NEWSLETTERS
November 8, 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...
College Rating System
NAEP Reading and Math
Travel Log
Recognition Day/Weeks
The Big Read
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

College Rating System

In a Federal Register notice published October 30, the Department announced four public forums across the country to gather public input about President Obama's proposals to address rising college costs and make college more affordable for American families. The first forum was held at California State University at Dominguez Hills on November 6; future forums will be held at George Mason University (VA) on November 13, the University of Northern Iowa on November 15, and Louisiana State University on November 21. These forums coincide with the Department's upcoming Request for Information to ask experts to weigh-in on methods for creating a college rating system that would better inform students and encourage institutions to improve. "One of the best ways to address the challenges to our higher education system is through shared input," Secretary Duncan asserted. "We plan to engage as many stakeholder groups and individuals as possible to help us develop proposals that are useful to students and take into account the diversity of America's colleges and universities."

Those who wish to present comments or feedback at a public forum should register by sending a message at least three days prior to the forum to collegefeedback@ed.gov. Walk-in registrations will also be accepted for any remaining time slots, on a first-come, first-served basis. Each participant will have five minutes. Transcripts of the forums will be posted on the College Affordability web site. For those unable to attend a forum in person, ideas may be submitted to collegefeedback@ed.gov. Also, anyone can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #valuecollege.

In addition to hosting the forums, the Department will continue to plan and participate in outreach events like roundtable discussions, town hall conversations, and meetings with key stakeholders. To date, senior officials have participated in events in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., with groups, including the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), independent college groups, and student leadership associations. Over the next few weeks, officials will also meet with community colleges, business leaders, faculty, parents, and others.

Early next year, the Department will also host a technical symposium where external experts can engage in further discussion and deliberate on these issues in depth. The agency will then publish a summary of the recommendations that were developed as a result of the Request for Information and the symposium, as well as other resources identified by those participating in the symposium, on the College Affordability web site. The Department will use all the feedback it receives to inform the development of college rating metrics, which it will share in the spring for public comment.

In related news:

  • The Department's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced an outreach campaign to groups of federal student loan borrowers to ensure they know and understand all their repayment options. The new outreach augments the day-to-day communications provided by borrowers' student loan servicers. FSA's campaign is aimed at reducing borrower delinquency and default and improving awareness of income-driven repayment plans, which allow borrowers to repay their student loans on a sliding scale that adjusts their payments based on their income and family size.
  • A FSA blog post identifies "Four Things You Need to Know About Repaying Your Student Loans."
  • A FSA blog post addresses "Which Student Loan Repayment Plan Should You Choose?"
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NAEP Reading and Math

According to data from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the "Nation's Report Card," the nation's fourth- and eighth-graders continued their steady upward trend in reading and mathematics, posting the highest scores ever on the test. Notably, after remaining flat for the last decade, scores edged up in eighth-grade reading. Also, Hispanic achievement is up since 2011, and higher-achieving students are making greater progress than in recent years. Nevertheless, the increases are modest—American students still score significantly below their peers from high-performing nations—and the majority of achievement gaps have remained unchanged since 2011. Tennessee, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity showed statistically significant improvement in all four grade/subject combinations. California, Hawaii, and Washington also showed real progress. (Note: Secretary Duncan's statement on the results is available online.)

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Travel Log

Secretary Duncan traveled to Ohio last week for events as part of his Partners in Progress tour to see America's ingenuity in education. First, he delivered remarks at the Rural Education National Forum, hosted by Battelle for Kids and the Ohio Department of Education, in Columbus. He highlighted education reforms that are working for students in rural areas and the President's ConnectED proposal to connect 99% of students nationwide to next generation broadband in their schools and libraries in five years. Second, he hosted a town hall at Dunbar Early College High School, a Race to the Top and School Improvement Grant (SIG) recipient, in Dayton. He recognized significant academic strides by students and praised school partnerships with an early college charter school, local community college, and business organizations.

The Secretary also traveled to Kentucky last week, delivering remarks to more than 15,000 FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) members at the organization's national convention in Louisville; meeting with students, teachers, and leaders at Sand Gap Elementary School in rural Jackson County, which receives federal Promise Neighborhoods grant funding; and visiting with a family in Save the Children's Early Steps to School Success program and hosting an early learning town hall at Pleasant View Elementary School in rural Whitley County.

Then, this week, the Secretary traveled to Haiti. He visited three schools, met with national leaders, and shared insights aimed at helping the Haitian Ministry of Education implement a reform agenda. He also announced a new education investment in Haiti under the U.S. Agency for International Development's Room to Learn program, focused on making education more accessible for all children.

