Press Room NEWSLETTERS
April 17, 2015

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...
ESEA Update
Preschool in America
Ed Tech Developer's Guide
America's College Promise
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

ESEA Update

On April 9, with civil rights leaders, educators, and students, Secretary Duncan commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. In a speech, followed by a question-and-answer session, the Secretary discussed America's education progress over the past half-century and the work still ahead—including the need for Congress to reauthorize a strong, bipartisan ESEA. "ESEA marked an extraordinary step for education and for civil rights. The fight for educational opportunity and the fight for civil rights always have been and always will be inextricably linked," he said. "ESEA has built a foundation under our nation's schools—helping to raise the bar for every child and to ensure that the resources are there for those most in need.... [But] our work will not be done until we ensure that opportunity is not just a possibility but a promise. As any teacher or principal will tell you, ESEA—now known as No Child Left Behind—is long overdue for repairs. It is broken, and it is wildly out of date. We need a new law that does a lot more to support innovation and creativity by educators and communities—and a lot less to stifle that creativity. A new law must stay true to the vision that opportunity isn't somewhat optional; it's a right for every child in this country. We can't afford to leave any of our talent on the sidelines."

A day later, in a blog post titled "A Bipartisan Proposal to Fix No Child Left Behind: A Good First Step; Further to Go," the Secretary responded to an agreement by Senate education committee leaders to begin to fix ESEA. "I am happy to see this bipartisan effort come together, yet I also know the distance we have to go toward a bill that establishes an expectation of excellence for all American children and stays true to ESEA's role as a guarantor of civil rights," he asserted. Among the proposal's positive steps: requiring college- and career-ready standards; strengthening support for educators; and promoting transparency on resource inequities. Among the Secretary's ongoing concerns: no new funding for early learning; a lack of accountability and support for action in persistently under-performing schools; and limited assistance for state and local innovation. (See the "Quote to Note" for the latest developments.)

Need a primer on ESEA? A blog post titled "What is ESEA?" details the legislation's history, including its purpose, its current version, and ESEA flexibility. Additional information on ESEA is available here.

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Preschool in America

Last week, the Department released a new report detailing the unmet need across the nation for high-quality preschool programs. According to this study, "A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America," of the approximately four million four-year-olds in the U.S., about 2.5 million—or 60%—are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs, including state preschool programs, Head Start, and programs serving children with disabilities. Even fewer are enrolled in the highest-quality programs (blog post with graphics).

The report highlights the need for an ESEA reauthorization that expands access to high-quality early learning opportunities and makes the law preschool-through-twelfth-grade, rather than kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade.

The Obama Administration has made significant investments in early learning under the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge and the Preschool Development Grants programs. These grants lay the groundwork for states to be prepared for the President's Preschool for All program. The Administration has asked for an increase of $500 million for Preschool Development Grants in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget, to expand this opportunity to more states, the Bureau of Indian Education and tribal education agencies, territories, and the outlying areas.

Over the last few years, a coalition of education, business, law enforcement, military, child advocacy, and faith-based leaders have joined together to support the expansion of high-quality preschool programs.

A new Institute of Medicine and National Research Council report has 13 recommendations for transforming the birth-through-age eight workforce based on science of child development and early learning. Chief among the recommendations is that all lead educators have a bachelor's degree with knowledge and competencies in early learning. The report also recommends major improvements to higher education and greater coordination and support to strengthen the "fragmented " early learning workforce (blog post).

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Ed Tech Developer's Guide

Also last week, at the Arizona State University+Global Silicon Valley Summit in Arizona, the Department announced a first-ever guide for education technology developers. This free guide addresses key questions about the education ecosystem and spotlights critical needs and opportunities to develop digital tools and applications for learning. Written with input from educators, developers, and researchers who were willing to share what they have learned, the guide is designed to help developers apply technology in smart ways to solve persistent problems in education (blog post with video).

The guide identifies 10 specific areas where developers can focus their efforts for greatest impact. These opportunities represent some of the most urgent needs expressed by educators, parents, and students nationwide. These stakeholders are requesting educational apps that improve mastery of academic skills, foster and measure non-cognitive skills, improve assessment experiences, engage families, support college and career planning, provide meaningful professional development for educators, improve teacher productivity, increase access for all students, and close achievement gaps.

