College Attainment Data
IDEA Determination Letters
Green Ribbon Schools
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
On July 6, President Obama signed legislation preventing interest rates on federal student loans from doubling. The law maintains an interest rate of 3.4% for subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduates. If Congress had not acted, the interest rate would have increased to 6.8% beginning July 1 for an estimated 7.4 million students expected to get new loans this academic year, adding an additional $1,000 to the average cost of each loan. "I want to thank all the Americansthe young and the young at heartwho took the time to sit down and write a letter or type out an email or make a phone call or send a tweet, hoping that your voice would be heard on this issue," the President said during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. "This step will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans. But, make no mistakewe've got a lot more to do." (Note: Secretary Duncan's statement is available online, and a video of students' voices is posted here.)
While the aforementioned student loan interest rates remain the same, there are a number of new requirements for federal student aid programs that became effective July 1.
Also, the Department has released a new, interactive loan counseling tool to provide students with financial management basics, like information about their current loan debt and estimates for student loan debt levels after graduation. This Financial Awareness Counseling Tool provides students with five interactive tutorials covering topics ranging from managing a budget to avoiding default. Students are able to access their individual loan history and receive personal feedback that can help them better understand their financial obligations. Furthermore, college financial aid professionals can monitor a student's progress in using the tool and offer assistance, if necessary, to help ensure they can utilize the information the site provides.
College Attainment Data
This week, the Administration released new numbers showing college attainment state-by-state based on the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (three-year averaged estimates for 2007-09 and 2008-10). All told, the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with some kind of postsecondary degree increased half a percentage point, from 38.8% to 39.3%. The numbers include a calculation of each state's share to meet the President's goal for the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. To be first in the world in the proportion of college graduates with an associate's degree or higher, the nation must increase the national college attainment rate by 50% from its current level by 2020. This would lift the nation as a whole to a 60% college attainment rate. (Note: The Department's College Completion Tool Kit has information that state leaders can use to help colleges in their state increase their completion rates.)
Secretary Duncan recently announced that Washington and Wisconsin 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 26. Eleven other applications are still under review. Fourteen states have not yet requested a waiver through this process, but the Department expects more states to request Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility this fall.
Meanwhile, the Department announced that seven statesAlabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, and West Virginiamay freeze their Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) for the coming school year, while they work on their waiver requests. These states may use the same AMOs to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) determinations based on assessments administered during the 2011-12 school year that they used to make such determinations based on assessments administered during the prior school year. Approval is based on the determination that this waiver is likely to increase the quality of instruction for students and improve the academic achievement of students by enabling states, school districts, and schools to devote resources to planning for the implementation of ESEA flexibility rather than devoting resources to respond to the growing numbers of schools and districts that would be identified for improvement as a consequence of escalating AMOs required by current law.
In the interest of transparency and to help inform other states, the Department has posted here information on where states stand in the waiver process.
IDEA Determination Letters
As required by law, the Department has issued annual determination letters regarding states' implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Each state was evaluated on key indicators under Part B (ages 3 through 21) and Part C (infants through age 2) and placed into one of four categories: meets requirements, needs assistance, needs intervention, and needs substantial intervention. Most states fell into the top two categories; 29 states met requirements for Part B, and 36 states and Puerto Rico met requirements for Part C. No states were in needs substantial intervention. For states in the lower categories, the IDEA identifies specific technical assistance or enforcement actions that the agency must take under specific circumstances.
Green Ribbon Schools
Criteria and a variety of nomination materials are now available for the 2012-13 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition program. Among these materials is a framework, providing recommended measures by which to evaluate schools and select nominees, and a sample application, offered as an optional tool for nominating authorities to assist them in selecting schools. States are encouraged to indicate their intent to nominate schools for the upcoming school year by August 30. Already, more than 30 states have notified the agency. Also, all schools may register for the Green Strides Webinar Series to connect with helpful programs and resources.
Odds and Ends
The June 11 Teacher Summer Seminar, held at the Department and via webinar, featured current and former teachers offering both the theory and practical strategies for teachers interested in moving classroom learning beyond a one-size-fits-all mentality.
The Department has announced 124 highly-rated Development grant pre-applications, all of which are invited to apply for a share of the nearly $150 million 2012 Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund. Among them, 23 focus on teacher and principal effectiveness; 39 focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education; 32 focus on parent and family engagement; 20 focus on school turnarounds; and 10 focus on rural education. Applicants are eligible to apply for awards of up to $3 million that will fund new education programs that exhibit strong potential to improve student achievement and merit further exploration and research.
In a special blog post, John Wilson, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, notes "28 years after the first Morrill Act [signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago], a second Morrill Act established many of the nation's public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). States were given a choice to either admit African-Americans or create separate institutions. Eighteen HBCUs were created in response."
A U.S. District Court upheld the Department's authority to regulate college career programs but found it had not provided enough explanation of its debt repayment measure.
Quote to Note
"It is a remarkable milestone that, in only five months, more than half the states have adopted state-developed, next generation education reforms to improve student learning and classroom instruction, while ensuring that resources are targeted to the student that need them most. A strong, bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) remains the best path forward in education reform, but as 26 states have now demonstrated, our kids can't wait any longer for Congress to act."
|||Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (7/6/12), approving two more states for ESEA flexibility|
Register today for the 2012 HBCU Week Conference, September 25 and 26 in Washington, D.C. Approximately 600 representatives from black colleges and universities, federal agencies, corporations, and foundations are expected to participate in discussions on issues of interest for the HBCU community.
July 25-28, the Department will exhibit at the National Urban League's Conference in New Orleans. If you are attending this event, please stop by the Department's booth.
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