NEWSLETTERS
June 29, 2012 ED Review
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 June 29, 2012
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ESEA Flexibility
Focus on Higher Education
Title IX Anniversary
Science in Action
Connecting Education Sites
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

ESEA Flexibility

Today, Secretary Duncan announced that five additional states—Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Virginia, and Utah—will 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. This announcement brings the number of states with waivers to 24. Thirteen other applications are still under review. The Department expects more states to request Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility this fall. 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.

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Focus on Higher Education

Over the last two weeks, the Administration has continued its focus on higher education.

First, on June 22, President Obama issued a message commemorating the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the federal Pell Grant program. "Forty years ago, our nation codified a commitment to bringing higher education within reach for every American by creating the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant, later renamed the federal Pell Grant after Senator Claiborne Pell, to honor his efforts in creating the program," the President said. "Pell Grants have helped millions of Americans achieve their fullest potential by not only opening the doors to college, but also providing students the financial support necessary to complete their studies and prosper in today's economy. That is why my Administration has prioritized Pell Grants as a source of funding they can count on each and every year. We have provided resources to support a 50% increase in Pell Grant recipients, giving college access to millions of additional students across our country; aggressively raised the maximum Pell Grant award to keep pace with rising costs; and strengthened the Pell Grant program by cutting banks out of federal student lending and delivering financial aid directly to students. By continuing to provide grants that extend educational opportunity to students, we make critical investments both in their personal success and in America's success in the 21st century." (Note: Secretary Duncan's own statement, expressing similar sentiments, is available online.)

Next, on June 26, Secretary Duncan participated in a panel discussion celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities' (APLU) National Convention. The Morrill Act of 1862 established land-grant colleges by providing all eligible states with 30,000 acres of federal land to be used toward establishing and funding educational institutions promoting "the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life." Eight months later, the Morrill Act of 1863 provided the creation of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Today, land-grant and the other public universities serve seven million students—having increased enrollment by 23% over the last 10 years—and conduct more than 60% of the federal research performed by universities."

In his remarks at the convention, the Secretary called on colleges and universities to provide students and their families with the clear, useful information they need to make a smart investment in higher education. This call to action follows the commitment that 10 institutional leaders made during a White House meeting with Vice President Biden earlier this month to provide all incoming students key pieces of information, as part of their financial aid package, beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year. To make it easier for institutions to provide transparent information, the Department, in partnership with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), gathered explicit input from students, families, and the higher education community to develop a Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. This shopping sheet—a model of what a good financial aid award letter would look like—will be available in the coming weeks.

Then, on June 26, the Department released new data on career training programs. The data, which covers career training programs at public, for-profit and non-profit schools, show that 5% of them—all located at for-profit colleges—do not meet any of the three key requirements of the Department's gainful employment regulations. Eventually, if they are unable to improve performance, these programs could lose access to federal student aid.

In related news:

  • President Obama again called on Congress to stop the interest rates on federal student loans from doubling (from 3.4% to 6.8%) on July 1.
  • This month's #Ask FAFSA Office Hours highlighted real borrowers in a variety of fields who are using various resources to repay their student loans.
  • During a live Q&A on Twitter, Secretary Duncan answered questions about college affordability.
  • A new report from the Departments of Education and the Treasury examines the economic case for higher education, confirming that higher education is critical for socioeconomic advancement and an important driver of economic mobility.
  • The third edition of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "Leaders and Laggards" series provides an in-depth evaluation of data and an analysis of postsecondary performance and policy across all 50 states.
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Title IX Anniversary

Speaking of anniversaries, the White House hosted a special event last week to celebrate the opportunities that Title IX has afforded women and girls across the U.S. in the 40 years since its enactment. It featured government officials (including Secretary Duncan) and leaders in the field discussing the past, present, and future of this legislation. The audience was comprised of leaders from the education, athletics, and women's rights communities, as well as high school girls from the area. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 required equal access to academic and athletic opportunities for all students—regardless of gender—in all of the educational programs and activities of a school, university, or other entity receiving federal financial assistance. (Note: The Secretary's remarks at the event are posted online.)

Also last week, the Secretary and other Cabinet officials and invited guests participated in a "Title IX Celebration Basketball Game" at the Department of the Interior. Before the event, the Department of Education published a new gender-based analysis of its Civil Rights Data Collection. The snapshot spotlights differences in educational opportunities between males and females from pre-kindergarten through higher education.

In addition, the Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a report on Title IX enforcement activities conducted by OCR during the Obama Administration, in areas such as access to comparable educational benefits, athletics, and sexual harassment and violence.

