Press Room NEWSLETTERS
August 19, 2011 ED Review
Archived Information


 August 19, 2011
     Share this page Share this page
  Past issues
  Credits, subscribe & unsubscribe
What's inside...
NCLB Flexibility Package
Twitter Town Hall
Mapping State Standards
ARRA Obligations
Grant Awards
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

NCLB Flexibility Package

On August 8, with the new school year fast approaching and still no bill to reform the No Child Left Behind Act, the President directed his Administration to provide a process for states to seek relief from key provisions of the education law. "America's future competitiveness is being decided today—in classrooms across the nation," stated Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House. "With no clear path to a bipartisan bill in Congress, the President has directed us to move forward with an administrative process to provide flexibility—within the law—for states and districts that are willing to embrace reform." She emphasized that such a process is "not a pass on accountability. There will be a high bar for states seeking flexibility. We'll encourage all states to apply, and each one will have a chance to succeed. But, those that don't will have to comply with No Child Left Behind's requirements until Congress enacts an education law that will deliver change to all 50 states."

The Administration's Blueprint for reauthorizing the law calls for college- and career-ready standards, more great teachers and leaders, robust use of data, and a more flexible and targeted accountability system. At a briefing, Barnes and Secretary Duncan noted that the final details on the flexibility package will reflect similar goals. The specifics of the package will be made public in September.

"There is no magic bullet for fixing education," stressed the Secretary, "and the best ideas will always come from the local level—from the men and women in our schools doing the hard work every day to educate children. We are still hopeful that Congress can continue its work in the fall. In the meantime, states and districts have an opportunity to move forward." (Note: The Secretary blogs about the President's directive, and answers to five questions about NCLB flexibility are available online.)

Top


Twitter Town Hall

On August 24, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Secretary Duncan will participate in the first-ever #AskArne Twitter Town Hall. Veteran education journalist John Merrow will moderate the event, which will also be broadcast live on the Department's USTREAM channel. Twitter users can submit questions to the Secretary using the hashtag #AskArne. The Department uses several Twitter accounts to share information and speak with the education community and the public. For general news and information, follow @usedgov. To keep up-to-date with the Secretary, follow @ArneDuncan. For more information, please go to. (Note: A complete list of the agency's Twitter accounts, as well as Facebook pages and YouTube channels, is posted online.)

Top


Mapping State Standards

The Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which is part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), has released a report comparing the relative rigor of state proficiency standards in reading and mathematics using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scale as a common yardstick. Each individual state develops its own state assessments in reading and math and sets its own proficiency standard. As a result, states vary widely in the standards they set for students. By using NAEP as a benchmark, it was possible to compare state proficiency standards. Among the findings:

  • Most states' proficiency standards were at or below NAEP's definition of "Basic" performance.
  • For those states that had made substantive changes in their assessments between 2007 and 2009, most (62%) moved toward more rigorous standards, as measured by NAEP.
  • For those states that had made substantive changes in their assessments between 2005 and 2009, more showed decreases (51%) than increases (32%) in the rigor of their standards, as measured by NAEP.
  • Between 2005 and 2007 and between 2007 and 2009, changes in the proportion of students meeting states' standards for proficiency were not corroborated by the proportion of students meeting proficiency, as measured by NAEP. In other words, the state assessment and NAEP reports showed changes in percentages of students meeting the state's standards that were significantly different from each other. In most cases, states' results showed greater positive changes than NAEP results.

In addition to report, NCES's mapping web site supplies profiles of proficiency standards for each state, frequently asked questions, and earlier reports. (Note: Secretary Duncan's statement on the report is available online.)

Top


ARRA Obligations

In a letter to the nation's governors, Deputy Secretary Tony Miller urges states to review their balances for funds awarded by the Department in Fiscal Year 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Under the Tydings Amendment, states and subgrantees, if applicable, have an additional fiscal year to obligate funding after the year the funds were made available for obligation. These specific ARRA monies were made available for obligation through the end of FY 2010 and remain available for obligation through the close of FY 2011, which ends on September 30, 2011. The Department is committed to working with states to ensure that available ARRA funds are being used appropriately and effectively with minimum risk of waste, fraud, or abuse. The Department has also posted a table to ensure the public is aware of the status of all awards with a September 30, 2011, obligation deadline.

