NEWSLETTERS
August 5, 2011 ED Review
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 August 5, 2011
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Transforming the Teaching Profession
Wake-Up Call
Uniform Graduation Rate
Focus on Rural Education
Teaching About 9/11
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Transforming the Teaching Profession

On July 29, in a speech to the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, Secretary Duncan said the U.S. should radically transform the way that teachers are recruited, assigned, evaluated, and compensated, in order to recognize and reward its great veteran teachers, attract top students into the field, and make the country more competitive. He called on teachers to rebuild their profession, to give themselves more autonomy in exchange for performance-based accountability. "Teachers must own this and drive this," he explained. "Change can only come from the men and women who do the hard work every day within our classrooms." He also called for higher salaries to make teaching more competitive with other venerated professions like law, medicine, and engineering. He suggested that starting salaries of around $60,000 and top salaries approaching $150,000 would help change the economics of the profession, while acknowledging the difficulty of finding more funding when governments at every level are wrestling with debt and deficits. "I am sure some people will immediately say that we can't afford it without even looking at how to redirect the money we are already spending—and mis-spending," he observed. "To them I say that there is more than one way to mortgage your future. We can't mortgage our future by under-investing in education."

On July 30, the Secretary announced the 16 teachers selected as 2011-12 Teaching Ambassador Fellows. Five teachers will become full-time employees at the Department in Washington, D.C., and 11 will remain in their classrooms and participate on a part-time basis. "I'm committed to listening to teachers' voices as we work to develop policies that will support reform and strengthen the teaching profession," he noted. "I've come to rely on the Fellows for their invaluable feedback and their ability to facilitate dialogue with teachers across the country. I look forward to working closely with this year's Fellows—particularly as we work to fix the No Child Left Behind Act." Now in its fourth year, the Teacher Ambassador Fellowships were created to give outstanding teachers an opportunity to learn about national policy issues in education and contribute their expertise to those discussions. Fellows, in turn, share what they have learned with other teachers in their professional networks, contributing to a greater understanding of federal initiatives and encouraging broader input into policy and programs designed to improve education at all levels of government. The 2011-12 Fellows will continue to work with the 54 previous Fellows from the past three classes.

Also:

  • Every other Thursday through August 25, from 6:00 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 "Fixing What's Broken in No Child Left Behind," will be on August 11. Archived videos and related materials from both the July 14 and July 28 seminars are available online.
  • On ED.gov, 2010-11 Fellow Laurie Calvert blogs about her experience at the "Save Our Schools" rally, 2011-12 Fellow Greg Mullenholz blogs about his first week at the Department, and Ben Firke blogs about teacher-turned-Senior Program Advisor on Teacher Initiatives Brad Jupp.
  • Throughout the summer, TEACH.gov has been profiling teachers of all subjects and grade levels who have inspired their students and increased their classroom's performance—in the hope that these stories will help the best and the brightest discover their pathway to teaching.
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Wake-Up Call

Last week, Secretary Duncan traveled to Des Moines for two education events, highlighting the need to promote educational excellence for students in Iowa and across America. First, with U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, he visited Carver Community School and participated in a lesson with local teachers and children. He also joined a roundtable discussion with community leaders from across the state to hear about how quality early learning programs have benefited urban and rural communities. (Note: Iowa intends to apply for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Fund, a new, $500 million state-level grant competition that will encourage states to develop bold and comprehensive plans for raising the quality of early learning initiatives.) Then, the Secretary delivered the keynote address at Governor Terry Branstad's Iowa Education Summit. He discussed the need to elevate education to empower citizens to compete in the global economy. He also provided an assessment of Iowa's progress in strengthening its education system. The summit was aimed at building a consensus on how to ensure all students receive a world-class education.

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Uniform Graduation Rate

This summer, states will begin reporting high school graduation rates for the 2010-11 school year using a more rigorous four-year adjusted cohort, as developed by the nation's governors in 2005. Since data reporting requirements were first implemented under No Child Left Behind, states have calculated graduation rates using varying methods, creating inconsistent data from one state to the next. The transition to a uniform high graduation rate requires all states to report the number of students who graduate in four years with a standard high school diploma, divided by the number of students who entered high school four years earlier, and accounting for student transfers in and out of school. States may also opt to use an extended-year adjusted cohort, allowing states, districts, and schools to account for students who complete high school in more than four years. In addition, schools must maintain documentation for students who have transferred. States will continue to report graduation rates at the state, district, and school levels, including rates for subgroups of students. The Department anticipates that the more rigorous method will result in lower reported graduation rates, but it will reflect a more accurate calculation of how many U.S. students complete high school.

