Press Room NEWSLETTERS
July 18, 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...
Educator Equity
Financial Literacy
Civil Rights Anniversary
President's Education Awards
Discretionary Grant Priorities
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Educator Equity

On July 7, in a series of events, Secretary Duncan announced the launch of the Excellent Educators for All initiative to help states and school districts support great educators for the students who need them most. "All children are entitled to a high-quality education—regardless of their race, family income, or zip code," he said. "It is critically important that we provide teachers and principals the support they need to help students reach their full potential. Yet, despite the excellent work and deep commitment of our nation's teachers and principals, systemic inequities exist that shortchange students in high-minority, high-poverty schools across our country. We have to do better. Local leaders and educators will develop their own innovative solutions, but we must work together to enhance and invigorate our focus on how to better recruit, support, and retain effective teachers and principals for all students."

Research indicates that students' race and family income often predict their access to excellent educators. In Louisiana, the percentage of teachers rated highly effective is 50% higher in low-minority, low-poverty schools than in high-minority, high-poverty schools. Similarly, in Tennessee, the percentage of teachers rated highly effective is 33% higher in low-minority, low-poverty schools than in high-minority, high-poverty schools. Nationwide, according to the Department's Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), African-American and American Indian students are four times as likely as white students to be enrolled in a school with more than 20% first-year teachers. Hispanic students are three times as likely.

The three-part initiative includes:

  • Comprehensive Educator Equity Plans. The Department is asking states to analyze their data and consult with teachers, principals, districts, parents, and community organizations to create new, comprehensive plans by April 2015 that put in place locally developed solutions to ensure every student has effective educators (see letter to Chief State School Officers). These plans are required by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and states first created plans in 2006.
  • Educator Equity Support Network. The Department is investing $4.2 million a technical assistance network to support states and districts in developing and implementing their plans. The network will work to develop model plans, share promising practices, provide communities of practice for educators to discuss challenges and share lessons learned, and create a network of support for educators serving in high-need schools.
  • Educator Equity Profiles. The Department will publish profiles this fall that will help states identify gaps in access to quality teaching for minority and low-income students, as well as shine a spotlight on places where high-need schools are successfully recruiting and retaining effective teachers. Moreover, states will receive their complete CRDC data file, enabling them to conduct detailed analyses to inform discussions about local inequities and design strategies for improvement.

Signaling the initiative's importance, the Secretary began the day in the White House press briefing room. Next, he joined the President for lunch with a group of teachers. Then, he joined American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President and CEO Wade Henderson, and Council of Chief State School Officers Executive Director Chris Minnich for a roundtable discussion with teachers and principals.

The Department's commitment to equity in education underlines all of its activities, from the My Brother's Keeper initiative, ESEA flexibility, andSchool Improvement Grants to the Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity proposal.

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Financial Literacy

Also last week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released results from the first administration of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) financial literacy assessment. The Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) summarized the performance of U.S. 15-year-old students in a Data Point report and data tables. The test was conducted in 18 of the 65 education systems that participated in the 2012 main PISA and measured students' knowledge and understanding of fundamental elements of the financial world, including financial concepts, products, and risks. Among the findings: the U.S. average score was 492, not measurably different from the average of all participating countries (500) but lower than the average in seven systems; 9% of U.S. students scored at the top level (Level 5), not measurably different from all countries (10%) but lower than four systems; and 18% of U.S. students scored below Level 2, not measurably different from all countries (15%) but higher than seven systems. (Note: Acting NCES Commissioner John Easton also issued a statement.)

At an event hosted by George Washington University, Secretary Duncan called the PISA results "sobering," underscoring the need to redouble our efforts to teach financial literacy to American students.

Likewise, in an earlier interview at the Investment Innovation and the Global Future of Retirement conference, the Secretary emphasized financial literacy needs to be a staple of the American education system.

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Civil Rights Anniversary

This week, the Secretary joined Attorney General Eric Holder and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to give remarks commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at an event hosted by Howard University. He discussed how the struggle for civil rights has evolved and expanded during the half century since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act and the urgent need for programs to help close unacceptable achievement and opportunity gaps that persist. WHUT will air a special production of the event on July 20 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, July 24 at 8:00 p.m. ET, and July 25 at 12:00 a.m. ET.

Meanwhile, student leaders who joined with original Freedom Riders for a symbolic and celebratory ride (photos) from Washington, D.C., to Richmond on July 2 reflected on their experiences.

