NEWSLETTERS
December 14, 2012 ED Review
Archived Information


 December 14, 2012 (Happy Holidays!)
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What's inside...
Race to the Top
Event Log
International Comparisons
Family Engagement
Tribal Nations Conference
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Editor's Note

This is the final issue of ED Review for 2012. Publication will resume January 4, 2013. We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

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Race to the Top

On December 6, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services announced that all five eligible states—Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin—will receive a share of $133 million in funding under the second round of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge. The first round of competition in 2011 attracted 37 applications and awarded $500 million to nine states. With more modest funding, the second round of competition in 2012 invited the next five highest-scoring states to modify their applications and create plans that could be funded with up to 50% of the original amount requested. "Every child deserves the lifelong advantages of a high-quality early learning program," Secretary Duncan noted. "Thanks to the leadership of governors, state officials, and education advocates across the 14 Early Learning Challenge states, thousands more of our youngest children will receive a stronger start to learning the skills needed to succeed in kindergarten through college and career." (Note: Grant award amounts, abstracts, and applications are posted here.)

Then, on December 11, the Department announced that 16 applicants—representing 55 school districts across 11 states and the District of Columbia—will receive a share of nearly $400 million in funding under the Race to the Top-District competition. These applicants were the top scorers among the 372 applications received last month, which were evaluated and scored by independent peer reviewers. They represent a diverse set of districts, including those from states that received a Race to the Top state grant and those that have not received Race to the Top state funding and a rural area consortium of 24 rural districts. "Districts have been hungry to drive reform at the local level," the Secretary said, "and these winners can empower their school leaders to pursue innovative ideas where they have the greatest impact: in the classroom. District grantees have shown tremendous leadership through developing plans that will transform the learning environment and enable students to receive a personalized, world-class education." (Note: Requested award amounts, peer reviewer comments and scores, and a summary chart of scores are posted here. Applications will be posted shortly.)

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Event Log

In the past two weeks, in addition to announcing Race to the Top grants, Secretary Duncan participated in several local events.

  • First, on December 3, he joined Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy as five states announced their participation in a major new effort to expand and redesign the school day and year at 40 schools in 11 districts. All participating schools will add at least 300 additional hours of instruction and enrichment to the standard school year of 180 6.6-hour days. The states will receive technical assistance from the National Center for Time and Learning (NCTL), as well as capacity building grants from the Ford Foundation, which has committed $3 million a year over the next three years. (Note: In conjunction with the announcement, NCTL released a new report showing a significant increase over the last three years in the number of schools that have expanded learning time.)
  • Second, on December 6, he delivered brief remarks at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) Tribute to Recent Collective Bargaining Successes. In his remarks, he discussed the importance and power of labor-management collaboration in moving education reform. He also addressed the critical role FMCS has played in supporting this work at the national level and across the country.
  • Third, also on December 6, he participated in a panel discussion at the NAACP's Education Summit, where the organization released a new report identifying best practices for educating all children and providing recommendations for advancing equity and closing student achievement gaps.

Moreover, he was in New Orleans on December 4, meeting with local leaders to discuss the progress of education reform in the city, and on Staten Island on December 13, learning about the experiences of students, parents, educators, and community members impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

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International Comparisons

The latest international assessments of student performance—the 2011 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)—"provide both encouraging news about American students' progress and... cautionary notes." On the one hand, U.S. fourth-grade students have made significant progress in reading and math from 2007 to 2011. Indeed, U.S. fourth-graders now rank among the world's leaders in reading literacy, and their achievement in math is only surpassed, on average, in three countries. On the other hand, the learning gains in fourth-grade are not being sustained in eighth-grade, where math and science achievement failed to significantly improve in the last five years. There are also large and persistent achievement gaps. Notably, Florida participated as a separate system in PIRLS in 2011, and nine states participated as separate systems in TIMSS in 2011. So, for the first time, parents and policymakers have data to gauge how academic performance in a substantial subset of states compares with the U.S. as a whole and with international competitors. Students in Florida, Massachusetts, and North Carolina excelled internationally in a number of subject areas. (Note: Secretary Duncan's statement and recent blog entry on the assessment results are available online.)

