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April 1, 2011 ED Review
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 April 1, 2011
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Call to Action
In Southern California
Univision Town Hall
Keeping Students Safe
TEACH Campaign
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Call to Action

On March 22, at the "Building a Grad" National Summit, Vice President Joe Biden issued a call to action to boost college graduation rates across the country and help the nation meet President Obama's goal for the U.S. to have the best-educated workforce and the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. Specifically, the Vice President, who has made college accessibility and affordability a key priority in his role as chairman of the Middle Class Task Force, called on governors to host state college completion summits, released a college completion toolkit, and announced a new grant competition focused on helping institutions of higher education (IHEs) increase completion rates.

"Today, we've got an education system that works like a funnel—when we need it to work like a pipeline," stressed the Vice President. "We have to make the same commitment to getting students across the graduation stage that we did to getting them into the registrar's office. The skills of our college graduates will pave the way to a bright economic future for our nation."

To meet the President's 2020 goal, the U.S. will have to increase the number of college graduates by 50%, turning out at least eight million additional graduates by the end of the decade.

"America once led the world in the number of college graduates it produces, and now we've fallen to ninth," added Secretary Duncan, who delivered opening remarks at the summit. The best jobs and fastest-growing firms, whether in biosciences, technology, manufacturing, trade, or entertainment, will gravitate to countries, states, and communities with a highly qualified workforce. In order for the United States to lead the world, every governor will have to lead the way at home."

To help governors develop state college completion plans, the Administration released a calculation of each state's share of the President's 2020 goal, as well as a comprehensive college completion toolkit of suggested policies to boost college graduation rates. The toolkit identifies seven no-cost or low-cost strategies, 15 related action steps, and a series of existing federal resource streams from which to draw. Strategies include aligning high school exit and college placement standards, linking state funding to college success in boosting completion rates, making it easier for students to transfer among colleges, and re-engaging adults with some college experience but no degree.

The Administration is also making a number of financial resources available to help the governors execute their plans to boost completion rates. For example, the Department is currently accepting applications for the 2011 Comprehensive Grant Program, which is part of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). This program will provide a total of $20 million to IHEs to implement plans that can increase success and improve productivity and that have the potential to serve as models for the nation. In its Fiscal Year 2012 budget, the Administration also proposed the First in the World initiative, which would award competitive funds to support programs that embrace innovative practices to accelerate learning, boost completion rates, and hold down tuition, and the College Completion Incentive Grants Program, which would reward states and IHEs for undertaking reforms that produce more college graduates.

Also: An update released at the summit reveals the number of "dropout factory" high schools, where 40% or more of students fail to graduate on time, continues to fall. Nationwide, the number of such schools fell by 112 schools (6.4%) from 2008 to 2009 and by 373 schools (nearly 20%) from 2002 to 2009. While these schools represent only a fraction of all public high schools, they account for more than half of all dropouts each year. Interestingly, whereas the improvements witnessed through 2008 were primarily driven by gains in the South and within suburbs and towns, improvements between 2008 and 2009 were also driven by gains in the Midwest and West and within urban and rural areas. The update also offers three profiles of success: Hillsborough County (Florida), Baltimore, and Canton and Cincinnati (Ohio). (Note: Researchers analyzed data from the Department's Common Core of Data, using the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate [AFGR] and promoting power to determine students' progress.)

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In Southern California

Soon after the summit, Secretary Duncan traveled to southern California to echo President Obama's call to Congress to move quickly and fix what is broken in No Child Left Behind and talk with students, parents, educators, and business and community leaders about reforming education. In Los Angeles, he spoke at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles Education Summit, held a roundtable discussion at Tincher Preparatory School (Long Beach), and engaged in a community forum at Fremont High School. Then, in San Diego, he held a roundtable discussion at Shoal Creek Elementary School and showcased education as a national security issue at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

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Univision Town Hall

This week, the President participated in a town hall event on education at Bell Multicultural High School (student profile: 66% Hispanic, 37% English Learners, and 90% low-income) in Washington, D.C. Hosted by Univision, this forum afforded the President the opportunity to discuss the importance of education in the rapidly growing Latino community and the country as a whole. The future of America is inextricably linked to the future of the Latino community. More than 54 million strong, Hispanics are the largest and the fastest-growing minority group, and they represent 22% of all public school students. Yet, Hispanics have the lowest educational attainment levels of any group in the U.S.: less than half of Latino children are enrolled in any early education program; only about half of all Latino children earn their high school diploma on time, and those who do finish high school are only half as likely as their peers to be prepared for college; and only 13% of Latinos hold a bachelor's degree, while only 4% have completed graduate or professional degree programs. (Note: The transcript and a fact sheet are posted online.)

