Across the Pond
National Education Technology Plan
New Research Priorities
The Big Read
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Across the Pond
Last week, Secretary Duncan made his first official trip to Europe. First, he traveled to London, where he met with British Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove to discuss common challenges and goals for reforming education. As Secretary Duncan explained in a new entry on the Department's blog, "England is also struggling to turn around low-performing schools and is working to recruit and prepare the next generation of talented teachers and principals. Throughout our discussions, I found that the United States and England are taking similar approaches to addressing these challenges, and we have much to gain from sharing our experience." The Secretary also visited Mossbourne Community Academy, which once was known as one of the worst schools in Britain. In 2004, the school underwent a transformation to improve student learning through such efforts as extending the school day, instituting smaller "learning areas," and investing in educator professional development. This year, more than 90% of Mossbourne students taking the national examination received the highest rating.
Next, Secretary Duncan traveled to Paris, where he delivered remarks at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Forum, highlighting the Obama Administration's education reform agenda and underscoring the role of education in economic competitiveness and global prosperity. "I want to provide two overarching messages today about America's efforts to boost educational attainment and achievement," he said in his speech. "First, the Obama Administration has an ambitious and unified theory of action that propels our agenda. The challenge of transforming education in America cannot be met by quick-fix solutions or isolated reforms. It can only be accomplished with a clear, coherent, and coordinated vision of education reform. Second, while America must improve its stagnant educational and economic performance, President Obama and I reject the protectionist Cold War era assumption that improving economic competitiveness is somehow a zero-sum game.... I want to make the case to you today that enhancing educational attainment and economic viability, both at home and abroad, is really more of a win-win game. It is an opportunity to grow the economic pie, instead of carve it up." (Note: The Secretary recently made similar remarks before the Council of Foreign Relations and penned an essay in Foreign Affairs magazine on enhancing U.S. education and competitiveness.) In welcoming further international dialogue, the Secretary also mentioned some of his own future commitments, including joining the Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for the announcement of the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results in December and sponsoring an International Summit on the Teaching Profession in March.
Then, Secretary Duncan attended the OECD Ministerial on Education, where he participated in a plenary working lunch, attended breakout sessions with fellow education ministers and government officials from member countries and key emerging economies, and met with OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria and U.S. Ambassador to the OECD Karen Kornbluh.
A reminder: Next week is International Education Week, celebrating international education and exchange worldwide. During the week, Deputy Secretary Tony Miller will lead an agency delegation to Australia, to participate in the inaugural Australia-U.S. Education Roundtable. (Secretary Duncan will participate via video conference.) The small delegation will also travel to New Zealand to meet with education officials.
National Education Technology Plan
On November 9, Secretary Duncan released the Department's plan for transforming American education through technology, a process that would create an engaging, state-of-the-art, cradle-to-college school system nationwide. The National Education Technology Plan was written and refined over 18 months by leading education researchers, with input from the public, industry officials, and educators and students from across the country. Development of the national plan was led by the Department's Office of Educational Technology (OET) and involved the most rigorous and inclusive process ever undertaken for a plan. It is a crucial component of the Obama Administration's efforts to have America lead the world in college completion by 2020 and help close the academic achievement gap so that all students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers.
"Our nation's schools have yet to unleash technology's full potential to transform learning," the Secretary stressed in his remarks. "We're at an important transition point.... We need to leverage technology's promise to improve learning."
The plan, "Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology," presents a model with key goals in five areas: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity. Each section outlines concepts for using technology to holistically transform education, with the aim to achieve each goal by 2015. Overall, the plan addresses trends that could transform education, such as accessibility and mobility, the rise of digital content, and the rise of online social networks for information, collaboration, and learning. Also, it stresses that technology in the classroom only works when paired with effective teaching.
Meanwhile, through December 17, K-12 students, parents, teachers, administrators, and pre-service teachers from across the country have the opportunity to share their ideas and opinions on education and technology, through Project Tomorrow's annual Speak Up survey. This year's survey includes questions about emerging technologies: digital textbooks, online learning, and the use of smart phones within instruction. Students are also asked to design their own "mobile app" for learning. The results are shared with participating schools, so that they can use the data for planning and community discussions. Results are also used by government agencies and other organizations to inform their programs and policies.
This week, Secretary Duncan and Grammy Award-winning artist John Legend visited Howard University in Washington, D.C., to encourage students to choose teaching careers. This visit was part of the Department's TEACH campaign, a national teacher recruitment initiative launched earlier this year to recruit more diverse, high-quality teachers and celebrate the teaching profession. The Secretary and Legend hosted a town hall meeting with students and educators. Legend specifically discussed his involvement in education and his work with the TEACH and Show Me campaigns.
The TEACH campaign encourages more minorities, especially males, to pursue careers in the classroom. Nationwide, more than 35% of public school students are African-American or Hispanic, but less than 15% of teachers are African-American or Hispanic. Moreover, less than 2% of our nation's teachers are African-American males.
