NEWSLETTERS
April 20, 2012 ED Review
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 April 20, 2012
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Early Learning
Promise Neighborhoods
Postsecondary Success
Strengthening CTE
School Improvement Challenge
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Early Learning

On April 9, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced that $133 million from this year's $550 million Race to the Top Fund will be available for continued investments in state-level comprehensive early education reform. The agencies intend to fund down the Fiscal Year 2011 slate, inviting the next five states that participated but did not receive awards in last year's competition—Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin—to apply. These five states each earned at least 75% the total points possible in the 2011 competition. The states will be eligible to apply for up to 50% of their requested award amount from last year's application. The agencies will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register in the near future with the full details of this proposal.

A day later (April 10), Secretary Duncan joined National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) Director Steve Barnett to discuss release of the "2011 State Preschool Yearbook," the latest in a decade of annual reports profiling state-funded preschool programs in the U.S. According to the 2011 Yearbook, though student enrollment in preschool has soared, state funding per child nationwide continues to decline (by $715 per child, when adjusted for inflation, between the 2001-02 and 2010-11 school years), keeping the quality of many states' preschools low. "High-quality early learning is arguably the greatest investment we can make, which is why our Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge supports states committed to providing this important opportunity to more children," the Secretary emphasized. "Raising the quality of early learning and expanding access to effective programs plays a pivotal role in improving our children's chances at being successful in grade school through to college and careers." (Note: The Secretary's full remarks are available online.)

Also, the Department has launched a new early learning mapping site, allowing individuals to use tools to look at discretionary grant programs that focus on or include early learning, and posted revised non-regulatory guidance for school districts and school using Title I, Part A funds to implement high-quality preschool programs.

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Promise Neighborhoods

Today, the Department released the 2012 application for the Promise Neighborhoods program, which will provide $60 million to continue support for existing implementation grantees and award a new group of planning and implementation grants. Non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes are invited to apply for funds to develop or execute plans that will improve educational and developmental outcomes for students within distressed neighborhoods. Applications are due July 27, with winners selected and awards made in December 2012. (Note: The Office of Innovation and Improvement [OII] will conduct several webinars for potential applicants. Participants will be required to register in advance. Additional information will be posted in the coming days.)

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Postsecondary Success

To provide a more accurate picture of student persistence and completion and address concerns from institutions about the limitations of existing success measures, the Department has released an action plan that takes concrete steps to augment current measures of student success in postsecondary education. Graduation rate reporting now required for institutions of higher education will be broadened to include part-time and other students who have previously attended higher education. Current law excludes a substantial portion of the student population by only requiring that schools track graduation rates for full-time, first-time students.

The action plan responds to the final report of the Committee on Measures of Student Success (CMSS), which was created under the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) to help two-year institutions comply with the law's disclosure requirements and develop alternate measures of student success. The 15-member committee, appointed by Secretary Duncan in June 2010, held five public meetings over 13 months and made a number of recommendations that are incorporated into the action plan. The broader measures of student success will be implemented for two- as well as four-year schools.

The action plan also includes activities and grant opportunities to help institutions and states strengthen capacity to collect and disseminate quality data. Among them: developing easy-to-use templates that schools can use to meet the HEOA's disclosure requirements; making improved data collection and reporting a focus in its postsecondary education initiatives and grant programs; continuing to provide incentive funding to strengthen states' data infrastructure through Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) grants, which will make its fifth round of awards this spring; and convening a summit, this year, to highlight promising practices in the collection of data related to student success, such as student learning and employment.

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Strengthening CTE

This week, during a two-day visit to Wisconsin and Iowa (Day 1 and Day 2), Secretary Duncan released the Administration's blueprint for transforming career and technical education (CTE), by reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The last Perkins authorization, in 2006, introduced important changes in federal support for CTE, helping to improve the learning experiences of students. However, it did not go far enough to systemically create better outcomes for students and employers competing in today's global economy.

