NEWSLETTERS
May 18, 2012 ED Review
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 May 18, 2012
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Teacher Appreciation Week
School Restraint and Seclusion
NAEP Science
Commencement Address
New Assessments
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Teacher Appreciation Week

The Department celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7-11) with an array of events and outreach.

Secretary Duncan kicked-off the week with an issue-framing article in the Huffington Post. "Most teachers still say they love teaching, though they wouldn't mind a little more respect for their challenging work and a little less blame for America's educational shortcomings," he said. "With half of new teachers quitting within five years, and with half of current teachers set to retire in the next 10 years, the need for dramatic change in the field of education is urgent and timely. There's much underway and much more to be done, but, whatever we do to strengthen and elevate the teaching profession, we should bear in mind that all reforms that fail to heed the voice of teachers are doomed."

Also on May 7, a vision document for reforming the teaching profession was posted on ED.gov for public comment. The 14-page document reflects input from more than 2,500 teachers across the country who participated in some 200 roundtable meetings led by the agency's Teaching Ambassador Fellows (active classroom teachers working temporarily for the Department) over the past six months. The Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT) Project is the Administration's effort to honor and elevate America's educators. The Administration's proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget seeks $5 billion for a new, competitive program to support states and districts working to reform the teaching profession. RESPECT explores transformative ideas for improving classroom instruction, making the most of the school day and year, strengthening the relationship between teachers and principals, and distributing talent to high-need schools and subjects. In addition, it discusses effective methods for recruitment, training, development, and creating career pathways that encourage talented teachers and leaders to maintain professions in education. The vision document will be open for comment until June 19.

Then, on May 9, the Secretary made a surprise visit to Luke C. Moore High School in Washington, D.C., thanking teachers and staff during their Teacher Appreciation Week breakfast celebration. In addition, more than 50 Department officials (both political appointees and career staff) spent the day shadowing a teacher. That evening, the teachers being shadowed and their shadowers met with the Secretary to share stories and implications for their work.

During the week, the Secretary also encouraged the general public to thank teachers and show support for the teaching profession via Twitter and videos; made several surprise phone calls directly to educators; gathered Department staff who are former teachers for a special session celebrating their work in the classroom and highlighting how their experience as teachers has impacted their government work; joined National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel for a Teacher Hall of Fame reception at NEA headquarters; and attended Teach for America's second annual gala.

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School Restraint and Seclusion

This week, the Department issued a publication that outlines principles for educators, parents, and stakeholders to consider when developing or refining policies and procedures to support positive behavioral interventions and avoid the use of restraint and seclusion. The goal of this resource document is to help ensure that schools are safe and healthy environments where all students can learn, develop, and participate in instructional programs that promote high levels of academic achievement. "Ultimately, the standard for educators should be the same standard that parents use for their own children," asserted the Secretary. "There is a difference between a brief time out in the corner of a classroom to help a child calm down and locking a child in an isolated room for hours. This really comes down to common sense." The 15 principles that frame the document highlight how schoolwide behavioral interventions can significantly reduce or eliminate the use of restraint and seclusion. The principles offer states, districts, and leaders a framework for revising appropriate policies related to restraint and seclusion to safeguard children and adults. The document also provides a synopsis of efforts by federal agencies to address national concerns about using restraint and seclusion in schools and includes links to state restraint and seclusion policies and procedures.

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NAEP Science

According to the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the nation's eighth-grade students have improved their performance in science and narrowed some racial/ethnic achievement gaps since 2009. The average score increased two points, from 150 to 152 (out of 300). Scores rose among public school students in 16 of the 47 states that participated in both 2009 and 2011, and no state showed a decline in science scores. And, the five-point gain by Hispanic students and the three-point gain by African-American students from 2009 to 2011 was greater than the one point gain among white students. By contrast, the gender gap remained essentially unchanged: male students scored four points higher than female students in 2011. (Note: Secretary Duncan's statement on the results is available online.)

In related news, the first public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is out for review until June 1. The draft standards were created through a collaborative, state-led process. To date, 26 partner states are providing leadership to the writing teams and to other states as they consider adoption of the NGSS.

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Commencement Address

Below are excerpts from Secretary Duncan's May 12 commencement address at Howard University.

"I feel fortunate to be here today to share in something which I think we do too little of in the field of education—celebrate success. To our graduates, and to their families who have supported them on the journey, my congratulations. Although I am so pleased to be here today, this occasion is a humbling one too. I know the rich history here, and we need Howard, and all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), not just to survive but to thrive as we move forward.... I stand here fully aware that Howard has been a crucible for social action and a proving ground for American justice."

