Press Room NEWSLETTERS
April 11, 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...
Rethinking High School
Opportunity for All
Travel Log
Funding Opportunities
Family Engagement
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Rethinking High School

On April 7, during his visit to Bladensburg High School in Prince George's County, Maryland, President Obama announced 24 Youth CareerConnect grants, providing $107 million to local partnerships of school districts, institutions of higher education, workforce investment boards, and employers as they redesign the teaching and learning experience for youth to more fully prepare them with the knowledge, skills, and industry-relevant education needed to get on the pathway to a successful career, including postsecondary education or registered apprenticeship. "We challenged America's high schools to... say what they can do to make sure their students learn the skills that businesses are looking for in high-demand fields," the President said. "And we asked high schools to develop partnerships with colleges and employers and create classes that focus on real life applications for the fields of the future—fields like science and technology and engineering and math.... The winners across the board are doing the kinds of things that will allow other schools to start duplicating what they're doing.... And that's what we want for all the young people here. We want an education that engages you... that equips you with the rigorous and relevant skills for college and for a career" (blog post, with remarks and video).

The Youth CareerConnect program was established this year by the Labor Department, in collaboration with the Education Department, using one-time revenues from the H-1B visa program. Grants range from $2.2 million to $7 million. The program wholly complements additional proposals in the President's Fiscal Year 2015 budget to ensure high school students graduate ready for college and career success and to help the U.S., once again, lead the world in college attainment.

Bladensburg High School was part of a three-school team from the county that won a $7 million grant. It offers several career academies with high school curricula aligned with college-level entrance requirements for Maryland's state university system. Through a collaborative effort with local partners, it will expand the capacity of its Health and Biosciences Academy to better prepare more students for one of the region's highest growth industries. Students who concentrate in health professions will be able to earn industry-recognized certifications in the fields of nursing and pharmacy. Biomedical students will be able to earn college credit from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County and the Rochester Institute of Technology. All students will have access to individualized college and career counseling designed to improve preparation for college-level coursework and the attainment of industry-recognized credentials. Students will also have the ability to receive postsecondary credit while still in high school and have access to paid work experiences with employer partners such as Lockheed Martin. Overall, the grant will help prepare 2,500 graduates at Bladensburg and other schools across the county to succeed academically and graduate career-ready in the high-demand fields of health care and information technology.

On the same day, the Departments of Education and Labor launched the Registered Apprenticeship-College Consortium, a new effort that will allow graduates of registered apprenticeship programs to turn their years of rigorous on-the-job and classroom training into college credits toward an associate's or bachelor's degree. Registered apprenticeship programs are sponsored by joint employer and labor groups, individual employers, or employer associations. Currently, the registered apprenticeship system includes a network of more than 19,000 programs nationwide—offering nearly 1,000 different career opportunities. Participating sponsors will have their programs evaluated by a third-party organization (for example, the American Council on Education or the National College Credit Recommendation Service) to determine the college credit value of the apprenticeship completion certificate. Graduates will be able to earn up to 60 credits based on their apprenticeship experience.

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Opportunity for All

Also this week, Secretary Duncan testified on the Administration's continued commitment to education before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. The President's FY 2015 budget requests $69 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department, an increase of 2% over the previous year's funding. The lion's share of the request for P-12 programs—about 90% of discretionary spending—is for formula funding that addresses the needs of disadvantaged minority and low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities. Among other proposals, the President is committed to a significant new investment that supports universal access to high-quality preschool for all four-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families, as well as creates an incentive to serve additional middle-class children. The President has also put forth 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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Travel Log

Secretary Duncan traveled to Hawaii last week (blog post, with photos) to recognize the state's progress in education. The Aloha State is the 50th state he has visited as Secretary since taking office in 2009. Furthermore, he is the first Secretary of Education to travel to Hawaii since Secretary Richard Riley visited in 1994.

Upon arriving, Secretary Duncan participated in a panel discussion with military families at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham, discussing issues facing military-connected students, particularly those related to their high mobility. Next, he visited Ka Waihona o ka Na'auao Public Charter School in Waiane, where he participated in a traditional Hawaiian greeting ceremony, learned how to make poi, and held a roundtable discussion on using culture-based education to address the educational disparities affecting young Native Hawaiians. Then, he joined Governor Neil Abercrombie and Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi to tour Waipahu High School, one of many schools in the state to see improvement through the use of Hawaii's $75 million Race to the Top grant. Students at Waipahu have the opportunity to take courses in creative media, culinary arts, engineering, finance, law and justice administration, and teacher education. The school also offers tuition-free college courses.

Then, this week, the Secretary visited two schools in Delaware to celebrate the four-year anniversary of Race to the Top and delivered remarks at the National Action Network's convention in New York City.