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President's Education Awards

The Department recently announced 2014 President's Education Awards Program (PEAP) recipients (map), honoring nearly three million students from over 31,000 schools across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense schools. Each year, K-12 students are eligible to receive individual recognition from the President and Secretary for 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 determines 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. (Note: In a new blog post, PEAP Director Frances Hopkins recaps her visit to a local elementary school to congratulate recipients.)

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Discretionary Grant Priorities

To support a comprehensive agenda, the Secretary has proposed 15 priorities and related definitions for use in discretionary grant programs. These proposed priorities and definitions are intended to replace the current supplemental priorities for discretionary grant programs that were published back in 2010. They reflect the lessons learned from implementing discretionary grant programs, as well as the agency's current policy objectives and emerging needs in education. Before the list is official, the public may provide input on the language and make suggestions. The deadline for comments is July 24.

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Odds and Ends

  • The "Let's Read! Let's Move!" summer enrichment series kicked-off at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian on July 9 (video) and convened at the U.S. Supreme Court (photos) on July 16. Additional sessions are scheduled for July 23 and July 30 in locations throughout Washington, D.C. The series supports First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative, while also encouraging strong early learning programs.

  • On July 10, Secretary Duncan delivered remarks at the National Academy Foundation's (NAF) conference, at which 10 of the country's top companies pledged special consideration to job applicants who, as high school graduates, earned a NAF credential.

  • In a joint blog post, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary Duncan specifically highlight the Community Eligibility Provision(CEP) of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, by which schools can agree to offer free breakfast and lunch for all students and cover any costs that exceed federal reimbursements. CEP is available to schools across the nation for the 2014-15 school year. Schools have until August 31 to enroll.

  • The Department's Office of Educational Technology has issued an Online Professional Learning Checklist, consisting of a research-based set of questions to help educators evaluate the quality of online professional development opportunities.

  • New from NCES: initial findings about the employment outcomes of bachelor's degree recipients roughly four years after they completed their degrees and data on postsecondary tuition, fees, and degrees.

  • The Department is developing social media tip sheets to help states and school districts expand online engagement. The third tip sheet outlines key lessons learned related to successful social media policies. The fourth tip sheet offers information about tracking social media reach and engagement.

  • The Teaching and Learning International Survey provides internationally comparable indicators on teaching to help nations review current conditions and pursue informed education policy (blog post).

  • As part of his Year of Action, President Obama has taken a series of executive actions to ensure that students receive a high-quality education preparing them for success in college and careers (blog post).

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Quote to Note

"Today's action by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update the E-Rate program is an important milestone on the path toward realizing President Obama's ConnectED initiative. Because of this vote, an additional $2 billion will be made available to provide 20 million more students with high-speed Wi-Fi in their classrooms and libraries over the next two years. We commend the FCC on this key vote and for its continued commitment to increasing vital school and library Internet connectivity, which we believe will help more students get a great education, train them for the jobs of the future, and continue to build a more competitive U.S. economy."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (7/11/14), in a statement on the FCC's vote to modernize the E-Rate Program (fact sheet)

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Upcoming Events

On July 22, at 2:00 p.m. ET, Secretary Duncan, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Mike Boots, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Conversation and Sustainability Mark Schaefer will honor 2014 U.S. Department of Education-Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees. The event will be broadcast live on the Department's USTREAM channel.

The Association of Art Museum Directors will open its student art exhibit, titled "Museums: pARTners in Learning," at the Department on July 23 at 11:00 a.m. ET. This exhibit features works by students in art programs organized by 16 college- and university-based art museums, underscoring the breadth and depth of art museum education today. The opening will also feature student poetry and dance. To RSVP to attend or learn more about the Department's year-round exhibit program, please contact Nicole.Carinci@ed.gov.

In a special webinar on July 25, at 11:00 a.m. ET, the National Assessment Governing Board will explore findings from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) fourth-grade Writing Computer-Based Assessment Study.

The 2014 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit is scheduled for August 15 at the Department. This year's theme is "Keeping Kids Safe: Opportunities and Challenges in Bullying Prevention." Registration is closed, but the event will be presented as a live streaming webcast.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

Please feel free to contact the Office of Communications and Outreach with any questions:
Deputy Assistant Secretary, State and Local Public Engagement—Joe Walsh, (202) 401-0026, Joseph.Walsh@ed.gov
Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 08/01/2014