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Recognition Day/Weeks

  • Veterans Day (November 11) celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. Schools are encouraged to invite veterans into their classrooms. Veterans can share their experiences and teach students lessons about the history and significance of Veterans Day, helping students reflect upon the importance of the ideals of liberty, freedom, and democracy. (Note: A teacher resource guide is available online.)

  • American Education Week (November 18-22) celebrates teachers and school staff. The week's tagline, "Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility," is a call for all Americans to do their part in making public schools great for every child. During the week, education support professionals will be honored on Wednesday, and substitute educators will be honored on Friday.

  • International Education Week (November 18-22) celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This year's theme is "International Education: Learning Matters Around the World." Secretary Duncan has recorded a message inviting the general public to participate.

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The Big Read

The National Endowment for the Arts' The Big Read, now in its seventh year, provides citizens with the chance to read and discuss a single book within their communities. Governments, libraries, and non-profit organizations are encouraged to apply for one of approximately 75 grants that will be awarded for programming occurring between September 2014 and June 2015. The application deadline is January 28, 2014. Besides the grant, communities will receive resources, including reader's and teacher's guides and audio guides with commentary from artists, educators, and public figures. Communities will also receive publicity materials. For this cycle, communities will choose from 36 reading selections (books and poems), including two new titles: The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu and When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka.

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Odds and Ends

  • President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ted Mitchell as Under Secretary of Education and Massie Ritsch as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach.

  • Last month, Secretary Duncan discussed the politics and promise of the Common Core standards at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics.

  • On October 31, the Department announced an additional Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant to Chardon Local School District in Ohio to help with ongoing recovery efforts, following the 2012 shooting death of several students and injuries to others.

  • Also on October 31, the Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced an agreement with the State University of New York (SUNY) to ensure each of its 29 state-operated campuses respond promptly and effectively to allegations of sexual harassment, including sexual violence.

  • Teaching Ambassador Fellow Joiselle Cunningham recently sat down with Secretary Duncan to pose questions she and other Fellows heard from teachers during the Back to School bus tour across the American Southwest. The conversation, among other topics, covers teacher evaluation, professional learning, and the effects of the federal government shutdown. Teachers are encouraged to send their questions for the "Ask Arne" series on Twitter using the hashtag #AskArne.

  • Richard Culatta, Director of the Department's Office of Educational Technology, served as a panelist during the Washington Post's "Bridging the Digital Divide" forum.

  • In a new blog post, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans David Johns pinpoints caring adults as "The Ultimate Back-to-School Supply."

  • Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary Hal Plotkin blogged about his experience on the fifth leg of the "Education Built to Last" Best Practices Tour, visiting U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) in the American Northwest (Oregon and Washington).

  • Capping National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, the Department hosted a presentation and discussion about substance abuse and academic achievement and the national drug control strategy elements that focus on preventing such use among youth.

  • Marking the first full week of National Entrepreneurship Month, the Department of Commerce released a new report, "The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University," underscoring the diverse ways in which colleges and universities are promoting cultures of entrepreneurship and encouraging students to start companies.

  • Speak Up 2013 is a national online research project that provides individuals the opportunity to share their thoughts on how to leverage technology in schools to promote learning. Surveys for students, educators, parents, and community members/business partners will be open through December 20.

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Quote to Note

"I reject the idea that rural school districts are too isolated to pioneer innovation and propel powerful partnerships. I reject a narrative that says rural America cannot provide a rich and rigorous curriculum or compete for attention or funding. And I reject the idea that rural America cannot implement transformational reform.... I believe that geographic location should not dictate results.... I believe that traditional formula funding must be supplemented with competitive funding and incentives for change—with appropriate priorities for rural areas, to help ensure a level playing field. And I believe that a balance of formula and competitive funding is necessary to drive innovation, raise the bar, and expand the capacity of rural districts to implement far-reaching reforms."

        Secretary Arne Duncan (10/31/13), speaking at the Rural Education National Forum

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Upcoming Events

Through November 15, the Department is accepting applications for winter-spring 2014 internships.

Nominations for the 2014 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are now open. Anyone—principals, teachers, students, parents, or the public—may nominate exceptional math or science teachers who are currently teaching grades K-6. Teachers may also self-nominate. The President bestows up to 108 awards each year. Since the program's inception, over 4,200 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.

Register today for the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Sneak Peek Friday, a special event for students to experience the festival's exhibits before they open to the general public. Students will have access to more than 2,000 hands-on, interactive activities offered by over 750 leading science organizations from around the country. The no-cost event is April 25, 2014, in Washington D.C.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

Please feel free to contact the Office of Communications and Outreach with any questions:
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!), contact Adam Honeysett. Or, visit http://www2.ed.gov/news/newsletters/edreview/index.html.


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Last Modified: 11/08/2013