NEWSLETTERS
July 22, 2011 ED Review
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 July 22, 2011
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Jobs and the Economy
Title I Allocations
Testing and Teaching
NAEP 2010: Geography
Safe and Healthy Students
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Jobs and the Economy

This week, in successive events, the Administration underscored the role that education plays in preparing American workers for jobs and boosting the economy. First, on July 18, President Obama and Secretary Duncan hosted an education roundtable with business leaders and partners to discuss expanding effective industry-led partnerships that are working to transform the American education system. "A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can outcompete countries around the world," the President stated. "America's business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game. That's why we're working together to put an outstanding education within reach for every child." The private sector is responding to the President's challenge with more than financial support. Corporations have made commitments that take advantage of their areas of expertise and the skills of their employees. Then, on July 19, Secretary Duncan was interviewed during The Atlantic's "The New Work Era" Summit. The summit, convening leading CEOs, journalists, and policymakers, was pegged to a report from McKinsey & Company that analyzes the skills crisis facing the U.S. job market. Asked if he agreed the nation focuses too much on college-readiness and not enough on career-readiness, the Secretary identified the issue one of the many "false dichotomies" that permeate education reform debates. "It's not either-or. It's and," he stressed. "The skills necessary to be successful in college and careers are almost identical today." Also, earlier, the Secretary met students participating in the Imagine Cup 2011 competition, sponsored by Microsoft, at the Lincoln Center in New York City. This year's theme was "Imagine a World Where Technology Helps Solve the Toughest Problems." Projects showcased—from software and video games to mobile apps and videos—were aimed at improving education, health care, and the environment.

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Title I Allocations

To aid in some key calculations, the Department has published Fiscal Year 2011 Title I allocations by school district. Under No Child Left Behind, districts must spend up to 20% of their Title I, Part A allocation to cover school choice-related transportation costs and pay for supplemental educational services. Districts have some discretion to determine the allocation of funds between transportation and supplemental services, but all districts must spend at least a quarter (5%) of the 20% "reservation" on each activity if there is demand for both. Further, for supplemental services, districts are required to pay the lesser of the actual cost or an amount equal to the district's Title I, Part A allocation divided by poor students in the district, as determined by estimates produced by the Census Bureau.

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Testing and Teaching

In the wake of new cheating allegations in districts, the Washington Post convened a roundtable on how best to approach teacher incentives in the education system, featuring opinion pieces by Secretary Duncan, Duke University behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely, Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Howard Gardner, and Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein. Below are some excerpts from the Secretary's submission:

"Recent news reports of widespread or suspected cheating on standardized tests in several school districts around the country have been taken by some as evidence that we must reduce reliance on testing to measure student growth and achievement. Others have gone even farther, claiming that cheating is an inevitable consequence of 'high-stakes testing' and that we should abandon testing altogether. To be sure, there are lessons to be learned from these jarring incidents, but the existence of cheating says nothing about the merits of testing. Instead, cheating reflects a willingness to lie at children's expense to avoid accountability—an approach I reject entirely."

"Each of the instances [of cheating] is rooted in the pernicious notion that by resisting accountability, you can avoid it. To deny the importance of regular, comprehensive measurement of student growth and academic progress because of cheating is to embrace that twisted ethos, sending exactly the wrong message to students. Competing in a global economy is the ultimate high-stakes test for American students, and there are no shortcuts. Closing our eyes to the knowledge requirements of the 21st century economy will not make them go away."

"At the same time, it is important to remember that measuring student growth is a means to an end, and not an end in itself. Poorly designed tests do not advance the goal of providing every American child a high-quality, well-rounded education. They also don't tell you very much about the effectiveness of teachers. That's why the Department of Education has put $350 million toward developing a new generation of assessments and why we support teacher evaluations based on multiple measures—including principal observations, peer review, classroom work, student and parent feedback, and other locally developed measures."

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NAEP 2010: Geography

According to the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), less than a third of the nation's students achieve at or above the Proficient level in geography. Although fourth-graders made gains in achievement since 2001, the Nation's Report Card: Geography 2010 shows that achievement by eighth-graders remained flat, and performance by twelfth-graders declined from 1994. There were a few bright spots: scores among lowest performers (bottom 10th percentile) were higher than in 1994 for all grades, and African-American and Hispanic students' scores increased in grades 4 and 8 and some achievement gaps narrowed. Yet, on the heels of NAEP report cards for civics and U.S. history, this report card for geography adds to a picture of stagnating and declining overall achievement among U.S. students in the social sciences.

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Safe and Healthy Students

On July 8, the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics released "America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011." This report continues a robust series of annual studies to the country on conditions affecting children and families in the U.S. across a range of basic domains: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health, with a special feature on adoption. The Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), contributes indicators to the report and supports its production with 21 other federal agencies.