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Funding Opportunities

The Department is currently seeking applications for the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program, the Advanced Placement (AP) Test Fee Program, and the Turnaround School Leaders Program. The school counseling program provides funding to districts to establish or expand school counseling programs, with special consideration given to applicants that can: demonstrate the greatest need for counseling services in the schools to be served; propose most innovative and promising approaches; and show the greatest potential for replication and dissemination. Applications are due April 28. The test fee program awards grants to states to enable them to pay all or a portion of AP test fees on behalf of low-income students. Applications are due May 8. The school leadership program supports projects to develop and implement or enhance and implement a critical leadership pipeline that selects, prepares, places, supports, and retains school leaders for School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools or SIG-eligible schools. Applications are due May 23.

Moreover, for the current fiscal year, the Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) is conducting 13 grant competitions across five program areas: Arts in Education, Charter Schools, Investing in Innovation (i3), Full-Service Community Schools, and Teacher Quality Partnerships. Four of the competitions are already underway. Announcements of the other competitions are slated for later this spring.

Also, be sure to review the Department's FY 2014 Grants Forecast (as of March 31), which lists virtually all programs and competitions under which the agency has invited or expects to invite applications for awards and provides actual or estimated dates for the transmittal of applications under these programs. (Note: This document is advisory only and not an official application notice of the Department of Education.)

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Family Engagement

The Department is proud to release a framework for schools and their broader communities to build parent and community engagement. Across the nation, less than a quarter of residents are 18-years-old or younger, and everyone has a responsibility for helping schools succeed. The Dual Capacity framework—a process used to teach staff to effectively engage parents, and for parents to work successfully with the schools to increase student achievement—provides a model that schools and districts can use to build the type of effective community engagement that will make schools the center of communities (web page, with blog post, Frequently Asked Questions, and video). (Note: On April 8, Secretary Duncan hosted a Twitter chat with parents and educators at the National Family Engagement Conference in Cincinnati.)

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Odds and Ends

  • Public response to "My Brother's Keeper" has been overwhelming (blog post). The task force has begun a 90-day process to develop the plans and infrastructure required to implement and sustain the initiative's efforts. And, the Administration is listening and engaging, working with stakeholders across the country to get feedback on how to work together to make this initiative a success.

  • Secretary Duncan announced that five more states—Alaska, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina—will receive more than $85 million in awards from the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program to continue efforts to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving schools. Also, a new evaluation brief by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) focuses on SIG schools that were in rural areas and how respondents in these schools influenced specific turnaround activities through a distinct rural lens.

  • Teacher Ambassador Fellow Emily Davis recently sat down with the Secretary to discuss student data privacy.

  • An updated practice guide from IES provides instructional suggestions and examples for teaching and supporting English learners in elementary and middle school.

  • "Creative Problem Solving: Students' Skills in Tackling Real Life Problems" is the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) first assessment of problem solving skills and first attempt to measure the creative skills that today's economy demands from its workers. The average score of U.S. 15-year-olds in problem solving was higher than the OECD average (based on 28 OECD countries) and the average scores of 22 education systems. On the other hand, students in 10 education systems (including Singapore, Korea, Japan, several Chinese systems, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, and Finland) had higher average scores in problem solving than U.S. 15-year-olds.

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Quote to Note

"We are saddened by today's stabbings at Franklin Regional High School. Our thoughts go out to the injured students and staff and their families, the other students and teachers at the school, and the Murrysville community at large. Tragedies that strike communities—whether it's an inner city school or a suburban school in a quiet town—impact us all. When we send our children to school each day, we expect them to return home safely. Students and staff at every school deserve to work and learn in a safe environment. We will do everything within our power to assist and support the students, staff, and community of Murrysville in this unsettling time."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (4/9/14), in a statement on the mass stabbings in Pennsylvania

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Upcoming Events

On Earth Day (April 22), the Department will broadcast live on its USTREAM channel the announcement of 2014 U.S. Department of Education-Green Ribbon Schools Award winners, as well as post all nomination packages and release a highlights document. (Note: National Environmental Education Week is April 13-19, and National Park Week is April 19-27.)

The next White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans Summit is April 25-26 in Jackson, Mississippi. Co-sponsored by Ebony magazine, the summit series was conceived to identify ways to improve the academic achievement of African-American students and better prepare them for college and careers. The series brings together leaders in education, business, and other fields for conversations about what is needed to keep students engaged in school and supported in learning and development opportunities, beginning at birth, as well as highlights individuals and organizations that are successfully supporting educational excellence for African-Americans.

On April 29, at 12:00 noon Eastern Time, the Department's Office of Non-Public Education will host a webinar, titled "Starting from Scratch: Developing a State-Level Equitable Services Working Group," featuring the collaborative work occurring in Virginia to establish a state-level working group to address issues related to the participation of private school students and teachers in federal education programs.

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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
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Last Modified: 04/11/2014