To learn more about the TEACH campaign and to view public service announcements (PSAs) by celebrities such as John Legend, visit TEACH.gov. The web site provides information and resources for students and prospective teachers, including a new interactive "pathway to teaching" tool designed to help individuals chart their course to becoming a teacher. More than 7,000 teacher job listings also are posted on the site.
New Research Priorities
On November 1, the National Board for Education Sciences unanimously approved new research priorities for the Department's Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Proposed by Director John Easton and submitted for public comment this summer, these new priorities are intended to make education studies more relevant to educators and help practitioners become more involved in developing and using research. IES's topics of study will remain much the same under the new priorities. Yet, these new priorities place greater emphasis on putting research findings into context, "to identify education policies, programs, and practices that improve education outcomes, and to determine how, why, for whom, and under what conditions they are effective." IES has also set as a priority identifying new and rigorous methods to measure outcomes in education research and building partnerships with educators and the community to develop greater "analytic capacity" at the local level. These priorities will be used to craft requests for proposals for new grant competitions in January.
The Big Read
The National Endowment for the Arts' (NEA) The Big Read provides U.S. communities with grants and numerous resources to read and discuss a single book or the work of a poet. Libraries, municipalities, and non-profit organizations are encouraged to apply for one of approximately 75 grants to be awarded for programming between September 2011 and June 2012. The application deadline is February 1, 2011. Aside from a grant, the following educational and promotional materials are provided and available online: reader's and teacher's guides and audio guides with commentary from artists, educators, and public figures; Spanish translations of selected reader's guides; and posters, banners, and bookmarks. For this cycle, communities will choose from 28 book titles (the recent additions include In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez and A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean) and three works of poets.
Odds and Ends
Secretary Duncan observed Veterans Day by visiting Manor View Elementary School at Fort Meade, Maryland, and celebrating the unveiling of the school's new library. As part of Target's School Library Makeover Program, the library received a complete transformation, featuring 2,000 new books; Smart Boards (interactive, electronic whiteboards); and new carpet, furniture, and lighting. Also, each student received seven new books to take home and begin his or her own at-home library.
A slideshow, transcript, and video from the Department's October 11 Education Stakeholders Forum, covering the Race to the Top Assessment Competition, the Promise Neighborhoods Program, and the TEACH Campaign, is available online.
A new Department video shows Tim Bailey, the 2009 Preserve America National History Teacher of the Year, in his classroom at Salt Lake City's Escalante Elementary School, where he taught U.S. history and civics until the current school year. Many of his students are first- and second-generation immigrants whose families come from countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Regardless of their backgrounds, he gets his students engaged and excited about the story of America.
Speaking of teachers, Secretary Duncan saluted the 662 most highly effective teachers in the District of Columbia Public Schools at "A Standing Ovation for Teachers."
The Department held a National Policy Forum for Family, School, and Community Engagement on November 9. Several senior officials from the Department and other education stakeholders delivered remarks or participated in panel discussions, focusing on the shared responsibility and best practices to support children's learning, from cradle-to-career, in the home, school, and community. The Administration is proposing to double funding for parent and family engagementfrom 1% to 2% of Title I funding, or a total of $270 million. At the same time, in order to drive innovation, it will allow states to use another 1% of Title I funding, roughly $145 million, for grant programs that support, incentivize, and help expand school district-level, evidence-based parental involvement practices.
The Education Trust has honored four public schools with 2010 "Dispelling the Myth" Awards: Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School in New Orleans; Jack Britt High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Griegos Elementary School in Albuquerque; and Morningside Elementary School in Brownsville, Texas.
Quote to Note
"[M]oving forward, the question is going to be can Democrats and Republicans sit down together and come up with a set of ideas that address core concerns. I'm confident that we can. I think that there are some areas where it's going to be very difficult for us to agree on, but I think there are going to be a whole bunch of areas where we can agree on.... I think everybody in this country thinks that we've got to make sure our kids are equipped in terms of their education, their math background and science background, to compete in this new global economy. And that's going to be an area where I think there's potential common ground."
|||President Barack Obama (11/3/10), during a press conference the day after the mid-term elections|
Results from the 2009 National Assessment for Educational Progress' (NAEP) twelfth-grade assessments in reading and math will be released on November 18, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
On November 19, the Department's Early Childhood and Reading Group will host a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program public input meeting at the Potomac Center Plaza (550 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024). The group is seeking input, including written input, from literacy experts, literacy organizations, states, other stakeholders, and the public, to inform the design and development of a notice inviting applications (NIA) that establishes the requirements for this competition. There will be two sessions: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Please note that technical assistance for grant applicants will be provided at a later date. This meeting is strictly for providing input concerning the development of a NIA.
Over the next two weeks, the Department will exhibit at the iNACOL (International Association for K-12 Online Learning) Virtual School Symposium in Glendale, AZ (November 14-16), the National Dropout Prevention Conference in Philadelphia (November 14-17), the National Alliance of Black School Educators' Conference in Fort Worth, TX (November 17-21), the National Council of Teachers of English's Convention in Orlando (November 18-21), and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages' Convention in Boston (November 19-21). If you are attending any of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.
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