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June 24, 2011 ED Review
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 June 24, 2011
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ESEA Reauthorization
Equal Access
NAEP 2010: U.S. History
Funding Opportunities
Labor-Management Collaboration
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

ESEA Reauthorization

On June 12, Secretary Duncan penned an op-ed explaining the urgency of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and, if necessary, addressing No Child Left Behind's (NCLB) problems through regulatory flexibility. He stressed regulatory flexibility will not replace comprehensive reform or give states and school districts a pass from accountability. Instead, the goal is to "unleash energy at the local level, even as Congress works to rewrite the law, giving states, districts, and schools the flexibility they need to raise standards, boost quality, and improve our lowest-performing schools."

A key excerpt:

"I remain hopeful and confident Congress will soon take action to strengthen and upgrade the nation's education law. But while Congress works, states and local districts are buckling under the law's goals and mandates. Despite our shared sentiment for reform and the Administration's long-standing proposal to reshape NCLB, the law remains in place, four years after it was due for reauthorization. Our children get only one shot at an education. They cannot wait any longer for reform.

"For this reason, our Administration will develop a plan that trades regulatory flexibility for reform. If Congress does not complete work on reauthorization soon, we will be prepared with a process that will enable schools to move ahead with reform in the fall. States, districts, and schools need the freedom to implement high standards, strengthen the quality of their teachers and school leaders, and embrace a more flexible, fair, and focused system of accountability. Many members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, have voiced support for these nonpartisan goals.

"The stakes are high. As it currently exists, NCLB is creating a slow-motion educational train wreck for children, parents, and teachers. Under the law, an overwhelming number of schools in the country may soon be labeled as 'failing,' eventually triggering impractical and ineffective sanctions."

The Administration released a Blueprint outlining proposed changes back in March 2010, and, last March, President Obama reissued a call for reform.

A day later, during a live broadcast of National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation," the Secretary asserted that doing nothing is not acceptable and that "where states are raising the bar, where they're doing the right thing by children, we need to provide them greater flexibility..."

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Equal Access

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students are the targets of a disproportionate share of bullying. According to a new survey, more than 90% of LGBT students in grades 6-12 reported being verbally harassed, and almost half reported being physically harassed during the 2008-09 school year. In a June 14 "Dear Colleague" letter, Secretary Duncan reminds public secondary schools of their obligation under the Equal Access Act to treat all student-initiated groups equally, regardless of the religious, political, philosophical, or other subject matters discussed at their meetings, including matters involving sexual orientation and gender identity. The Secretary notes that "gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and similar student-initiated groups addressing LGBT issues can play an important role in promoting safer schools and creating more welcoming learning environments." Nevertheless, "some such groups have been unlawfully excluded from school grounds, prevented from forming, or denied access to school resources." A set of legal guidelines issued by the Department affirms the Equal Access Act's principles by providing schools with the information and resources they need to help ensure that all students have a safe place to learn, meet, and share experiences.

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NAEP 2010: U.S. History

On the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in U.S. history, fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders showed some overall improvement since 1994. Also, in fourth-grade, there was a 22-point increase from 1994 to 2010 in the scores for students ranking in the bottom 10th percentile of performance, and African-American and Hispanic students made larger gains—22 and 23 points, respectively—from 1994 to 2010 than their white peers. On the other hand, the only progress since 2006 was in eighth-grade; the performance by fourth- and twelfth-graders remained unchanged compared to 2006. Moreover, although eighth-grade students earned the highest scores to date, just 17% of them scored at or above the Proficient level. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO. (Note: The Secretary's statement on the results is available online.)

The recently released NAEP High School Transcript Study provides context for twelfth-grade results. For 2010, the average NAEP U.S. history score for twelfth-graders who reported that they were either currently enrolled in or had taken an Advanced Placement (AP) course in U.S. history was 20 points higher than those students who reported not taking the class. This corresponds to a greater percentage of students taking the class.

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Funding Opportunities

The deadlines for several grant competitions are fast approaching:

  • Small, Rural School Achievement Program (closes 6/30). This program provides financial assistance to rural districts, to assist them in meeting their state's definition of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
  • Special Education—State Personnel Development Grants Program (closes 7/5). This program assists states in reforming and improving their systems for personnel preparation and professional development in early intervention, education, and transition services, to improve results for students with disabilities.
  • Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (closes 7/14). GEAR UP provides financial support for academic and related support services that low-income students, including students with disabilities, need to enable them to obtain a high school diploma and to prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education.