The guide also discusses some common pitfalls to avoid. For example, the value of technology for transforming learning is lost if it is only used to digitize traditional materials. Instead, developers are encouraged to think about innovative approaches that allow students to engage differently.

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America's College Promise

In the most recent White House weekly address, Vice President Biden laid out the President's plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students (fact sheet). Access to higher education has a tangible impact on a student's success. Those with an associate's degree earn 25% more than those with only a high school diploma, while those with a four-year degree make 70% more.

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Workforce Innovation and Opportunity

The Departments of Education and Labor are seeking comment on five Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs), proposing rules to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The act, signed by President Obama on July 22, 2014, is the first major reform to federal job training programs in more than 15 years. It is designed to streamline and improve the coordination of employment and training services across federal agencies and strengthen collaboration with state and local partners to increase access to and opportunities for employment, education, training, and support services.

The NPRMs include: a joint rule proposing to implement shared activities related to unified planning, performance accountability, and the one-stop system; a rule proposing to implement Labor-specific activities under Title I; and rules proposing to implement Education-specific activities under Titles II and IV.

Visit Regulations.gov to share comments on the proposed rules. Any comments not received through the process outlined in the NPRMs will not be considered by the agencies. There will be a webinar on how to provide comments on the NPRMs the week of April 27.

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Odds and Ends

  • On May 1, First Lady Michelle Obama is encouraging everyone to wear college gear to support National College Signing Day.

  • To prepare institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders interested in applying for a First in the World grant, the Department hosted an informational webinar covering the overall goals and the general application requirements of the grant competition.

  • Native Youth Community Projects is a demonstration program, to begin accepting applications at the end of the month, that will offer funding to a select number of Native communities to support culturally relevant coordinated strategies with the goal to improve the college- and career-readiness of Native children and youth.

  • At this year's International Summit on the Teaching Profession, the U.S. delegation committed to: convene a summit in the U.S. to highlight teacher leadership and expand leadership opportunities; continue to work to increase the number of children with access to high-quality early learning and encourage teacher leadership in this regard; and work to increase access for learners of all ages to high-quality career and technical education and encourage teacher leadership in this regard (blog post).

  • Secretary Duncan hosted a Student Voices session with college students to listen to their concerns and learn about the promising actions their institutions are taking to address and prevent sexual assault on campus.

  • For educators who want to improve their students' algebra knowledge, a new What Works Clearinghouse practice guide provides three recommendations for teaching algebra to students in middle and high school, including implementation steps and solutions for common roadblocks.

  • The Department's Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has created a new, monthly bulletin called "Education Matters," in which it will share key information and issues.

  • The Task Force on New Americans has submitted to President Obama a report outlining a robust federal immigrant and refugee integration strategy that will advance global competitiveness and identify ways to ensure the nation's diverse people are fully contributing to their communities and welcomed into them. Further, the task force has revitalized the New Americans Project to encourage volunteerism among all Americans. The project's web site has a zip code-based search engine of organizations in need of volunteers.

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Quote to Note

"I applaud the leadership of Chairman [Lamar] Alexander, Senator [Patty[ Murray and the members of the [Senate] HELP Committee on the important steps taken this week to advance a bipartisan proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It is long past time to replace No Child Left Behind with a law that ensures continued progress and opportunity for America's children. The bill now honors the widespread bipartisan call to expand access to high quality preschool. The bill also makes a critical investment in innovation and scaling what works. However, to live up to ESEA's legacy of advancing equity and providing opportunity for every child, we join with numerous civil rights and business groups in urging that further significant improvements be made to the bill to create the law that America's children deserve.... I am encouraged that, this week, members of the HELP Committee recognized the need to strengthen the bill's accountability measures as this legislation advances in the Senate. I look forward to continuing to work with Congress on that effort."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (4/16/15), in a statement on the Senate HELP Committee's mark-up of an ESEA reauthorization bill

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Upcoming Events

Today, April 17, the White House will host local leaders at the first-ever White House Tech Meetup.

On Earth Day (April 22), the Secretary will announce via video 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awards, and first-ever Postsecondary Sustainability Awards, as well as post all award applications and release a highlights document. (Note: National Environmental Education Week is April 19-25, and National Park Week is April 18-26.)

On April 29, starting at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) will hold a webinar to discuss results from the 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in eighth-grade U.S. history, geography, and civics.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 04/21/2015