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November 26, 2010 ED Review
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 November 26, 2010
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Doing More with Less
Grade 12 NAEP
Blue Ribbon Schools
Financial Education and Savings Programs
Teacher Preparation Programs
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Doing More with Less

At a recent American Enterprise Institute forum, Secretary Duncan opened with a bold statement. "I am here to talk today about what has been called the New Normal," he said. "For the next several years, preschool, K-12, and postsecondary educators are likely to face the great challenge of doing more with less. My message is this challenge can, and should be, embraced as an opportunity to make dramatic improvements. I believe enormous opportunities for improving the productivity of our education system lie ahead if we are smart, innovative, and courageous in rethinking the status quo. It's time to stop treating the problem of educational productivity as a grinding, eat-your-broccoli exercise. It's time to start treating it as an opportunity for innovation and accelerating progress."

"There are productive and unproductive ways to meet this challenge of doing more with less," he noted. Cuts that damage school quality and hurt children are the "wrong way," like reducing the number of days in the school year, slashing instructional time spent on task, eliminating the arts and foreign languages, abandoning promising reforms, and laying off talented young teachers." He also identified as "necessary but nowhere near sufficient" various district-level cost efficiencies, such as deferring construction and maintenance projects, cutting bus routes, lowering the costs of textbooks and health services, improving energy use and efficiency in school buildings, and reducing central office personnel. "By far," he explained, "the best strategy for boosting productivity is to leverage transformational change in the system to improve outcomes for children. To do so requires a fundamental rethinking of the structure and delivery of education in the United States."

"Broadly speaking, there are two large buckets of opportunity for doing more with less," he continued. "The first is reducing waste throughout the system.... The second... is doing more of what works, and less of what doesn't. That is a simple sounding idea. Yet, as experience shows, that simple mantra is often not followed." Among the transformational productivity reforms that can also boost student outcomes, he advises rethinking policies around seat time requirements, class size, compensating teachers based on their educational credentials, the use of technology within the classroom, inequitable school financing, and the over-placement of students in special education.

"I want to be clear. I am not recommending a specific course of action today to any state or district," the Secretary concluded. And, he added, the federal government has a role, "to cut red tape that diverts dollars from improving student outcomes and to focus our resources on those areas with the greatest potential impact." Then again, "It is important to remember that boosting productivity can cost money. In some cases, government may have to spend more now, to get better returns on our current investment. Race to the Top and i3 are good examples of programs that are important to continue in FY 2011 and beyond."

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Grade 12 NAEP

According to new results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the performance of twelfth-grade students nationwide in reading and mathematics has improved since 2005. However, the average score for reading was lower compared to 1992, and significant achievement gaps among major racial/ethnic groups remain in both subjects. Moreover, for the first time, the results show the performance of twelfth-graders in 11 states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Dakota, and West Virginia) that agreed to participate.

The average reading score for twelfth-graders overall was two points higher than in 2005 but four points lower than in 1992. Also, 38% of students performed at or above proficient in reading in 2009, a jump of three percentage points from 2005 but not significantly different from assessment years prior to 2005. The reading results are compared to results from the five previous assessments conducted since 1992.

And the average math score for twelfth-graders overall was three points higher than in 2005. About one-quarter of students performed at or above proficient in math in 2009. The math results are compared only to 2005, when a new framework was adopted, starting a new trend line.

"Today's report suggests that high school seniors' achievement in reading and math isn't rising fast enough to prepare them to succeed in college and careers," responded Secretary Duncan in a statement. "President Obama has set a goal that the United States once again will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the end of the decade. In a survey that accompanied the NAEP test, 86% of seniors said they expect to graduate college. They'll only succeed if we challenge and support them to raise their academic performance and offer them the financial support they need to pay for college."

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Blue Ribbon Schools

Last week, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Secretary Duncan and White House Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes honored 314 schools as 2010 National Blue Ribbon Schools. "We have a responsibility to ensure that every child in this country receives a world class education," the Secretary said. "Today's Blue Ribbon Schools award winners have proven their commitment to our kids. Their work reflects the conviction that every student can learn and succeed in the classroom."

