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September 7, 2012 ED Review
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 September 7, 2012
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Back to School Tour
Blue Ribbon Schools
Race to the Top
More Champions
Constitution Day
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Back to School Tour

September 12-21, Secretary Duncan and senior Department officials will visit 12 states and dozens of cities across the nation as part of the Department's third annual Back to School bus tour. This year's theme is "Education Drives America." Various events will highlight education successes and engage communities in conversations about P-12 school reform, college affordability and completion, and the link between education and jobs.

More specific details about the bus tour stops will become available soon, but there are press releases for individual cities here.

Also, the public will be able to follow the tour online. And, there is an email list (subscribe here) for updates on the tour. Subscribers can expect to receive media advisories about the tour, press releases from the tour, and blog updates during the tour.

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Blue Ribbon Schools

Today, at Arlington Traditional Elementary School in northern Virginia, Secretary Duncan named 269 public and private schools as "2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools." This program recognizes exemplary high-performing schools (schools, regardless of their students' backgrounds, that rank among the state's best performing as measured by state assessments [public] or that score at the highest performance level on nationally normed tests [private]) and exemplary improving schools (schools, with at least 40% of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds, that have reduced the achievement gap by improving performance to high levels, again as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests). Chief State School Officers nominate public schools. The Council for American Private Education nominates private schools. Of the schools nominated by each state, at least a third must have 40% or more of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and public schools must meet No Child Left Behind's Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements, as defined by their states. All schools will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., November 12 and 13. The principal and a teacher will receive a flag and plaque. (Note: Nominated schools from California, Florida, Kentucky, and Ohio will be included following final certification by their Chief State School Officers.)

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Race to the Top

Last Friday (August 31), the Department announced that almost 900 potential applicants have submitted an intent to apply for the 2012 Race to the Top-District program, which will provide nearly $400 million to support local reforms that personalize instruction, close achievement gaps, and take full advantage of 21st century tools that prepare each student for college and careers. The list includes all those who submitted an intent to apply and does not indicate their eligibility for the competition. The intent to apply is non-binding, and potential applicants that did not submit an intent to apply may still apply for funding.

"I believe the best ideas come from leaders at the local level, and the enthusiastic response to the Race to the Top-District competition highlights the excitement that districts have to engage in locally designed reforms that will directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness," Secretary Duncan said. "We hope to build on this nationwide momentum by funding districts that have innovative plans to transform the learning environment, a clear vision for reform, and a track record of success."

The Department plans to support high-quality proposals from across a variety of school districts, including rural and non-rural, as well as those participating in a Race to the Top state grant and those not participating. The agency expects to make 15 to 25 awards. Awards will range from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the population of students served through the plan. Applications are due October 30. Grants will be announced no later than December 31. For more information, please go to. (Note: To assist applicants, the Department has issued additional answers to Frequently Asked Questions.)

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More Champions

Also last week, the White House and the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics honored educators who have devoted their time and energy to inspiring students to excel and promoting the teaching profession. During this event, 10 leaders—most of whom are Hispanic and English language learners—were honored as "Champions of Change." These leaders were recognized for their roles in building a culture of high expectations, improving instruction, creating safe environments for learning, and fostering professional development, among many other efforts to elevate the quality of education in their schools. Hispanic are the largest and fastest-growing minority group in public education but have the lowest education attainment levels. The President's Advisory Commission is working to help strengthen the P-12 education pipeline to ensure all Hispanic students graduate from high school prepared for college and careers, as well as have the resources they need to access and complete some form of postsecondary education. (Note: A report on the Administration's agenda and the Hispanic community cites education.)

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Constitution Day

September 17 is Constitution Day/Citizenship Day, commemorating the September 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution. In recognition, Congress has mandated that every educational institution receiving federal funds take a day to teach about the seminal document. (As September 17 falls on a religious holiday [Rosh Hashanah] this year, institutions may celebrate either the preceding or the following week.) To assist students and educators in their studies, free online resources are available from the Department's Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) web site, as well as the National History Education Clearinghouse and the National Archives and Records Administration.

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Odds and Ends

  • "Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study," a new report from the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), presents 46 indicators and multivariate analyses to document the scope and nature of gaps in access and persistence in higher education by sex and race/ethnicity. Among beginning higher education students who were recent high school graduates in 2004, the odds of attaining an associate's or bachelor's degree by 2009 were 32% lower for males than females, after accounting for background variables. Likewise, compared to white students, black students had 43% lower odds and Hispanic students had 25% lower odds. (Note: Secretary Duncan's statement on the report is available online.)

  • In Seattle, Department staff hosted the latest Urban-Native Education Listening Session.

  • Meanwhile, in the most recent session of the Secretary's Student Voices Series, Secretary Duncan and Under Secretary Martha Kanter heard from youth leaders with the United States Student Association.

  • The National Security Language Initiative for Youth is a multi-agency government initiative launched in 2006 to improve American's ability to engage with people from around the world who speak Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian, and Turkish. The Department of State awards merit-based scholarships to U.S. high school students for participation in summer and academic year language programs in countries and locations where these seven languages are spoken. Programs immerse participants in the cultural life of their host nation for invaluable language practice.

  • Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign mobilizes children and adults to close the early education achievement gap. On October 4, millions of individuals will read "Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad" by David Soman and Jacky Davis, attempting to set a world record in the process. There is still time to pledge to read, and simple tools are available to spread the word.

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Quote to Note

"My thoughts are with the Perry Hall High School community—students, families, and faculty—in this difficult time. Gun violence has no place anywhere, least of all in our nation's schools. I'd like to thank the local educators and law enforcement personnel who took action, to help prevent additional students from getting hurt. I recently had the chance to visit with Principal George Roberts and the teachers at Perry Hall. I know that he and Superintendent Dallas Dance are committed to keeping students safe and learning, and we stand ready to support them in that work."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (8/27/12), in a statement on the shooting in Baltimore, Maryland

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Upcoming Events

On September 14, during a webinar starting at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, a panel will discuss the results of the first-ever national, computer-based National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in writing. In 2011, the assessment was administered to students in grades 8 and 12.

The Green Strides Webinar Series has nearly 40 sessions scheduled through next spring, featuring programs and resources from the Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Beginning on September 19, the Department will exhibit at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

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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
To be added or removed from distribution, or submit comments (we welcome your feedback!), please contact Adam Honeysett. Or, visit http://www2.ed.gov/news/newsletters/edreview/index.html.


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Last Modified: 09/21/2012