Top


Grant Awards

This month, the Department announced grant awards under three different programs. First, 16 grants of $75,000 each were awarded to 11 small businesses to conduct research and develop technology that makes life and learning easier for individuals with disabilities. For example, one grantee will develop a low-cost computer graphics screen-reader for the vision-impaired; another will develop and evaluate an accident prevention system for manual wheelchairs; and another will design and develop a foot-operated mouse for computers. The Small Business and Innovation Research (SBIR) Program has two phases. Phase I determines the scientific or technical merit of the idea, with awards made for up to six months and a maximum of $75,000. Phase II expands on the previous results, with awards made for up to two years and a maximum of $500,000. Second, 12 states and districts will receive Advanced Placement (AP) Incentive Program grants to help low-income students have greater access to and succeed in AP courses. These grants, totaling $6.6 million, were awarded to promising programs, specifically increasing student access to rigorous courses in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). All the grantees include at least one persistently lowest-achieving school. Third, more than $5 million in grants were awarded to 19 [special education Parent Training and Information (PTI) Centers in 13 states and Puerto Rico. With the new grants, the Department funds 71 special education PTI Centers. Every state has at least one special education PTI Center, which assists parents as they work to ensure their children receive a free, appropriate public education as guaranteed by federal law.

Also: Last fall, in its new strategic plan, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) identified research as a mission-critical goal. Reflecting this new emphasis, the NEA has announced the availability of grants to conduct research into the value and impact of the U.S. arts sector, whether on individuals or communities. Grantees may use either existing or newly established datasets to conduct their research, including some of the longitudinal datasets from NCES. The NEA anticipates awarding up to 25 grants in the range of $10,000 to $30,000. The deadline for applications is November 8.

Top


Odds and Ends

  • Are you a visual learner? This week, the Department released the July 2011 edition of "School Days," its monthly video journal. This casual look back covers a dozen large and small events featuring Secretary Duncan and other senior officials, all in just a few minutes.

  • On August 9, the Secretary addressed Parade's All-American Service Team and commended them for bringing hope and inspiration to their local communities.

  • One day later, the Secretary joined key educators, policymakers, and business leaders in Tennessee for a White House Rural Council roundtable. The roundtable focused on education reform efforts being made in rural areas across the nation and how these reforms can lead to a highly skilled workforce and stronger economy. These conversations guide the work of the council and help government foster investment, support communities, and spur rural job creation.

  • The percentage of U.S. high school graduates meeting all four of ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks increased from 23% in 2007 and 24% last year to 25% this year, even as the "pool" of students taking the ACT continued to expand (up 25% since 2007). Based on the actual performance of successful students in college, these readiness benchmarks specify the minimum scores needed on each ACT subject area test to indicate a student is ready to succeed (a 50% chance of earning a "B" or higher or a 75% chance of earning a "C" or higher) in a typical first-year, credit-bearing college class in that subject area. Lack of college readiness is again most evident in the areas of math and science; just 45% of ACT-tested 2011 graduates are ready for college-level algebra, and only 30% are ready for college-level biology.

  • The federal government's web portal, USA.gov, has a Back to School landing page, with resources and tips to help students, parents, and educators prepare for the new school year.

  • The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which sets policy for NAEP (also known as The Nation's Report Card) is seeking nominations of qualified individuals to serve as board members for a four-year term starting October 1, 2012. NAGB is soliciting the broadest representation to fill positions in five areas: testing and measurement expert, state legislator (Republican), local board of education member, non-public school administrator, and general public representative. The deadline for all nominations is September 30.

Top


Quote to Note

"Our job is to support reform that is good for students at the state and local level. We need to get out of the way wherever we can. We need to be tight on the goals but loose on the means of achieving them, providing as much flexibility as possible while also maintaining meaningful accountability for improving student outcomes and closing achievement gaps. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) got it backward. It was loose on the goals but tight on the means, and, today, it's forcing states into 'one-size-fits-all' solutions that just don't work. The President understands this and has directed the Department to move ahead in providing relief in return for reform."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (8/8/11), announcing President Obama's directive on NCLB relief

Top


Upcoming Events

On a weekly basis, the Secretary's public schedule is posted online.

Every other Thursday since July 14, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the Department has been hosting "Summer Seminars at Six," a four-part summer information series for teachers. The last seminar, titled "Leading Their Profession: Teachers and Education Policy," is scheduled for August 25. Video and related materials from the first three seminars are available online.

Next week, the Department will exhibit at the Blacks in Government (BIG) National Training Conference in Boston (August 22-25) and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Partners in the Dream Public Exposition in Washington, D.C. (August 25-29). If you are attending either of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

Top


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
Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
To be added or removed from distribution, or submit comments (we welcome your feedback!), please contact Adam Honeysett. Or, visit http://www2.ed.gov/news/newsletters/edreview/index.html.


This newsletter contains hypertext links to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. These links are provided for the user's convenience. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information. Furthermore, the inclusion of links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.

Top



 
Print this page Printable view Bookmark  and Share
Last Modified: 08/30/2011