"If I can leave you with two messages today, the first would be to pursue your passion in the years ahead. Experience the life-altering opportunity to find what you love—and stick with it, even if it may take you down some unexpected or unconventional paths.... The second piece of advice that I would pass on is to continue the powerful Howard tradition of giving something back, of paying it forward.... Your goal in life can't just be to do well for yourself. I love Howard's motto, 'Truth and Service.'"

"The President's election shattered barriers few dreamed would be broken in our lifetimes. But there are still barriers ahead—and I have every faith that your generation will break them. As the President said when he spoke at Howard's convocation in 2007, one man does not make a movement. Only you, together, can do that. So, as you leave here today, savor the moment. Cherish the celebration, your family, and your friends. But, please, always remember you stand on the shoulders of giants."

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New Assessments

Reports released earlier this month by the Department outline Year 1 activity by the two consortia—the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced)—designing new assessments aligned with college- and career-ready standards. The state-led effort moves into Year 2 with an ambitious agenda, including releasing sample questions and piloting the new assessments in spring 2013. Once the new assessment systems are completed, participating states will use them in place of existing statewide tests. The tests will also be available for non-participating states to use. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia are members of PARCC or Smarter Balanced. The two consortia have received $350 million in federal Race to the Top funds.

Also, the fourth public meeting related the Race to the Top Assessment grants, scheduled for May 22 at the Department's auditorium in Potomac Center Plaza in Washington, D.C., will focus on learning from previous federal grantees about ensuring accessibility to assessments for students with disabilities.

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Odds and Ends

  • The April 2012 edition of "School Days," the Department's monthly video journal, features the President's calls for quick action by Congress to avoid a doubling of the student loan interest rate, the Secretary's announcement of the first-ever Green Ribbon Schools, and the Administration's plans for transforming career and technical education.

  • Superintendents, school board members, and union leaders from 41 states and over 100 districts will meet in Cincinnati May 23 and 24 to share innovative ideas and successful policies that strengthen the teaching profession, from recruiting new candidates to retaining talent already in the classroom. This is the second such convening, following the February 2011 conference in Denver. This year's conference is focused on innovative approaches to improving student achievement by dramatically boost the stature of the teaching profession and the number of highly effective teachers.

  • A transcript and video of the Department's latest Education Stakeholders Forum, on the progress of School Improvement Grant (SIG) recipients, is posted online.

  • To celebrate Public Service Recognition Week (May 6-12), the Department dedicated this month's #AskFAFSA Office Hours to the nation's public servants.

  • Senior Policy Advisor Karen Gross blogged on the recurring questions and concerns that arose during her recent trip to New England to meet with students, faculty, and staff at Dover High School (NH); senior administrators at the University of New Hampshire; and base commanders and military spouses at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (ME).

  • Late last year, the Department encouraged both high school and college students to come up with creative videos that explain why college net price calculators—which give families a sense of how much they would actually pay to attend a specific institution by factoring in which grants and scholarship aid students may be eligible for—are a valuable resource. A panel of higher education stakeholders judged all the entries, and, on May 15, the agency announced the top three videos. The three students will each receive a $1,500 prize.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services has announced the availability of new funding for the construction and renovation of school-based health centers.

  • The National Endowment for the Humanities is inviting proposals for new projects that advance the role of the humanities at community colleges through curriculum and faculty development on the theme of "Bridging Cultures."

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Quote to Note

"People sometimes ask me, 'Who inspires you?' Those quiet heroes all across this country—some of your parents and grandparents who are sitting right here—no fanfare, no articles written about them, they just persevere. They do their jobs. They meet their responsibilities. They don't quit. I'm only here because of them. They may not have set out to change the world, but in small, important ways, they did. So, whether it's starting a business, or running for office, or raising an amazing family, remember that making your mark on the world is hard. It takes patience. It takes commitment. It comes with plenty of setbacks. But whenever you feel that creeping cynicism, whenever you hear those voices say you can't make a difference, whenever somebody tells you to set your sights lower, the trajectory of this country should give you hope. Previous generations should give you hope. What young generations have done before should give you hope."

        President Barack Obama (5/14/12), delivering the commencement address at Barnard College (NY)

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Upcoming Events

On May 22, Secretary Duncan will announce the Department's plans for a district-level Race to the Top competition. The forum will air at 12:00 noon Eastern Time on the agency's USTREAM channel.

On May 24, at 10:00 a.m. ET, the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will release "The Condition of Education 2012." This report contains 49 indicators on education in the U.S., as well as a closer look at high schools over the last 20 years. (Note: NCES will present the report's highlights on a webinar on May 24 at 1:00 p.m. ET.)

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, at 3:00 p.m. local time, Americans are asked to stop what they are doing and spend one minute in a Moment of Remembrance.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 05/23/2012