Quote to Note
Education was among the priorities in President Obama's January 21 Inaugural Address. Below are some relevant excerpts:
"Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character. But, we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.... No single person can train all the math and science teachers we will need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people."
"We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But, while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. And, that is what will give real meaning to our creed."
"It is now our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began.... Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunityuntil bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm."
(A reminder: The President will deliver his State of the Union address on February 12.)
On January 24, in a live Google+ Hangout, Vice President Biden sat down with participants from across the nation to talk about the Administration's proposals to reduce gun violence. The virtual roundtable was moderated by Hari Sreenivasan of PBS NewsHour, with guests Guy Kawasaki, an author and technology expert; Phil DeFranco, a media entrepreneur and host of the Phil Defranco show on YouTube; Theresa Tillett, a mother and grandmother living in Hartford; and Kimberley Blaine, a blogger and therapist who leads many parenting communities on Google. This was the Vice President's first hangout, and the first White House hangout of the second term.
Also last week, the Department launched a new video interview series, where Secretary Duncan addresses hot topics and burning questions in education. The first episode, titled "Free from Fear," focused on gun violence, school safety, and out-of-school factors influencing student achievement. Questions for the Secretary were derived from feedback received via social media and through outreach by the Department's Teaching Ambassador Fellows.
The Department recently released a series of new documents defining the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility program and ways in which participating states are advancing education reforms. ESEA flexibility enables state and school districts to maintain a high bar for student achievement while targeting resources to schools and students most in need of additional support. These documents include:
- "The Opportunity of ESEA Flexibility" (brochure)
- "Protecting School and Student Accountability" (fact sheet)
- "Advancing Accountability and Graduation Rates" (fact sheet)
- "Continuing to Expose and Close Achievement Gaps" (fact sheet)
- "Turning Around the Lowest-Performing Schools" (fact sheet)
- "Supporting Teachers, Leaders, and Local Innovation" (fact sheet)
The documents can also be found on the Department's revamped ESEA flexibility web page.
Meanwhile, the Department released student performance data in both reading and mathematics for all schools nationwide for school years 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11. This is the first time the agency is releasing school-level state assessment data. The data is reported to the Department under the requirements of the ESEA, as amended. It provides information on the total number of students who were assessed and received a valid score, along with the calculated percent of those students who score at or above state grade-level proficiency. Information is presented on student subgroups at each grade level, along with information on the school as a whole. In order to protect the privacy of individuals represented within the data, the percentage of students at or above grade level proficiency has been suppressed for very small student groups and "blurred" for larger groups.
Also, a new report from the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presents the latest release of the Averaged Freshmen Graduation Rate (AFGR) and the event dropout rate, disaggregated by year, gender, race/ethnicity, and grade. According to the report, during the 2009-10 school year, 78.2% of high school students nationwide graduated on time, a substantial increase from the 73.4% recorded in 2005-06. (Note: Secretary Duncan's statement on the report is available online.)
Moreover, the Department issued new state-specific reports profiling second-year progress on education reforms underway in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and the District of Columbiathe 12 grantees that secured Race to the Top funding in 2010 through the competition's initial two phases. The reports offer summaries of accomplishments made and setbacks experienced by states in pursuing reforms around Race to the Top's four assurance areas: raising academic standards, building robust data systems to improve instruction, supporting great teachers and leaders, and turning around lowest-achieving schools. Some states made strategic investments to develop tools and resources for teachers, students, and parents; launch state-level support networks; or develop additional science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. Other states launched new pipelines for teachers and leaders, supported key efforts to turn around low-performing schools, or implemented evaluation systems to support educators and inform continuous improvement. The agency's Implementation and Support Unit (ISU) has partnered with states to track progress and provide feedback as they implement large-scale reform. (Note: In addition, the Department has posted Annual Performance Report (APR) data for all Race to the Top states.)
This week, the Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance clarifying districts' existing legal obligations to provide equal access to extracurricular activities to students with disabilities. The guidance also urges districts to work with community organizations to increase athletic opportunities for students with disabilities, such as opportunities outside of the existing extracurricular athletic program. Students with disabilities have the right, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, to an equal opportunity to participate in their schools' extracurricular activities. The guidance supplies examples of the types of reasonable modifications that schools may be required to make to existing policies, practices, or procedures for students with intellectual, developmental, physical, or any other type of disabilities. The guidance also notes that the law does not require that a student with a disability be allowed to participate in any selective or competitive program offered by a district, so long as the selection or competition criteria are not discriminatory. (Note: The Secretary's blog entry on the issue is here.)
Also this week, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Michael Yudin joined more than 2,300 athletes and their coaches from 110 countries in South Korea for the Special Olympics World Winter Games.
On January 29, a grassroots alliance of community leaders, parents, teachers, and studentshailing from Boston to Oakland, California, and many communities in betweenmet with Secretary Duncan, members of the Department's leadership team, and Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy Roberto Rodriguez in an open forum at the agency's headquarters to discuss the complex issue of school closures. "We want to listen to your thoughts and ideas," the Secretary said. "Let's not just describe the problem; let's talk about solutions."
While the decision to close a school is not made at the federal level, OCR is investigating complaints about school closures in six states, filed by alliance members who cite those actions as discriminatory toward low-income, minority communities. Dozens of representatives described the toll closings have had on them, their families, and their communities. Some discussed safety concerns caused by walks to and from their new schools; others talked about the inequities they saw between schools that had been closed and those that replaced them.
A panel of senior Department officials participated throughout the two-hour event, listening and responding to comments. While the rhetoric was often heated and passionate, the forum concluded with a better understanding of the issue at hand. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deb Delisle pledged that the alliance's proposals would be thoughtfully reviewed by the Department.
Quote to Note
"We have to get out of the catch-up business, and the best way to get out of the catch-up business and to level the playing field is to get our babies off to a great start. [The best investment that we can make] is to increase access to early childhood educationmaking sure it is high-quality and reaching children and communities historically underserved.... If our children enter kindergarten ready to learn, I feel fantastic about where they can go."
|||Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (2/1/13), interviewed on Bloomberg Radio's "Bloomberg EDU"|
Secretary Duncan will take part in the Alliance for Excellent Education's second Digital Learning Day (February 6), celebrating teachers and spotlighting successful instructional technology practices in classrooms.
On February 7, the Secretary will testify at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on ESEA flexibility.
Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe
Please feel free to contact the Office of Communications and Outreach with any questions:
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Intergovernmental AffairsStacey Jordan, (202) 401-0026, Stacey.Jordan@ed.gov
Program AnalystAdam 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.
This newsletter contains hypertext links to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. These links are provided for the user's convenience. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information. Furthermore, the inclusion of links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.