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Science in Action

As part of the 2009 science test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administered two types of innovative science tasks that invited students to put their science knowledge into practice: hands-on tasks (HOTs) and interactive computer tasks (ICTs). A new report, "Science in Action," presents the findings from this probe, revealing that fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade students can conduct science investigations using limited data sets, but many students lack the ability to explain results. Specifically, the report shows that students were challenged by parts of investigations requiring more variables to manipulate, strategic decision-making in collecting data, and the explanation of why a certain result was the correct conclusion. Want to try the tasks? Three of the HOTs and all nine of the ICTs have been released.

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Connecting Education Sites

On June 19, reporters and editors of sites that reach students, parents, and educators attended the first-ever White House Online Summit on Education. The event began with a briefing and Q&A session with Secretary Duncan, who spoke about a range of topics, from early learning to higher education. Then, Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy, led a series of briefings with other senior officials. Finally, participants engaged in a conversation about how the White House can better collaborate with online media. The summit was part of an ongoing series aimed at reaching out to online communities. The White House hosted personal finance sites last year and in April, and additional discussions have included African-American- and Latino-focused online publishers and editors of prominent women's sites.

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Odds and Ends

  • Last week, Secretary Duncan addressed more than 3,000 members of volunteer organizations during a plenary session of the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Chicago.

  • This week, the Secretary kicked-off this summer's "Let's Read! Let's Move!" series at a high school in St. Louis. The program, which supports the First Lady's campaign to fight childhood obesity, promotes summer learning and reading and healthy lifestyle choices.

  • The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have proposed requirements for Phase 2 of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge program. The agencies plan to implement Phase 2 by funding down the slate from the Fiscal Year 2011 competition, making awards available to the next five highest-scoring applicants: Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin. The states will be eligible to apply for up to 50% of their requested amount from last year's application.

  • Training materials developed by the Department's Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS) provide guidance on how bus drivers can effectively respond to and prevent bullying.

  • The Department's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) recently announced 24 new state-level grants to support the design and implementation of statewide longitudinal data systems.

  • The Department's Policy and Program Studies Service (PPSS) has issued some new evaluation studies: "Early Implementation of State Differentiated Accountability Plans Under the No Child Left Behind Act" (report, results in brief); "National Evaluation of Title III Implementation: Report on State and Local Implementation" (report, results in brief); and "Providing Effective Teachers for All Students: Examples from Five Districts" (report, results in brief).

  • Four strategies to improve elementary students' writing are described in a new practice guide from the What Works Clearinghouse.

  • On June 19, Jobs for the Future and the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HSGE) announced the launch of the Pathways to Prosperity Network, a collaboration with six states. The work will initially focus on a few key regional labor markets within each state, but the long-term goal is to create a statewide system of career pathways that can serve a majority of students.

  • National Summer Learning Day (June 21), demonstrating the value of summer learning programs and their work to combat the summer slide that can put children chronically behind in school, featured events as diverse as the field, from large gatherings in state capitols to small museum visits, as well as Twitter events and virtual book clubs. (Note: Events may be held any time throughout the summer and can be found on an interactive map.)

  • In response to some misleading stories, Secretary Duncan clarified the Administration's position on Washington, D.C. vouchers.

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Quote to Note

"Today's announcement [by President Obama halting the deportation of undocumented immigrant youth who grew up in the U.S. and meet several key criteria] will help ensure that thousands of talented and productive young people will more fully contribute to our nation. It is fitting that this announcement comes on the 30th anniversary of Plyler v. Doe, where the Supreme Court held that a child may not be denied equal access to public education based on his or her immigration status. This Administration is committed to upholding the promise of Plyler and will continue working vigorously to assure the American educational system remains open to all young people who reside in this country."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (6/15/12), in a statement on the President's new Department of Homeland Security policy on immigration

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Upcoming Events

You are invited to join the Department's second annual Teacher Summer Seminars. This summer's seminars—presented by teachers—will consider strategies used by teachers to ensure students' civil rights in the classroom and to engage them through personalized learning. The seminars take place at the Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C., but teachers can also join online through webinars.

On July 3, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, NAEP will release "The National Indian Education Study 2011," presenting findings about the performance of American Indian and Alaska Native students in reading and math and the role of native language and culture in their educational experiences.

Nominations are open through July 26 for the Secretary of Transportation's Recognizing Aviation and Aerospace Innovation in Science and Engineering (RAISE) Award, recognizing innovative scientific and engineering concepts by high school, college, and graduate students that will have a significant impact on the future of aviation or aerospace.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 07/05/2012