Race to the Top
Condition of Education 2012
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
On May 29, at an event in Hartford, Connecticut, with Governor Dannel Malloy and local, state, and federal officials, Secretary Duncan announced that eight additional statesConnecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Islandwill receive flexibility from the burdensome mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In exchange for this new flexibility, the states have agreed to raise academic standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to boost teacher effectiveness. "These eight states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB's one-size-fits-all federal mandates, in order to develop locally tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges," the Secretary stated. He also noted that many of the new, state-created accountability systems capture more students at risk. Connecticut's system, for example, raises the number of schools accountable for the performance of African-American students from 280 to 414; Hispanic students from 356 to 548; free and reduced-price lunch students from 757 to 928; English Learners from 97 to 209; and students with disabilities from 276 to 683.
The announcement brings the number of states with waivers to 19. Eighteen other applications are still under review. The Department expects additional states to request Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility by September 6. More information.
In the interest of transparency and to help inform other states, the Department has posted here both initial and approved flexibility requests, highlights of each state's plan, and peer review notes, as well as the agency's letter regarding peer review feedback and the Secretary's approval letter.
Race to the Top
Last week, the Department released proposed criteria for the 2012 Race to the Top program. This year's competition will build on the lessons learned from the previous state-level competitions and support bold, locally directed improvements in teaching and learning that will directly improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness. Specifically, the competition will reward school districts that have the vision and leadership to implement strategies, structures, and systems that move beyond one-size-fits-all models of schooling, which have struggled to produce excellence and equity for all children, to personalized, student-focused approaches that utilize collaborative, data-based strategies and 21st century tools to deliver instruction and supports tailored to the needs of each student, with the goal of enabling all students to graduate college- and career-ready. The criteria invites applications from districts or groups of districts serving at least 2,500 students with 40% or more qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch. Districts will choose to apply for funding to support strategies that personalize education in all or a set of schools, within specific grade levels or selected subjects. All districts are invited to apply. The criteria has been designed to ensure no district is at a disadvantage, including those already participating in a Race to the Top state grant, those not currently participating, and rural districts. There is nearly $400 million available for this competition. Awards will range from $15 to $25 million, depending on the population served through the plan. (Note: Secretary Duncan's remarks announcing the program are available online.)
In order to run a rigorous competition and obligate funds by the statutory deadline, the Department is waiving rulemaking for this new program, pursuant to its authority in the General Education Provisions Act. However, the agency is interested in input and has posted an executive summary of the draft requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions here. All interested parties are encouraged to submit comments and suggestions through this site until June 8 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
This summer, the Department will publish a notice of final requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions in the Federal Register, along with a notice inviting applications.
Also last week, state and district education leaders from across the country traveled to Cincinnati to share their strategies and best practices around a topic in education that seldom sees the spotlight: labor-management collaboration. For a second time, the Department partnered with national education organizations, including the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Chief State School Officers, Council of the Great City Schools, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, National Education Association, and National School Boards Association, to host a convening centered on changing the way that administrators, board members, and union leaders work together. At the opening of the event, Secretary Duncan joined leaders of the other co-sponsoring organizations in signing a shared vision for the future of the teaching profession that sets three goals around increased student achievement, equity, and global competitiveness, and addresses seven elements of a transformed profession. Also, district plans were shared during a three-hour "Transformers' Dialogue," where teams showcased their work in an expo-like fashion. And, teams attended breakout sessions led by experts and practitioners and had an opportunity to "shop" for key tools in a resource marketplace.
On May 21, President Obama returned to Joplin, Missouri, one year after a tornado leveled the town on graduation day, to celebrate its remarkable recovery and the first class of graduates since the storm. "As I look out at this class, and across this city, what's clear is that you're the source of inspiration todayto me, to this state, to this country, and to people all over the world," he said at Joplin High School's commencement ceremony. "By now, most of you have probably relived those 32 minutes again and again. Where you were. What you saw. When you knew for sure that it was over.... And yet, the story of Joplin isn't just the story of what happened that day. It's the story of what happened the next day, and the day after that, and all the days and weeks and months that followed." The President acknowledged the thousands who came to the aid of Joplin. "There are so many good people in the world. There is such a decency, a bigness of spirit, in this country of ours," he stated. "And so, Class of 2012, you've got to remember that. Remember what people did here. And like the man from Japan who came to Joplin [because he remembered that Americans were there for his country after last year's tsunami], make sure in your own life that you pay it forward." The President also asserted the Joplin story has a message about the "power of community" to bridge divisions and achieve common goals. "My deepest hope for all of you is, as you begin this new chapter in your life, you'll bring that spirit of Joplin to every place you travel, to everything you do," he said. "You can serve as a reminder that we're not meant to walk this road alone, that we're not expected to face down adversity by ourselves."