Speaking of wellness, Secretary Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius recently announced $95 million in grants to 278 school-based health center programs. Provided under the Affordable Care Act, the grants will help clinics expand and provide more health care services at schools nationwide. Recipients are currently serving approximately 790,000 patients. The awards will enable them to increase their capacity by over 50%, serving an additional 440,000 patients. School-based clinics improve the overall health and wellness of all children through health screenings, health promotion, and disease prevention activities and enable children with acute or chronic illnesses to attend school.

Yesterday (July 21), Secretary Duncan joined Attorney General Eric Holder to announce the launch of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, a collaborative project between the two agencies that will address the "school-to-prison pipeline" and the disciplinary policies and practices that can push students out of school and into the justice system. The initiative aims to support good discipline practices to foster safe and productive learning environments in all classrooms. To implement the initiative, the agencies will coordinate with other organizations in the non-profit and philanthropic communities who are working to help ensure students succeed by dealing with inappropriate school discipline.

Also, the Administration has released the 2011 National Drug Control Strategy. The 2011 strategy is a recommitment to the two main goals established in the inaugural strategy: curtailing drug consumption and improving public health and safety by reducing the consequences of drug use. It also focuses efforts on three "signature initiatives"—reducing prescription drug abuse, reducing drugged driving, and expanding community-based substance abuse prevention—as well as on populations with unique challenges and significant needs in addressing substance abuse issues—active duty military and veterans, women and their families, college and university students, and those within the criminal justice system.

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Odds and Ends

  • On July 11, the Administration launched "Strong Cities, Strong Communities " (SC2), a new and customized pilot initiative to strengthen local capacity and spark economic growth within communities while ensuring taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently. To accomplish this, federal agencies will supply experienced staff to work directly with six cities: Chester (Pennsylvania), Cleveland, Detroit, Fresno (California), Memphis, and New Orleans. These teams will go to work with local governments, the private sector, and other institutions to leverage federal funding and support the local work being done to encourage economic growth and community development.

  • Three more states (Indiana, North Dakota, and Wyoming) and the District of Columbia have been approved to receive fiscal 2010 funding to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving schools under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program.

  • The Department received a notice of intent to apply from 36 states and the District of Columbia for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge and from 1,326 districts and non-profit organizations for the 2011 Investing in Innovation grant competition. For both programs, a notice of intent to apply was optional. Entities may still submit applications if they have not notified the Department, and entities that submitted a notice may choose not to submit an application.

  • The Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) is actively seeking individuals to serve as peer reviewers for the 2011 Promise Neighborhoods grant competitions. All reviewers will need to dedicate roughly 50 hours of time for reading, scoring, and developing comments and discussing applications, over a three-week period in late September or early October, and will receive an honorarium for their time and effort. The deadline for application forms is August 8.

  • "Data on College Graduates in the First Year After College," a new report from NCES, describes the enrollment and employment experiences of a national sample of college graduates a year after their 2007-08 graduation.

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Quote to Note

"Throughout her long and active life, Elizabeth Anne Ford distinguished herself through her courage and compassion. As our nation's First Lady, she was a powerful advocate for women's health and women's rights. After leaving the White House, Mrs. Ford helped reduce the social stigma surrounding addiction and inspired thousands to seek much-needed treatment. While her death is a cause for sadness, we know that organizations such as the Betty Ford Center will honor her legacy by giving countless Americans a new lease on life."

        President Barack Obama (7/8/11), in a statement on the passing of Betty Ford

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Upcoming Events

Every other Thursday through August 25, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the Department is hosting "Summer Seminars at Six," a four-part summer information series for teachers. The next seminar, titled "Who's on First? State and Federal Roles and Responsibilities for Education," will be on July 28. A video and the presentation that accompanied the initial, July 14 seminar, titled "An ED 101 Primer," are available online.

On July 28, the Department's Equity and Excellence Commission will hold a meeting in Washington, D.C. The agenda for the Commission's third meeting will include discussion of proposed recommendations and the best structure for a report. Due to time constraints, there will not be a public comment period, but individuals wishing to provide comments may contact the Commission at equitycommission@ed.gov.

On August 10, also in Washington, D.C., the Department will host the third in a series of public meetings related to the Race to the Top Assessment (RTTA) grants. The meeting will convene representatives from both RTTA consortia and a panel of experts to discuss addressing the needs of English learners and students with disabilities as they work to develop next-generation assessment systems. The consortia are fully committed to ensuring the assessments are valid, reliable, and fair for all students.

Through September 15, the National Endowment for the Humanities invites applications for grants of up to $25,000 to support the development of an undergraduate course on an "enduring question." This course will encourage undergraduates and educators to grapple with a fundamental question addressed by the humanities and to join together in a sustained program of reading in order to encounter influential thinkers over the centuries and into the present day. Up to four faculty members in any discipline may develop the course, but each co-director must teach it separately.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will exhibit at the National Council of La Raza's Conference in Washington, D.C. (July 23-26), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Convention in Los Angeles (July 23-28), and the National Urban League's Conference in Boston (July 27-30). If you are attending any of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Director, Intergovernmental Affairs—Stacey Jordan, (202) 401-0026, Stacey.Jordan@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 07/26/2011