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Family Engagement

On December 5, the Secretary joined more than 80 family engagement thought leaders at D.C. Scholars Stanton Elementary School to discuss the high correlation between family engagement and academic outcomes and how the Department can provide more support. Stanton's Academic Parent Teacher Teams, as well as help from a federal School Improvement Grant, have contributed to a dramatic increase in the academic performance of students and a cultural shift at the school. Yet, despite the evidence and logic, many schools and educators struggle with how to cultivate and sustain effective family engagement initiatives. As part of this event, Dr. Karen Mapp (an agency consultant) unveiled a draft framework of new ideas about a possible future focus and direction for family engagement. The Department will continue to solicit feedback on the framework over the coming year. (Note: The agency's Parent and Family Engagement web page offers a variety of resources.)

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Tribal Nations Conference

Also last week, the White House hosted the 2012 White House Tribal National Conference, building upon the President's commitment to strengthen the government-to-government relationship by giving invited leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with representatives from the highest levels of the Administration. In his remarks, Secretary Duncan emphasized that the Administration is committed to tribes, citing such examples as the President's Executive Order establishing the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, the launch of the State-Tribal Education Partnership, and support from the Department's School Improvement Grants. However, he said there is a "distance we have yet to travel." "Together, we must do more to nurture the next generation. Native youth need, and absolutely deserve, safe homes, safe communities, and an education system that prepares them for success in college and careers. They need and deserve an education system that prepares them for leadership and service to their communities, tribes, and county.... Your children are ready. They just need a light to show them the way." (Note: For the conference, the White House released a report that examines the President's agenda and how the Administration, by working together with tribes, has made a difference for American Indians/Alaska Natives.)

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Odds and Ends

  • The Department's Office of School Turnaround has released new award and continuation applications for Fiscal Year 2012 School Improvement Grants funding.

  • Session presentations and recordings from the 2012 Federal Student Aid (FSA) Conference are available online.

  • Last week, in a speech to the Inter-American Development Bank, Secretary Duncan sketched out the core principles of the Department's agenda for education reform and discussed in some detail the agency's approach to career-technical education (CTE), the importance of all students developing global competencies, and the need for the U.S. to help rebuilt the education system in Haiti.

  • This week, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deb Delisle testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on ending the "school-to-prison pipeline."

  • Also, a group of formerly incarcerated youth met with the Secretary and Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier, refusing to let their past lives determine their future.

  • Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren recently spoke to an audience of scientists and innovators, including the student finalists of the Siemens Foundation Competition in Math, Science, and Technology, making the case that a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is one of the most powerful routes to a career that is both successful and meaningful to society.

  • A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presents results for student performance on the systematic measure of vocabulary in the 2009 and 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading, showing a consistent relationship between performance on vocabulary and reading comprehension.

  • A revised NCES report presents data on postsecondary education enrollment, graduation rates, and finances.

  • Thomas Brock, known nationally for conducting rigorous evaluations and using mixed methods to understand community college reforms and other programs, has been named the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Research (NCER).

  • The Voices of 4-H History Project aims to increase public awareness of the Cooperative Extension Service, established nearly 100 years ago by the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, and its 4-H Youth Development Program.

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Quote to Note

"Too many new teachers enter our schools feeling unprepared. We shouldn't tolerate that in a profession so important to our country's future. I am grateful to Randi Weingarten and AFT for leading a conversation about how to raise the bar and predict an individual's potential for success in the classroom. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is a natural partner for this project. Together, let's develop a comprehensive strategy to recruit our nation's next generation of great teachers, prepare them well for this challenging work, and compensate and support them as the professionals they are."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (12/3/12), in a statement praising the American Federation of Teachers' (AFT) "Raising the Bar" report

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Upcoming Events

Final 2012 grant awards for the Investing in Innovation (i3) and Promise Neighborhoods programs will be announced next week.

The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with other federal agencies, is seeking applications from after-school and out-of-school programs for the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. Twelve applicants will receive $10,000. The deadline for applications is February 4, 2013.

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Last Modified: 12/19/2012