Soon thereafter, the Department awarded Joplin Schools an Extended Services Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant totaling $818,185, to continue assistance for ongoing recovery efforts.
The preceding weekend, Secretary Duncan gave the commencement address at Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, New Mexico.
Condition of Education 2012
On May 24, the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), released "The Condition of Education 2012," a Congressionally mandated report to the country on education in America today. The report presents 49 indicators grouped under three areas: participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education. The report also contains a closer look at high school students in the U.S. over the last 20 years. Among the findings: from 1999-2000 to 2009-10, the number of students enrolled in public charter schools quadrupled from 0.3 million to 1.6 million students; from 2000 to 2010, undergraduate enrollment in private, for-profit institutions quadrupled from 0.4 million to 1.7 million students; and, in 2010, roughly 82% of high school completers from high-income families (the top 20% of all incomes) enrolled in a two- or four-year college immediately after high school, compared to 67% of students from middle-income families and 52% of students from low-income families.
Odds and Ends
The State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program will award $1.9 million in competitive grants to Tribal Education Agencies (TEAs) to increase their role in the education of American Indian and Alaska Native students.
On May 30, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier delivered opening remarks at a public discussion on a newly released report, "Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research." The study, funded by the Department and conducted by the National Research Council, recommends a program of research and innovation to gain a better understanding of adult literacy learners, improve instruction, and create the supports adults need for learning and achievement.
Also on May 30, the Department announced an additional 92 school districts will have access to individualized data to help students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The selected districts, spanning 30 states, will be able to track whether their high school seniors have completed the FAFSA starting in the 2012-13 school year. These 92 new sites join 18 other districts that received data for the 2011-12 school year as part of the FAFSA Completion Project's initial pilot.
Teachers@ED profiles some of the hundreds of 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 Tate Gould, Deputy Director for Technical Assistance in the Implementation and Support Unit (ISU).
A new IES report, "The Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in School Accountability Systems," provides descriptive information on school-level accountability for those schools accountable for the performance of students with disabilities subgroup under ESEA.
The latest practice guide from the Department's What Works Clearinghouse, "Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 Through 8," offers teachers five recommendations for regularly incorporating mathematical problem solving into their classroom instruction.
The Department recently hosted the finalists in Cooking Up Change, a national healthy lunch competition. Each team used ingredients commonly found in school food service in a recipe that was limited to six steps. Students from Santa Ana's (CA) Valley High School won the competition with a lemon and spinach chicken dish accompanied by a Tuscan bean salad and cinnamon poached pears.
In related letters, Secretary Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius encourage college and university presidents and student associations to remind graduating seniors about their new health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.
Quote to Note
"Speaking personally and for so many parents, we all want a school that meets the unique needs of our children. All teachers want a way to inspire and challenge those students who are furthest ahead, provide targeted help and assistance to those furthest behind, and engage fully and effectively with the students in the middle. For a typical classroom teacher with 20-30 students, personalized education is a very ambitious goal, but it is possible. In fact, I have seen it in schools all across America, where great teachers are able to divide class time between lectures, small group work, and one-on-one support. For some teachers it involves technology. For others, it's about partnering with parents and folding non-school hours into a particular child's learning strategy. It might also involve teachers in training or other adults in the classroom. It might be all of the above or something altogether different. We are wide open to new strategies and approaches."
|||Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (5/22/12), announcing a district-level Race to the Top program|
Early next week, the Department will honor representatives of the 2012 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. The opening plenary session will air on June 4 at 8:30 a.m. EDT on the agency's USTREAM channel. To date, even before release of the 2013 nomination criteria, 16 states have indicated an intent to nominate schools for next year's competition.
Do you know someone who has been a role model and mentor to others within the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines? If so, please consider nominating them for the President's Award for Excellence in STEM Mentoring, which recognizes outstanding mentoring efforts that enhance the participation and retention of students and early career investigators, with a special emphasis on those who might not otherwise have considered or had access to opportunities in STEM fields. Nominations, including self-nominations, will be accepted until June 6.
The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge invites parents of children ages 8-12 to submit an original recipe for a lunch that is nutritious and delicious. Entrants have the chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C., as well as the opportunity to be invited to attend a Kids' "State Dinner" at the White House in August, where a selection of the winning healthy recipes will be served. Recipes may be submitted, online or via mail, through June 17.
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