Press Room NEWSLETTERS
March 28, 2014

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...
Civil Rights Data
Race To The Top Reports
Teach To Lead
Warped Incentives
Childhood Screenings
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Civil Rights Data

On March 21, at J. O. Wilson Elementary School in Washington, D.C., Secretary Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder announced the 2011-12 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). This is the first time since 2000 that the Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has compiled data from all 97,000 of the nation's public schools and its 16,500 school districts—representing 49 million students. State-, district-, and school-level information is accessible to the public, in a searchable online database at ocrdata.ed.gov.

"This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain. In all, it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities to succeed," the Secretary said (remarks). "As the President's education budget reflects in every element—from preschool funds to Pell Grants to Title I to special education—this Administration is committed to ensuring equity of opportunity for all."

"This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students but actually begin during preschool," the Attorney General said (remarks). "Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed. This Administration is moving aggressively to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in order to ensure that all of our young people have equal educational opportunities."

The federal government has collected civil rights data about schools since 1968, but the Obama Administration revamped the CRDC to include substantial additional information on the provision of educational opportunities, including data on preschool access and school discipline practices. The CRDC provides critical data on opportunity gaps, as well as information that informs and provides a starting point for the enforcement of federal civil rights laws. The collection also informs policy and regulatory work, such as the guidance package on creating effective school discipline practices and positive school climates, which especially highlights best practices for reducing the overuse of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions.

Among the key findings:

  • Access to preschool. About 40% of districts do not offer preschool, and, where it is available, it is mostly part-day. Of the districts that operate public preschool programs, barely half are available to all students within the district.
  • Suspension of preschool children. African-American students represent 18% of preschool enrollment but 42% of preschool students suspended once and 48% of preschool students suspended more than once.
  • Access to advanced courses. 81% of Asian-American students and 71% of white students attend high schools where the full range of math and science courses (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics) are offered. However, less than half of American Indian and Native Alaskan students in high school have access to the full range of math and science courses. Black students (57%), Hispanic students (67%), English learners (65%), and students with disabilities (63%) also have less access to the full range of courses.
  • Access to college counselors. Nationwide, one in five high schools lacks a school counselor.
  • Retention of high school students. 12% of black students are retained in ninth-grade, about double the rate that all students are retained. Also, English learners and students with disabilities represent 5% and 12% of high school enrollment, respectively, but 11% and 19% of students retained a year, respectively.

Want to dig deeper? Among the resources online are a press release, a blog post, and data snapshots on discipline/restraint and seclusion, early learning, college and career readiness, and teacher equity. Furthermore, the President has proposed a new initiative, Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity, which would create incentives for states and districts to drive comprehensive change in identifying and closing opportunity and achievement gaps.

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Race To The Top Reports

Last week, the Department released Race to the Top Year 3 progress reports for the 11 states (Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Tennessee) and the District of Columbia that received grants in the first two phases of the program. These reports capture the accomplishments and challenges that the states saw over the course of the 2012-13 school year. "Over the last few years, we have seen Race to the Top states build upon the systems and framework that they have been developing to lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable progress," Secretary Duncan outlined. "In the third year of the program, states were able to shift to developing more tools, resources, and supports for school districts and educators to strengthen their skills and build their capacity to tackle some of the toughest work in education. We know this work isn't easy, but what has been most encouraging is that state and district leaders have had the courage to put these plans into action, and teachers and principals have shown up day after day with the same goal that we all share: making sure every single student is prepared to be successful in college and in their careers." It is important to note that the reports demonstrate a snapshot in time—the progress that each state made during that year. It is also key to clarify that states cannot be compared to each other with these reports. The reports mark the progress that each state has made against the plan it set forth, and states are only compared to the benchmarks they have committed to in their plans.

In addition to the state reports, the Department also posted Annual Performance Report (APR) data from states that received Race to the Top funding in phases 1, 2, and 3.

This week, the White House and the Department released a new report, "Setting the Pace," spotlighting examples of the most innovative and effective reforms that are taking place in states across the country under Race to the Top. With an initial budget of about $4 billion, Race to the Top unleashed a flurry of pent-up education reform activity at the state and local level, and these efforts have created partnerships among parents, educators, and state and community leaders to continue this progress in the months and years ahead. A corresponding blog post summarizes five ways Race to the Top is supporting students and teachers, from providing more students with access to challenging classes to helping educators transition to new standards.

