NEWSLETTERS
March 1, 2013 ED Review

 March 1, 2013
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Sequestration
Equity and Excellence Strategy
Grad Nation
PROMISE Program
Mega-States Results
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Sequestration

Today, absent any last-minute action by Congress, automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts—also known as the sequester—will go into effect. These cuts will have real consequences, especially for young children in low-income families, students with special needs, and teachers. Last month, Secretary Duncan testified before the Senate about the negative effects of sequestration. This week, he appeared on "Face the Nation", noting, "We don't have to be in this situation. This is not rocket science. We could solve this tomorrow if folks had the will to compromise—to come to the table and do the right thing for children and to try and keep growing the middle class." Also, the White House released new state-by-state reports showing how the sequester will impact jobs and middle class families, and the Department issued Title I and special education impacts by state and Title I impacts by the nation's 100 largest school districts.

Meanwhile, at a White House dinner on February 24 and meeting on February 25, President Obama discussed sequestration with the nation's governors. The President also emphasized some areas where states are making strides that can be replicated across the country, including education. "I want to partner with each of you to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America," he said. "This is an area where we've already seen great bipartisan work at the state level. All of us want our kids to grow up more likely to read and write and do math at grade level, graduate from high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own." (Note: Later this morning, Secretary Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will visit a preschool and Head Start classrooms in Takoma Park, Maryland, to highlight the importance of early learning.)

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Equity and Excellence Strategy

On February 20, after two years of work, the Equity and Excellence Commission formally presented its report to Secretary Duncan. The 27-member commission, including scholars, state and local educators, union leaders, and education reformers and advocates, was charged to provide advice to the Secretary on the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap, with a focus on systems of finance, and ways that the federal government can address such disparities. "For Each and Every Child" explicitly offers a five-part framework of inter-related recommendations to guide policymaking, targeting: equitable school finance; teachers, principals, and curricula; early childhood education; mitigating poverty's effects; and accountability and governance. The commission was autonomous, and its recommendations do not necessarily represent the views of the Department, but "The Commission has sounded a powerful and important alarm about the distance we still have to go to improve education for every American child," the Secretary declared upon receiving the report.

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Grad Nation

According to a report update released at the third annual "Building a Grad Nation" Summit, the U.S. is on track to meet the national Grad Nation goal of a 90% high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020. The national high school graduation rate has increased 6.5 percentage points since 2001, to 78.2%, with an average growth of 1.25 points each year from 2006 to 2010. As a result of this acceleration, more than 200,000 additional students received diplomas in 2010 than 2006. In large part, the growth was driven by significant improvements in African-American (from 59.2% in 2006 to 66.1% in 2010) and Hispanic (from 61% in 2006 to 71.4% in 2010) graduation rates. The South also contributed to this growth, with five of the top 10 states with the greatest improvements since 2006. In addition, the number of "dropout factories"—high schools in which twelfth-grade enrollment is 60% or less of ninth-grade enrollment three years earlier—totaled at 1,424 in 2011, down from a high of 2,007 in 2002 and 1,550 in 2010.

At the summit, Secretary Duncan and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Wendy Spencer announced a competitive grant program that will provide $15 million in public funds over three years to reinforce and accelerate intervention efforts in the nation's lowest-performing schools. The new School Turnaround AmeriCorps will support the placement of a dedicated cadre of AmeriCorps members in persistently under-achieving schools. This approach seeks to increase student achievement, attendance, and graduation rates, as well as college- and career-readiness in those schools. Since 2009, the Department has invested $4.5 billion in more than 1,300 of the nation's lowest-performing schools. Currently, CNCS programs have a presence in a quarter of schools eligible for School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding. School Turnaround AmeriCorps will augment these investments, expand opportunities for national service, and supply struggling schools with new talent to support the implementation of school improvement plans. The program also extends the efforts of Together for Tomorrow, a cooperative initiative among the Department, CNCS, and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to boost community engagement in improving outcomes at chronically under-performing schools. A notice of intent to apply must be submitted to CNCS by April 2. Applications are due April 23.

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PROMISE Program

The Department has posted a Public Input Notice (PIN) for a new competitive grant program. The purpose of the Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) is to fund model demonstration projects in states to promote improved outcomes for children who receive SSI and their families. Under PROMISE, projects must form strong and effective partnerships among those state agencies responsible for programs that play a critical role in serving SSI recipients and provide coordinated services and supports designed to improve the education and employment outcomes of SSI recipients. Governors' offices—identified as required partners in the PIN—and other agencies and organizations are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the PIN, participate in webinars, and submit written comments on the PIN blog. All comments must be received by March 17 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Note: The next webinar is this afternoon from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. ET. Another webinar will be offered on March 5 at the same time. Instructions on joining the webinars are available here.)