The pair also recognized 10 Blue Ribbon School principals as Terrel H. Bell Award recipients:

  • Darlene Brister (Ryan Elementary School, Baton Rouge, LA)
  • Naomi Drouillard, Rosa Parks School/Public School 254, Queens, NY)
  • Thomas Evans (Eastern Technical High School, Baltimore, MD)
  • Sammy Jackson (Elgin Middle School, Elgin, OK)
  • Sandi Jones (West Side Elementary School, Jacksonville, TX)
  • Michael Lucas (Cornell Elementary School, Coraopolis, PA)
  • Laverne Nimmons (Granville T. Woods School/Public School 335, Brooklyn, NY)
  • James Verrilli (North Star Academy Charter School of Newark, NJ)
  • Lisa Williams (Anna F. Booth Elementary School, Irvington, AL)
  • Cole Young (Humboldt Elementary School, Dewey-Humboldt, AZ)

The awards, named after a former Secretary of Education and presented by the Department in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Middle School Association, honor truly exceptional leaders who overcome challenging circumstances and maintain a commitment of excellent education for every student.

Also, as part of the Blue Ribbon event, the Department's Teacher Ambassador Fellows facilitated five roundtable forums with teachers and principals, helping them to collaborate on issues such as parent/community engagement and developing and evaluating educators.

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Financial Education and Savings Programs

On November 15, Secretary Duncan, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair, and National Credit Union Administration Chairman Debbie Matz signed a new agreement that aims to help millions of students get on the path to financial success. The agencies will work together to facilitate partnerships among schools, financial institutions, federal grantees, and other stakeholders to provide effective financial education; increase access to safe, affordable, and appropriate accounts at federally insured banks and credit unions; and encourage savings. Duncan, Bair, and Matz spoke with high school students at the student-run credit union branch at T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, before announcing the agreement to an audience that included bank and credit union executives, asset-building experts, state policymakers, educators, and parents.

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Teacher Preparation Programs

On November 16, in remarks to the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education's (NCATE) Blue Ribbon Panel, Secretary Duncan called on colleges and universities to hold teacher preparation programs more accountable for the impact of their graduates on student learning. Specifically, he called on those responsible for licensing teachers to make accreditation much more rigorous, "outcome-based and propelled by clinic practice." To illustrate, the Secretary cited a survey of over 700 education school professors released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which found that only 7% of teacher educators believe that an NCATE accreditation means a program is "top-notch." Nearly 90% said that accreditation assured only that a program was in procedural compliance or met a minimum baseline of acceptable quality. The Secretary made his remarks at the release of NCATE's Blue Ribbon Panel report on teacher education, which calls for schools of education to raise their standards for applicants and provide teachers-in-training with relevant classroom experience.

Note: In a new video, Secretary Duncan describes the Department's efforts to support teachers, strengthen the teaching profession, and improve parent involvement.

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Odds and Ends

  • At an event at River Terrace Elementary School, the first school in the District of Columbia to achieve Gold award status in the HealthierUS School Challenge, Secretary Duncan and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urged passage of legislation to improve school meals.

  • Secretary Duncan joined National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel, Governor Martin O'Malley, Superintendent Jerry Weast, and other guests at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, to celebrate American Education Week.

  • The Department recently celebrated the 35th anniversary of the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). On November 18, Secretary Duncan was on Capitol Hill to offer remarks. Also, the Department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has released a publication on IDEA's progress over time.

  • "Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2010," a new report issued jointly by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, examines crimes occurring in school, as well as on the way to and from school, and presents data on crime and safety at school from the unique perspectives of students, teachers, and principals.

  • "Open Doors 2010," published annually by the Institute of International Education, reports on Americans studying abroad and international students in the U.S.

  • The Department and five other federal agencies have joined the Appalachian Regional Commission in formalizing the Appalachian Regional Development Initiative, an unprecedented partnership to energize economic development in Appalachia.

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Quote to Note

"We have so many young people, many of whom were my students when I ran the Chicago schools, who have done everything right. They've gone to school every single day. They've gotten good grades. They've worked hard. They've played by all the rules. And then the chance of going to college was denied them. That is absolutely unfair to those children. It's absolutely unfair to our country and to our economy, by denying hard-working young people the opportunity to pursue higher education and ultimately be productive members of our society and contributors. So I think there is a real moment of opportunity here."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (11/18/10), on a press call regarding consideration by Congress of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act

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Upcoming Events

eCYBERMISSION, a web-based science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competition sponsored by the U.S. Army, poses multiple Mission Challenges in nine different areas: alternative sources of energy; ecosystems; environment; food, health, and fitness; nanotechnology; national security and safety; robots and robotics; speed, velocity, acceleration, vectors, and scalars; and sports and recreation. Teams of three to four sixth-, seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade students identify and solve a real life problem, with prizes for participating and winning. Registration is open until December 17, 2010, with submissions due February 25, 2011.

Next week, the Department will exhibit at the American Association of Educational Service Agencies' Annual Conference in Savannah, GA (December 1-4) and the Association for Career and Technical Education's Annual Convention in Las Vegas (December 2-4). If you are attending either of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 12/02/2010