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Teach To Lead

At the recent National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Teaching and Learning Conference, the Secretary announced that, over the next year, he and NBPTS President Ron Thorpe will co-convene a new initiative, Teach to Lead, to foster ambitious commitments on authentic opportunities for teachers to take up leadership roles without leaving the classroom. The goal is to ensure that when important decisions are being made about the work teachers do, they are there to help set the direction for their classrooms, schools, the profession, and, ultimately, make sure students have the best opportunities to learn. Teach to Lead will entail a series of gatherings engaging teachers, principals, district leaders, Chief State School Officers, and teacher groups. Participants will commit to acting on the steps necessary to create more opportunities for teacher leadership in the field. The Secretary and Thorpe will report back on the commitments and activities from this diverse group at next year's NBPTS meeting. "I've heard from many teachers who are tired of the heartbreaking choice between serving their students and serving their profession," the Secretary stated (remarks). "I want a school where talent, experience, and innovation mean opportunities to lead from the classroom. I'll borrow a phrase from Orchard Gardens K-8 School teacher Andrew Vega: teacher leadership must be a force for changing education—not a result of it." (Note: If you are interested in helping to drive this work, please complete this online survey.)

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Warped Incentives

On March 23, with college basketball's March Madness underway, the Secretary was on "Meet the Press," joining NCAA President Mark Emmert and White House aide Reggie Love to discuss student athletes and the need to realign incentives in college sports for adults, including coaches (video). "If you want to help young people long term, the most important thing you can do is help them get that degree," he said. "So, these incentive structures for coaches, incentive structures for ADs have to be changed so much more of their compensation is based not upon wins and losses, but around academic performance and graduation." (Note: The Secretary's comments mirrored his April 2013 open letter on fixing sports program incentives.)

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Childhood Screenings

Yesterday (March 27), the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services launched Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive!, a collaborative effort among federal partners to encourage developmental and behavioral screening for children and support for the families and providers who care for them. By raising awareness of child development, the initiative will help families look for and celebrate milestones, promote universal screenings, identify delays as early as possible, and enhance support needed to help children succeed in school and thrive alongside their peers. This initiative brings the early childhood world—practitioners in early care and education, primary health care, early intervention, child welfare, and mental health—together with families to encourage early screening for children. These preliminary screenings check for developmental progress or delays. If a screening result shows risk, families and providers may pursue more in-depth evaluations regarding developmental issues, such as language or motor delays or developmental disabilities like autism or cerebral palsy.

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Odds and Ends

  • A reminder: the Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) has invited applications—up to $3 million each—under the "Development" category of the 2014 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition. This category funds grantees with promising but relatively untested ideas. The deadline for applications is April 14. (Note: On April 1, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the i3 team will conduct a live question-and-answer session.)

  • A new post on the Homeroom blog offers tips parents might consider when talking with their child about tests.

  • The Department's Progress blog spotlights state and local innovative ideas, promising practices, lessons learned, and resources informed by the implementation of K-12 education reforms. Currently, one can read about New York City schools using technology to increase the degree of alignment between classroom needs and innovative solutions; a Maryland program helping teachers learning to integrate lessons in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) into their classrooms; and a Delaware program preparing educators with more hands-on experiences and coaching. Ideas for content may be sent to progress@ed.gov.

  • This week, Secretary Duncan is with education ministers, education organizations, union leaders, and teachers from countries and regions with high-performing or rapidly improving education systems for the 2014 International Summit on the Teaching Profession in Wellington, New Zealand. This year's theme is "Excellence, Equity, and Inclusiveness." Video is available on a YouTube page.

  • Earlier this month, the White House Council on Women and Girls published the Secretary's blog post for National Women's History Month: "Expanding Opportunity for Women."

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Quote to Note

"The numbers being reported today are not projections. They are not estimates of educational opportunities in our nation's public schools. They present the first, detailed nationwide picture of the opportunity gap in America's schools.... The new CRDC survey is really without precedent in the rich detail it provides on educational opportunity.... To sum up, the CRDC paints a stark portrait of inequity in opportunity in America that is educationally unsound, morally bankrupt, and economically self-destructive to our nation's best interest—this must compel us to act."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (3/21/14), in remarks announcing the 2011-12 Civil Rights Data Collection

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Upcoming Events

April is Financial Literacy Month, making it a great time to visit MyMoney.gov, the U.S. government's web site dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education.

On April 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET, Education Week will recognize (live stream) a second cohort of "Leaders to Learn From." This year's cohort will include 16 district-level leaders. From 14 states, these leaders serve communities big and small, from rural Alaska to New York City.

On April 4, at 11:30 a.m. ET, the Department's Student Art Exhibit Program will host its annual free live jazz informance. The event, featuring guest Terrell Stafford—trumpeter, composer, recording artist, and director of jazz studies and chairman of instrumental studies at Temple University—will demonstrate the values of jazz as they reflect the values of the U.S. Under the direction of Dr. J. B. Dyas, vice president for education and curriculum development at the Theolonious Monk Institute of Jazz, a student jazz quartet from Arts High School in Newark will play various styles of jazz and discuss with the audience about what jazz is, why it is important, and how a jazz ensemble represents a perfect democracy. They will also provide key insight into teamwork, unity with ethnic diversity, and the correlation of hard work and goal accomplishment. To RSVP to attend or learn more about the Department's year-round exhibit program, please contact Nicole.Carinci@ed.gov.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 03/28/2014