NEWSLETTERS
July 19, 2013

ED Review ... ...a bi-weekly update on U.S. Department of Education activities relevant to the Intergovernmental and Corporate community and other stakeholders

What's inside...
Early Learning
Higher Education
School Turnaround Grants
IDEA Determination Letters
President's Education Awards
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Early Learning

On July 8, Secretary Duncan joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius for an online gathering of more than 20 non-profit organizations and thousands of leading children's advocates to promote high-quality early learning opportunities for the nation's youngest children. They highlighted the need to give all children a strong start so that they have a better chance to thrive in school and stay on track for college and career success. The event, "Rally4Babies: Learning Happens from the Start," was led by Zero to Three, a national non-profit organization that informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers, and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers. Noted journalist Soledad O'Brien hosted the event and, in addition to the Secretaries, interviewed actress Jennifer Garner, America's Promise Alliance Board Chair Alma Powell, and children's musician Laurie Berkner.

Then, on July 16, Secretary Duncan traveled to Minneapolis for a town hall with Governor Mark Dayton on the importance of investing in high-quality early learning programs. Minnesota, a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grantee, has made early learning a priority through an Office of Early Learning, an Early Learning Council, and a Children's Cabinet. Also, this year, Governor Dayton signed a bill that invests nearly $200 million in early learning, which will help tens of thousands of additional children attend high-quality child care, preschool, and all-day kindergarten. (Note: While in town, the Secretary also addressed teachers at the National Network of State Teachers of the Year National Conference, urging them to lead the transformation of the teaching profession.)

Later today (July 19), Secretary Duncan will travel to Denver for a similar early learning town hall with Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia. The event will be broadcast live at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time. Colorado is a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grantee, and the state's Early Childhood Leadership Commission works to ensure and advance a comprehensive service delivery system for children birth to age 8. (Note: While in town, the Secretary will also co-host a conversation with the Hispanic community with Governor John Hickenlooper, Lieutenant Governor Garcia, and U.S. Senator Michael Bennett and serve as a panelist for an education symposium at the Biennial of the Americas international festival.)

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Higher Education

Last week, Secretary Duncan spoke about the "nation's higher education agenda" at the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. "I would make the case to you today that higher education is approaching a crossroads, where leaders will be asked to choose between incremental and transformational change," he said. "At the heart of this choice is a paradox. In many ways, America's system of higher education is still the envy of the world.... And yet, for all its historic and current successes, our system of higher education must get dramatically better. In an era of the knowledge-based, global economy, America has to rapidly accelerate college attainment to prosper and maintain the global competitiveness of our individual states and nation."

In response to the three "core challenges" of high prices, low completion rates, and too little accountability, the Secretary anticipates two ideas taking hold. First, the system of state and federal grants and loans will start to shift more toward a performance-based and outcomes-based system—one that does more to reward innovation. Second, leveraging of educational technology will increase student learning, as well as institutional performance and productivity.

"I am actually optimistic that states and institutions of higher education are beginning to move beyond the trap of the so-called iron triangle [of quality, access, and cost]," he added, outlining a number of pioneering programs and positive data points. "There are universities, community colleges, and state leaders all across America that are thinking boldly.... We just need to take transformational change to scale—and show that the iron triangle is not so rigid after all."

The following new blog posts also spotlight higher education:

  • "Duncan to Grads: Follow Your Passion," on the Secretary's commencement speeches this spring.
  • "Road to College," with tips and tools from the agency to help high school seniors get a head start this summer.
  • "Summer Melt," on alleviating, via simple measures at home during the summer, the issue of college-eligible students not attending in the fall.
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School Turnaround Grants

This week, just days after President Obama created a new federal task force to identify more ways that the public and private sectors can partner together to support national service as a strategy for tackling national priorities, the Education Department and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced the first grants under the new School Turnaround AmeriCorps program. Launched in February 2013, the School Turnaround AmeriCorps program is designed to support the placement of a dedicated cadre of AmeriCorps members in schools implementing school turnaround interventions, as required by the Department's School Improvement Grant (SIG) program or through Elementary and Secondary Education Act(ESEA) flexibility. AmeriCorps members will help keep students on track to graduate by working to increase student academic achievement, attendance, and high school graduation rates; improve college- and career-readiness; and provide college enrollment advice and assistance.

The program will be supported by an initial investment of $15 million in public funds from both agencies over the span of three years. CNCS will seek to raise additional private funds to contribute to this effort. Moreover, AmeriCorps members who complete their service in the program will qualify for aSegal AmeriCorps Education Award, which could total $1.5 million a year for all participants.