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Focus on Rural Education

Throughout the month of August, the Department will hold events and engage in outreach efforts to promote the strengths, challenges, and key opportunities in rural education. Ongoing efforts will include spotlighting the work of educators and students in rural areas on the Rural Education Resource Center. Also, senior Department officials will participate in White House Rural Council roundtable discussions in several states and hold meetings at the Department's headquarters to continue learning from rural students, teachers, and researchers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), over half of public school districts (56%), nearly one-third of public schools (31%), and almost a quarter of students (23%, or 11.3 million) reside in rural communities. Class sizes are generally small, and overall graduation rates are high in many rural areas. Yet, rural students are less likely than their peers nationwide to access postsecondary education.

Earlier, in Tennessee, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach John White hosted a White House Rural Council roundtable discussion in Greeneville (July 18) and offered remarks at the Southeast Regional Rural Education Summit in Nashville (July 19).

Also:

  • During a recent webinar, state education officials learned more about how the National 4-H and Cooperative Extension programs can help with the effort to turnaround low-performing schools and end the dropout crisis.
  • On ED.gov, Amy French, a career counselor in Sullivan County, Tennessee, blogs about her work in rural Appalachia.
  • The White House "Champions of Change: Rural America" web site profiles rural leaders, from farmers and ranchers to educators and small business owners, who are helping the country confront the challenges of the 21st century.
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Teaching About 9/11

In just over a month, America will observe the 10th anniversary of September 11. However, many of today's elementary and secondary school students are too young to remember the day and its meaning. To help educators prepare for the difficult but important task of teaching about 9/11, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, the Pentagon Memorial Fund, and the Flight 93 National Memorial offered a free online conference to provide educators with resources and strategies for addressing the attacks. Discussions with content experts and workshop sessions—recorded and archived online—identify resources available at each organization, supply background information on 9/11, and encourage conversations on how to document, preserve, and interpret recent history and current events.

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Odds and Ends

  • On July 27, Secretary Duncan testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on the President's Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal.

  • On July 28, special guest Dora the Explorer joined the Secretary and Senior Advisor on Early Learning Jacqueline Jones for the last "Let's Read! Let's Move!" event of the summer at the Department's headquarters building.

  • More than 650 organizations intend to apply for 2011 Promise Neighborhood grants.

  • The summer 2011 issue of the Department's School Turnaround Newsletter is now available at. The newsletter is a resource for states, districts, and schools pursuing school turnaround under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. This issue details the National Education Association's (NEA) work with SIG schools, presents an example of a successful state monitoring system, and features an interview with a principal on implementing extended learning time.

  • The Department's Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) is working closely with students, families, the financial aid community, and others to develop model formats for financial aid offer forms. These forms, often referred to as Financial Aid Award Letters, are sent to prospective students by colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions to let them know how much financial aid they can expect to receive when they attend school. Interested parties are invited to offer comments on offer forms through Regulations.gov, as outlined in a July 29 Federal Register notice, by August 26.

  • NCES's "Graduate and First-Professional Students: Who They Are and How They Pay for Their Education, 2007-08" explores the types of programs in which these students are enrolled, the costs associated with those programs, and just how those costs are financed via aid and work.

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Quote to Note

"The current debate about the debt ceiling and the deficit is not just about budgets and numbers. It's really about the fundamental promise at the heart of the middle-class American Dream. For much of the last century, America was a country where, if you worked hard, you and your family could enjoy the basic benefits of a comfortable life: a job, a home, affordable health care, quality education, and a secure retirement. Today, for too many Americans, these building blocks of middle class life are increasingly out of reach—and that is creating uncertainty and anxiety. This is not good for the country. It's not good for our families. And it's not good for education. So, while I appreciate the hard work underway to cut spending and get our debt under control, I want all of us to work together to do this in a way that does not undermine the education of our children."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (7/28/11), in his testimony on the President's budget proposal

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Upcoming Events

The National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference will be held September 19 and 20 in Washington, D.C.

The NASA Explorer Schools 2011-12 school year is officially underway. If you work in an accredited K-12 education institution in the U.S. or a U.S. territory and would like to participate in NASA activities, please register online. You will then be contacted to set up an orientation.

On August 9, Department Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss will be on panel discussing collaborative school reform at the National Conference of State Legislatures' Legislative Summit in San Antonio (August 8-11). The Department will also exhibit at the summit. If you are attending this event, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Last Modified: 08/11/2011