With a $1 billion investment in the Administration's Fiscal Year 2013 budget, the blueprint will transform the Perkins program in four key areas:

  • Alignment. Ensuring the skills taught in CTE programs reflect the actual needs of the labor market so that CTE students acquire the 21st century skills necessary for in-demand occupations within high-growth industry sectors.
  • Collaboration. Incentivizing secondary schools, institutions of higher education, employers, and industry partners to work together to ensure that CTE programs offer high-quality learning opportunities.
  • Accountability. Requiring CTE programs to show, through common definitions and related performance measures, they are improving academic outcomes and enabling students to build job and technical skills.
  • Innovation. Promoting systemic reform of state-level policies to support effective CTE implementation and innovation at the local level.

In related news, President Obama met with students at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, to discuss the Administration's job training initiatives, and Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter testified before a Senate subcommittee on "filling jobs today and training workers for tomorrow."

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School Improvement Challenge

Also this week, Together to Tomorrow, a joint initiative of the Department, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the Corporation for National and Community Service to spur community engagement in turning around the nation's lowest-performing schools, launched its School Improvement Challenge for the 2012-13 school year. The Challenge is an opportunity for schools and districts, higher education institutions, and non-profit organizations to join with other partners in efforts to improve their neediest schools by raising key measurable student outcomes: attendance, behavior, course performance, and college access. Plans may be submitted to catalyze new partnerships as well as spotlight and expand exemplary initiatives already working to raise student achievement and strengthen a community culture of educational success. Plans may encompass a single local community or a regional, state, or national endeavor with multiple sites. The Challenge is not a new grant program but, rather, an approach to better coordinate resources and initiatives. All schools and communities that meet the criteria will garner national recognition and become part of a learning network. Selected applicants will also be invited to attend a special event in Washington, D.C. Plans must be submitted by June 29.

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Odds and Ends

  • Last week, Secretary Duncan addressed the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues' Dinner.

  • On April 17, the Secretary joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the Education Commission of the States' (ECS) second Summit on the Role of Education in Economic Development in Rural America to highlight the Administration's commitment to and accomplishments in improving education and the economy in rural areas.

  • Then, at the April 18 meeting of the White House Rural Council at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the two secretaries signed an interagency agreement to advance agricultural education.

  • Teachers@ED profiles some of the current and former teachers who work at the Department and how their experiences in schools inform their work for the agency. The latest entry profiles Jose Rico, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Another entry spotlights the White House Hispanic Community Action Summit in Los Angeles.

  • A new White House report, "Keeping America's Women Moving Forward: The Key to an Economy Built to Last," examines the ways in which the Administration has worked to ensure women's economic security through all stages of life.

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Quote to Note

"I am saddened to see that Pat Summitt is stepping down as the basketball coach at the University of Tennessee because she has set the gold standard for coaches everywhere.... Yet, as extraordinary as Pat's record is on the court, it's every bit as exceptional off of it. Pat has an unparalleled ability to develop leaders and champions from the court to the classroom. During the 38 years she coached the Lady Vols, every single player who completed her eligibility at Tennessee graduated, and dozens of her players went on to become coaches themselves. Her career is a powerful reminder that the job of the coach is not just to win games but to be a mentor and help develop the life skills of their players. Now, as she moves on to continue her courageous role as a spokesperson in the fight against Alzheimer's, I know she will continue to educate and teach so many of us once more."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (4/18/12), in a statement on the resignation of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt

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Upcoming Events

A reminder: on April 23, during Earth Week, Secretary Duncan, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson will announce the first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.

On April 26, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, the Department's Office of Communications and Outreach (OCO) will host an Education Stakeholders Forum focused on the progress of School Improvement Grant (SIG) recipients. As with previous forums, the meeting will take place at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. However, in an effort to make the information shared readily available, the Department will also be live streaming this forum. No registration is necessary for the live streaming.

Registration is open for National Rural Education Technology Summit 2.0. This free virtual conference, on April 30 from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, will use the power of technology to "overcome distance, bring resources to rural schools, and engage students, teachers, and administrators." The interactive program has science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) sessions, professional development opportunities, and messages from Secretary Duncan, Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) Chair Julius Genachowski, and Smithsonian Institution Secretary G. Wayne Clough.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will exhibit at the National School Boards Association's Annual Conference in Boston (April 21-23) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' Annual Meeting in Philadelphia (April 25-28). If you are attending either event, 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:
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Intergovernmental Affairs—Stacey Jordan, (202) 401-0026, Stacey.Jordan@ed.gov
Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 04/24/2012