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Keeping Students Safe

The Department's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) announced the launch of the Safe and Supportive Schools web site, representing another step to provide the expertise and technical assistance needed to keep students safe. From here, states, school districts, and communities can find the resources and support to develop rigorous measurement systems that assess school climate and implement and evaluate programmatic interventions. In particular, one can: find out how to get help from the Safe and Supportive Schools TA Center; register for events that feature experts from the field; locate high-quality products, tools, and research by role and topic; learn about what other states are doing to measure and improve school climate; and read the latest news on school climate issues.

In related news:

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TEACH Campaign

The Department recently released a public service announcement (PSA) by President Obama illustrating his support of the TEACH campaign. The President and Secretary Duncan launched TEACH last year, as a national initiative aimed at recruiting the next generation of teachers. TEACH is dedicated to inspiring America's best and brightest to consider becoming teachers and to celebrate America's teachers.

The President's PSA contributes to a catalogue of senior officials who have recorded PSAs in support of TEACH, including Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes, and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. Educational advocates and celebrities, like Bill Gates, John Legend, and Oprah Winfrey, have also vocalized their support for the campaign.

TEACH.gov is the platform for this initiative and hosts useful information about the teaching profession, teaching positions open across the country, and testimonials from teachers, leaders, and others celebrating teaching.

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Odds and Ends

  • Ten more states have been approved under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program to receive fiscal 2010 funding to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving schools. Five states were approved on March 17, and five states were approved on March 25. Also, the March issue of the Department's School Turnaround Newsletter is available online.

  • In a White House blog entry, Domestic Policy Advisor Barnes shared some of the submissions she received on the education system through the "Advise the Advisor" program.

  • Some 400 youth from over 30 states gathered on February 26 for the National Youth Summit. During one session, each attendee had the chance to indicate (with a keypad) their opinions on a range of issues. Five observations topped the list.

  • The Department has issued a Notice Inviting Applications for the Fiscal Year 2011 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) grant competition.

  • An interactive map provides a comprehensive picture of where broadband is available in schools and IHEs across the country.

  • The Department's Office for Civil Rights and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has entered into a settlement agreement with the Arizona Department of Education to ensure a substantial number of Arizona's English Language Learner students receive the educational services that they need.

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Quote to Note

"In an era of texts, tweets, and chat rooms and the instant democracy of the web, civics education may seem antiquated. However, recent events have debunked the idea that civics education doesn't matter. From the peaceful uprising in Egypt to the tragic shootings in Tucson, Americans have been reminded again that freedom matters—and that democracy is its embodiment. I would suggest to you that while civics education and engagement is vital in its own right, the skills acquired by civic participation are in fact critical to succeeding in the knowledge economy of the 21st century."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (3/29/11), in remarks at the iCivics' "Educating for Democracy in a Digital Age" conference

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Upcoming Events

The last regional meeting in the Office of English Language Acquisition's series engaging stakeholders on what makes for quality education for English Learners is April 11 and 12, in New York City (main) and Charlotte (satellite). There is no registration fee. Participants may draw from state and local Title I and/or Title III funds (if available) to pay for their travel and lodging.

Also, the last regional summit in the Office of Vocational and Adult Education's series on the role that community colleges play in efforts to increase the number of college graduates and prepare graduates to lead today's workforce is April 15, in San Diego. The focus will be "Serving Military Families and Veterans." Also, a virtual community college symposium is planned for the week of April 25.

On April 15, in Washington, D.C., the Department will host the first in a series of public meetings related to the Race to the Top Assessment grants. This first meeting will bring together representatives from the two assessment consortia and a panel of experts to discuss the technology infrastructure needed to support the new assessment systems being developed by the grantees. Upcoming meetings will look at the use of artificial scoring of assessments; the selection of a uniform growth model that is consistent with test purpose, structure, and intended uses; innovation in item types; and the inclusion of English Language Learner students and students with disabilities.

In April and May, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and its Comprehensive Centers will host four regional capacity-building conferences on successfully implementing SIG.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will be exhibiting at the National Head Start Association's Conference in Kansas City, MO (April 4-8), the National Association of Elementary School Principals' Convention in Tampa (April 7-10), the National School Board Association's Conference in San Francisco (April 9-11), and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' Meeting in Indianapolis (April 13-16). If you are attending any of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

Please feel free to contact the Office of Communications and Outreach with any questions:
Director, Intergovernmental Affairs—Stacey Jordan, (202) 401-0026, Stacey.Jordan@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 04/05/2011