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Mega-States Results

For the first time, a new National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report card summarizes results in several subjects from multiple states—and holds clues from which other states may learn. "The Nation's Report Card: Mega-States" presents achievement results for students in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas—the five most-heavily populated states, serving nearly 40% of the nation's public school students—in grades 4 and 8 in reading, mathematics, and science. The findings include average scores among the five states, as well as national averages and results among various subgroups. Results are also reported at or above Proficient achievement levels. Overall, progress toward proficiency is promising in math but mixed in reading.

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Odds and Ends

  • On February 26, the White House honored 10 Americans as "Champions of Change" for their work in promoting educational excellence for African-Americans in their communities and announced David Johns as the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans.

  • On February 27, some 100 leaders came to the White House for a discussion about how to make schools, institutions of higher education, and houses of worship safer through the creation of high-quality emergency management plans.

  • Then, on February 28, First Lady Michelle Obama kicked-off Let's Move! Active Schools, a collaboration to bring physical activity back to America's schools. The initiative offers simple steps and tools to help schools create environments where students get 60 minutes of physical activity before, during, and after the school day. The ambitious goal is to engage 50,000 schools in this program over the next five years.

  • The new Green Strides: Environment, Health, and Facilities at ED web page provides school communities with access to tools to move toward the three pillars of the agency's Green Ribbon Schools recognition award: reducing environmental impacts and costs; improving the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability literacy.

  • Also, the Department recently launched version 3.0 of ED Data Express, an interactive web site aimed at making accurate and timely K-12 education data available to the public. ED Data Express consolidates relevant data collected by the agency from several different sources and provides a variety of tools that allow users to explore the data and create individualized reports. Specifically, the latest site includes a revised home page and State Snapshot page with improved visualizations and more intuitive navigation.

  • Prior to his third appearance in the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game, Secretary Duncan sat down with current and former NBA and WNBA players to speak with five high school student-athletes about the importance of education and how sports can play a critical role in maturation on and off the court.

  • Then, about a week after President Obama proposed redesigning high schools to equip graduates with the skills employers demand in his State of the Union address, the Secretary visited Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, which prepares students for future success through restoration of the local marine environment.

  • In a February 28 letter to Chief State School Officers, the Secretary requested immediate action to reduce gender-based violence in schools and ensure all students are safe. The letter was released at a White House event on teen dating violence prevention. The Department's National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments also released a new training module, "Get Smart, Get Help, Get Safe" to help school nurses, counselors, and psychologists identify and respond to signs of abuse.

  • The College Board's latest "Advanced Placement Report to the Nation" shows 19.5% of the Class of 2012 achieved mastery (at least a 3 on a 5-point scale) on one or more AP exams.

  • "Dual Credit and Exam-Based Courses in U.S. Public High Schools: 2010-11," an update to a 2002-03 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), supplies data on dual credit course enrollment, the types of institutions in dual credit courses, and expenses paid by students and parents.

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Quote to Note

"Unfortunately... Congress is poised to allow a series of arbitrary, automatic budget cuts to kick-in that will slow our economy, eliminate good jobs, and leave a lot of folks who are already pretty thinly stretched scrambling to figure out what to do.... Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to deal with finding child care for their children. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings. Now, these impacts will not all be felt on Day One. But, rest assured, the uncertainty is already having an effect. Companies are preparing layoff notices. Families are preparing to cut back on expenses. And, the longer these cuts are in place, the bigger the impact will become."

        President Barack Obama (2/25/13), addressing governors at the White House on the impact of sequestration

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Upcoming Events

The first event in the Department's 2013 Community College Webinar Series is scheduled for March 7, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. ET. Experts from the field and local practitioners will discuss transforming adult education to better prepare adult learners to successfully transition to postsecondary education and training.

On March 12, at 11:00 a.m. ET, NCES will release "Algebra I and Geometry Curricula: Results from the 2005 High School Transcript Mathematics Curriculum Study." The report looks at the math course-taking patterns of America's high school graduates to examine the content and challenge of algebra and geometry courses in our nation's public high schools.

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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
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Last Modified: 03/08/2013