The program supports organizations that serve low-performing schools around the country and expands on Together for Tomorrow, an initiative between the Department, CNCS, and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

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IDEA Determination Letters

As required by law, the Department has issued annual determination letters regarding states' implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Each state was evaluated on key indicators under Part B (ages 3 through 21) and Part C (infants through age 2) and placed into one of four categories: meets requirements, needs assistance, needs intervention, and needs substantial intervention. Most states fell into the top categories; 38 states met requirements for Part B, and 37 states and Puerto Rico met requirements for Part C. No states were in needs substantial intervention. The IDEA identifies specific technical assistance or enforcement actions that the agency must undertake for states that do not meet requirements.

Also: President Obama announced his intent to nominate Michael Yudin as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. He is currently Acting Assistant Secretary. Previously, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.

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President's Education Awards

The Department recently announced 2013 President's Education Awards Program (PEAP) recipients, honoring nearly three million students from over 30,000 schools across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Every year, K-12 students are eligible to receive individual recognition from the President and Secretary of Education for their achievements toward educational excellence (gold seal) and outstanding educational growth (silver seal). The award includes a congratulatory letter and certificate. The school principal is the final authority on which students receive awards and the number of qualifying students, based on eligibility and selection requirements. There is no limit on awards, as long as students meet the criteria for awards.

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Odds and Ends

  • Last month, President Obama and Secretary Duncan announced ConnectED, an initiative to connect almost all schools to high-speed Internet. Last week, the Secretary discussed ConnectED and his ideas about digital learning with Teaching Ambassador Fellow Dan Brown. Also, about 50 education organizations have co-signed a letter of support for the ConnectED vision.

  • During the opening session of the National Association for Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Annual Conference, the Secretary talked aboutprincipal leadership, early learning, and school safety. He was joined on site by the Department's Resident Principal Joshua Klaris.

  • On June 27, as part of the ED Youth Voices series, two powerful young women spoke to agency staff about how their civic engagement work has empowered them to be better students and leaders.

  • Then, on July 10, more than 175 preschool and elementary school children from the area participated in the kick-off of this summer's "Let's Read! Let's Move!" enrichment series, featuring figure skater Michelle Kwan, White House chief Sam Kass, and Congressman John Kline. Another event was held July 17, and future events will be held July 24, August 1, and August 6.

  • New guidance on the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers program answers questions on expanded learning time under the ESEA flexibility optional waiver.

  • The Department is seeking qualified individuals to serve as peer reviewers for a new Race to the Top-District competition. Resumes and a completed questionnaire are due by August 4.

  • A technical review for the two consortia of states developing the next generation of assessments evaluated progress to date and urged the consortia to ensure their tests are accessible to English language learners and students with disabilities.

  • This year's Promise Neighborhoods directors meeting brought together administrators, evaluators, and practitioners to strengthen relationships, forge new ties, and expand the knowledge of how to truly construct a cradle-to-career promise in communities.

  • Don't miss these new reports from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): data on postsecondary tuition, fees, and degrees;characteristics of private schools in the U.S.; and national and state-level revenues and expenditures for public elementary and secondary education.

  • "America's Children 2013," prepared by the 22 federal agencies of the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (including NCES), is a compendium of the latest data and trends on children and their families. This year's report contains a special feature on the kindergarten year.

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Quote to Note

"Ultimately, the challenges to our higher education system can only be met via a shared partnership with clear responsibilities, involving all levels of government, institutions, and students, as well as the business, education, labor, and philanthropic communities. It's time to end the buck-passing and blame game, where college leaders blame high schools for sending ill-prepared students, high school principals blame the elementary schools, elementary school principals blame the preschool programs, and preschool teachers blame the parents. At every stage from cradle through career, our students are always our students.... There must be no more cracks to fall through. Collectively, we must own both the challenges and the solutions."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (7/9/13), on the coming crossroads in higher education

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Upcoming Events

On July 25, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. ET, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will hold a live, public webinar on music learning and brain development. This is the latest webinar hosted by the NEA's Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development, an alliance of 17 federal agencies and offices that encourage more and better research on how the arts help people reach their full potential at all stages of life. Please register in advance.

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Director Andrea Falken and Special Advisor to the Secretary Don Yu will visit Green Ribbon Schools in New England July 29 and 30, as part of the second leg of the agency's "Education Built to Last" Facilities Best Practices Tour. (A blog post on the first leg in Alabama is here.) The tour is highlighting school building and grounds design, construction, operations, and management to support health, educational outcomes, equity, energy efficiency, and cost savings. (Note: States are asked to indicate their intent to participate in next year's U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools competition, nominating up to four schools and a district, by sending a message to Green.Ribbon.Schools@ed.gov before August 1.)

Register today for the 2013 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference, September 26 and 27 in Washington, D.C. Approximately 600 representatives from black colleges and universities, federal agencies, corporations, and foundations are expected to participate in discussions on issues of interest for the HBCU community.

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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: 07/23/2013