Also, be sure to review the Department's Fiscal Year 2011 Grants Forecast (as of June 21), which lists virtually all programs and competitions under which the agency has invited or expects to invite applications for awards and provides actual or estimated dates for the transmittal of applications under these programs. (Note: This document is advisory only and not an official application notice of the Department of Education.)

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Labor-Management Collaboration

A new report, titled "Local Labor-Management Relationships as a Vehicle to Advance Reform," highlights the work of the 12 districts from across the country that presented at the Department's Labor-Management Collaboration Conference held in Denver earlier this year. The report is a significant contribution to a relatively new field, studying how successful districts are advancing student achievement through labor-management collaboration. The report uses presentations made by district leaders, interviews, and document analyses to summarize what these noteworthy partnerships have accomplished and, more importantly, how they have accomplished it. Though approaches, techniques, and policies varied in order to meet each district's unique needs, common themes emerged throughout. Every district's story featured collaborative efforts in developing policies around evaluation, compensation, and career advancement, which were often spurred by critical challenges that urged leaders to seek out transformative change. In addition, all districts noted a shared interest in evaluating student learning and closing achievement gaps as the premise for their collaborative work.

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Odds and Ends

  • While the Department has not yet announced Green Ribbon Schools award criteria, it has provided some potential steps toward energy, cost, health, and environmentally sustainable learning spaces and education. This guidance is a resource for those excited about the initiative, even in its early stages, but does not guarantee schools taking these steps will be awarded a Green Ribbon. The agency has also compiled a list of resources for energy efficiency and sustainability, healthy school environments, and environmental sustainability education. It is updating this list regularly and will consider submissions to Green.Ribbon.Schools@ed.gov.

  • The Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), has issued two new reports: "Achievement Gaps: How Hispanic and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading on the NAEP," describing the achievement gaps between Hispanic and white public school students at the national and state levels and how the gaps have changed (press release), and "Students with Disabilities at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions," presenting nationwide estimates on student enrollment, services, and accommodations provided to students with disabilities at two- and four-year institutions of higher education for the 2008-09 academic year.

  • A new video produced by the Department spotlights Emporia State University in Kansas—home of the National Teacher Hall of Fame—and its strategy for instilling new teacher candidates with the knowledge, skills, resources, and fortitude to lead and succeed in the 21st century classroom.

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Quote to Note

"Under the umbrella of the Learning First Alliance, 16 national organizations representing tens of thousands of local administrators and school board members, as well as millions of teachers, are seeking flexibility from NCLB's deadlines and mandates. Separately, a number of state education chiefs have echoed the call for flexibility tied to education reform. Louisiana, for example, is seeking flexibility to put in place a comprehensive reform plan, as is Tennessee, a winner of the Administration's key reform program, Race to the Top. Nine other states are seeking flexibility from the law, while others have threatened to ignore the NCLB deadlines. Meanwhile, many states are moving forward with reform, voluntarily adopting higher standards and collaborating on a new generation of assessments. They are developing new systems of evaluating and supporting teachers, building comprehensive data systems to improve teaching and to track student gains, and transforming chronically low-performing schools..."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (6/12/11), in an op-ed published in Politico

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Upcoming Events

Through August 23, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) invites proposals that advance the role of the humanities at community colleges through curriculum and faculty development on the theme of "Bridging Cultures." NEH expects to award two or three cooperative agreements, of up to $360,000 each in outright funds. Proposed projects should provide support for faculty and administrators to develop new courses on Bridging Cultures topics; design new course sequences, concentrations, and core curricula; or conduct scholarly research that will improve faculty preparation and enrich teaching.

The National Civic League (NCL) invites communities to apply for America's oldest and most prestigious community recognition award. Each year, the All-America City Award is given to 10 communities that exemplify outstanding civic accomplishments. In 2012, NCL will focus the award on communities that have developed comprehensive, realistic, and sustainable plans to increase grade-level reading proficiency by the end of third-grade. Winning communities will develop strategies in three areas: school readiness, school attendance, and summer learning. A letter of intent is due by October 14, while applications are due by March 12, 2012.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will exhibit at the International Society for Technology in Education's Conference in Philadelphia (June 26-29), the League of United Latin American Citizens' Convention in Cincinnati (June 27-July 2), and the National Education Association's Meeting and Representative Assembly in Chicago (June 30-July 5). 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: 06/30/2011