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October 19, 2012 ED Review
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 October 19, 2012
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Together for Tomorrow
Higher Education Summit
Postsecondary Data
ESEA Flexibility
Equal Futures Partnership
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Together for Tomorrow

On October 15, the Department and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recognized 24 organizations from across the nation as Together for Tomorrow (TFT) School Improvement Challenge winners for the 2012-13 school year. Also recognized were seven demonstration sites operating as part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program through CNCS. TFT, a joint initiative of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Department, and CNCS, highlights community-led partnerships to support struggling schools.

The Challenge was an opportunity for schools and school districts, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations to join with other partners in efforts to improve their neediest schools by raising key measurable outcomes in attendance, behavior, course performance, and college access—the ABCs. Plans were submitted to give national recognition to new initiatives, as well as spotlight and expand exemplary existing initiatives to strengthen a community culture of educational success in struggling schools. The Challenge is not a grant program but, rather, an approach to better coordinate resources and efforts.

Ultimately, TFT aims to change the fundamental relationship between schools and community partners, so working toward positive results for lowest-performing schools is viewed as everyone's responsibility.

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Higher Education Summit

On October 18, Secretary Duncan delivered remarks on the importance of accelerating attainment and achievement in higher education and then participated in a panel discussion at the TIME Summit on Higher Education in New York City. "I think we all agree that the future of higher education is vitally important to America's future," he said. "But, I would also suggest to you that higher education is approaching a crossroads, where leaders will be asked to choose between incremental and transformational change. At the heart of this choice is a paradox. In many ways, our system of higher education is still the envy of the world.... And yet, for all its success, our system of higher education has to get dramatically better. In the era of the knowledge-based, global economy, America has to rapidly accelerate college attainment and learning to prosper and maintain its global competitiveness."

The Carnegie Corporation of New York—in cooperation with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, TIME magazine, and Time Warner—convened the TIME Higher Education Summit, bringing together more than 100 leaders of American colleges and universities, federal and state officials, and corporate and philanthropic leaders. Panels discussed critical challenges and opportunities facing higher education: access, cost, globalization, and technology. The summit coincided with the release of a special issue of TIME magazine on higher education.

While on the island of Manhattan, the Secretary also joined PENCIL's Principal for a Day event at P.S./I.S. 111, and Deputy Under Secretary of Education Georgia Yuan celebrated Lights On Afterschool! at Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School.

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Postsecondary Data

A new "First Look" report from the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presents some preliminary findings from the spring 2012 data collection of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). For example:

  • In fall 2011, institutions enrolled 18.6 million undergraduate and 2.9 million graduate students. Among the 18.6 million undergraduates, 57% were enrolled in four-year institutions, 41% in two-year institutions, and 2% in less-than-two-year institutions.
  • Approximately 59% of first-time, full-time students at four-year institutions in 2005 who were seeking a bachelor's degree or equivalent completed a bachelor's degree or equivalent within six years at the institutions where they begin their studies.
  • During fiscal year 2011, public, four-year institutions and administrative offices received 19% of their revenues from tuition and fees, compared with 29% at private, non-profit institutions and 90% at private, for-profit institutions. Moreover, 29% of expenses at public, four-year institutions were for instruction, versus 42% at private, non-profit schools and 54% at public, less-than-two-year schools.
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ESEA Flexibility

The Secretary recently announced that Idaho will receive flexibility from the burdensome mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In exchange for this new flexibility, Idaho has 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 34, plus the District of Columbia. Twelve other requests for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility are still under review. Six states have not requested a waiver through this process.

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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Equal Futures Partnership

Last month, the Administration joined 12 international leaders for the launch of the Equal Futures Partnership, a new, multi-lateral initiative to break down barriers to women's political participation and economic opportunity. The U.S. contribution to Equal Futures includes a renewed commitment to opening more doors to high-quality education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for women and girls, who currently hold only one-quarter of all American jobs within these fields, despite making up nearly half of the total U.S. workforce. These efforts build upon the President's and First Lady's calls for an "all-hands-on-deck" effort to break down barriers to attracting girls and retaining women in STEM fields.

Among the steps that the White House announced in support of Equal Futures are improving data collection and dissemination on women in science and technology, bolstering the available pool of skilled STEM mentors, encouraging research-based STEM teaching, and helping to connect women to online and mobile skills training. Several leading businesses, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations have also made commitments to advance women and girls' economic and political empowerment at home and abroad. They are dedicating themselves to launching new and innovative programs to support women and girls in STEM fields, connecting women entrepreneurs to markets and supply chains, and supporting research to advance girls' leadership.

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Odds and Ends

  • Representatives from the [National Council of Young Leaders, a newly established organization with a diverse membership of young people, met with Secretary Duncan and Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Delisle to share their recommendations for increasing opportunities for youth and decreasing poverty.

  • A new Federal Student Aid (FSA) blog entry spotlights five things to know about student loans.

  • The Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program provides K-16 educators with unique opportunities for overseas experience. The program is open to teachers and administrators with responsibilities for curriculum development in fields related to humanities, languages, and area studies. The topics and host countries vary annually, although all seminars are in non-western European countries. There is one seminar being offered next summer in China, with 14-16 positions, subject to the availability of funds. The deadline for applications is December 10.

  • On October 9, the Department announced the IDEAL Currency Identifier, a free application to assist individuals who are blind or visually impaired to denominate U.S. currency on some mobile devices. The application was developed through a grant from the agency's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

  • The U.S. Census Bureau has released infographics representing the "Educational Path of Our Nation," which includes trends in student enrollment, costs, and educational outcomes.

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Quote to Note

"When it comes to turning around low-performing schools, the Department's investments and the work of schools and districts are only part of the solution. Our schools need community engagement to support and sustain school improvement. The Together for Tomorrow Challenge winners recognized today have made model commitments to help foster partnerships, propel school improvement, and produce better outcomes for students. To sustain change over the long haul, nothing is more important."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (10/15/12), announcing the 2012-13 school year's Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Challenge winners

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Upcoming Events

The winner of the 2012 Broad Prize for Urban Education will be announced on October 23. One of four finalists will claim the $1 million prize, for college scholarships for graduating high school seniors. The proceedings will be webcast live, starting at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

On October 24, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the Department's Family Policy Compliance Office will present via webinar a basic overview of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This one-hour presentation will be geared toward local school officials.

To cap Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is offering its third annual National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Workshop, October 30-November 1 at its Maryland campus. NICE is focused on enhancing the overall cybersecurity posture of the U.S. by accelerating the availability of education and training resources designed to improve the cyber-behavior, knowledge, and skills of every segment of the population. The workshop will feature four tracks focused on NICE's primary goals: Raising Awareness: Online Safety Starts with You!; Education, Professionalism, and Certifications; Training and Maintaining a Competitive Cybersecurity Workforce; and the Role of Cybersecurity in Competitions. Attendees will also observe students competing in a challenge.

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Last Modified: 10/23/2012