Back to School: Bus Tour
Educator Equity Plans
Teacher and Principal Fellows
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
In his September 12 weekly address, President Obama announced the launch of a new College Scorecard, redesigned with input from students, families, and counselors to provide the clearest, most reliable national data on college cost, graduation, debt, and earnings. "The status quo serves some colleges and the companies that rank them just fine," the President noted. "But it doesn't serve our students well, and that doesn't serve any of us well. There are colleges dedicated to helping students of all backgrounds learn, without saddling them with debt. We should hold everybody to that standard. Our economic future depends on it." The scorecard seeks to empower Americans to rate colleges based on what matters most to them; to highlight colleges that are serving students of all backgrounds well; and to focus on making a quality, affordable education within reach (fact sheet, blog post, and select reports of high graduation, low cost, and high salary institutions: 1, 2, 3, and 4).
In addition to the scorecard, the Department launched a data web site on higher education institutions. Because this data is published through an open application programming interface, or API, researchers, policymakers, and the public can customize their own analysis of college performance quickly and easily. Indeed, a number of organizations are already using the data to launch new tools.
A separate blog post, "Under the Hood," details how the U.S. Digital Service worked with stakeholders to rebuild the scorecard.
Back to School: Bus Tour
This week was the Department's sixth annual Back to School bus tour, titled "Ready for Success." Over the last five days, Secretary Duncan and senior Department officials held some 20 events in 13 cities and seven states across the American Midwest. The tour web site has a wealth of stories, pictures, and videos chronicling the tourincluding daily recaps of the Secretary's events on September 14 [Kansas City, Missouri, and Des Moines, Iowa], September 15 [Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Williamsfield, Illinois], September 16 [Champaign, Illinois, and West Lafayette and Indianapolis, Indiana], September 17 [Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio], and September 18 [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania]. Also, throughout the tour, participants have been using social media.
At Woodland Early Learning Community Center in Kansas City, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz joined the Secretary for a visit with students and educators in a Head Start classroom, followed by the release of a policy statement urging early learning programs to include children with disabilities (blog post). (Note: The Department also launched a revamped Early Learning web page.)
At North High School in Des Moines, President Obama joined the Secretary for a town hall with high school students and their parents to discuss college access and affordability. In his remarks, the President announced a new initiative to allow students and families to apply for financial aid earlierstarting in October, as the college application process gets underway, rather than in January. Also, students filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be able to electronically retrieve tax information filed for an earlier year, instead of waiting until tax season to complete applications (fact sheet and blog post).
At Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids, the Secretary dropped by a day-long Teach to Lead event, sitting in on a teacher coaching session and participating in a roundtable discussion with teachers and administrators on how teacher leadership has grown in Iowa (blog post).
In Williamsfield, a village of 650 residents with a single preschool-through-twelfth-grade building serving 300 students, the Secretary heard about the school district's transition from textbooks to openly licensed educational resources. The event also featured the previewing of 50 videos that capture best practices of effective district leaders who use education technology in their schools. And, the Department announced that school technology expert Andrew Marcinek will focus on helping K-12 and higher education connect with teaching, learning, and research resources in the public domain that are freely available to anyone over the web (blog post).
At the University of Illinois, which offers a range of disability resources and educational service programs, the Secretary watched a men's and women's wheelchair basketball team practice and met with students, alumni, faculty, and community partners to learn about how the institution supports college students with disabilities (blog post).
At Purdue University, the Secretary participated in a dialogue with President Mitch Daniels, as part of the institution's Presidential Lecture Series (blog post).
At Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School in Indianapolis, My Brother's Keeper Task Force Chairman Broderick Johnson joined the Secretary for a roundtable discussion with students on overcoming obstacles and celebrating the community's work to design and implement cradle-to-college-and-career action plans (blog post).
In Louisville, after visiting Jeffersontown High School Career Magnet Academy (blog post), the Secretary talked with high school seniors and counselors at the University of Louisville about navigating the college experience (blog post).
At Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, the Secretary joined a roundtable discussion with students on college access and affordability, as well as adult career pathways (blog post).
Finally, at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, NASA Deputy Administration Dava Newman joined the Secretary for a college access rally and town hall highlighting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education (blog post).
The Department's Flickr page offers many photos from the Secretary's events.
Educator Equity Plans
On September 10, the Department announced the approval of 16 states' plans to ensure equitable access to excellent educators. These states are taking promising steps to eliminate the gaps some students face in access to strong teaching by implementing strategies and innovative solutions to challenging problems that meet local context and needs. Each of these states engaged a variety of stakeholder groups to ensure their plans comprise of strategies that will actually be effective.
The strategies that states are implementing include, for example, working to support, strengthen, or modify teacher preparation programs so that all teachers are ready to provide high-quality instruction to their students and prepared for success in high-need schools; investing in school leaders, because great teachers will follow great principalseven into hard-to-staff schools; providing financial incentives designed to reward teachers for exceptional work and encourage great teachers to remain in the highest-need schools; and focusing on predicting, reducing, and eliminating critical shortages in the teaching force so that staffing challenges do not negatively impact student learning.
The plans themselves and the Department's determinations can be found here. The agency is currently reviewing the remaining state plans to determine whether they meet all the requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and will approve them on a rolling basis.
Teacher and Principal Fellows
On September 11, the Secretary revealed nine teachers selected to be Teaching Ambassador Fellows and four principals selected to be Principal Ambassador Fellows for the 2015-16 school year. Three of the teachers will serve as full-time employees at the Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C., while the other six will continue in their classrooms and participate on a part-time basis. Similarly, one of the principals will serve as a full-time Washington Fellow, while the other three will be part-time Classroom Fellows.
These fellowship programs invite outstanding teachers and principals to gain in-depth knowledge of national policy issues in education and contribute their expertise to those discussions. In turn, they share what they have learned with colleagues around the country, facilitating their understanding of federal initiatives and gaining their input into policy and programs designed to improve education at all levels.
This year's cohort of fellows brings the total number of educators who have served in this role to over 100.
This year's National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15) marks the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. In honor of this historic celebration, the Initiative, throughout the month, will spotlight the tremendous progress Hispanics are making in education. To get things started, the Initiative released the "Bright Spots in Hispanic Education" national catalog and the "Latinas in the U.S.: 2015" report. The Bright Spots catalog contains over 230 programs, initiatives, models, and organizations that are investing in and supporting the educational attainment of Hispanicsfrom cradle-to-career. The Latinas report outlines the condition of Hispanic girls and women in the U.S. and their participation in areas such as education, health, labor, housing, and politics.
Odds and Ends
Last week, President Obama announced new steps to expand apprenticeships and to continue to build momentum nationwide to make community college free for responsible students: grants to provide "earn and learn" training opportunities to 34,000 new apprentices; the creation of the College Promise Advisory Board to further efforts to make two years of community college free; and the launch of Heads Up America, an independent campaign to raise awareness about the importance of America's community colleges (fact sheet).
This week, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault announced the release of two resources to assist practitioners in their efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence on college and university campuses: a Resource Guide and "Safe Place: Trauma-Sensitive Practice for Health Centers Serving Students" (blog post).
Pennsylvania has received approval for continued flexibility from provisions of ESEA.
At the iCount: Equity through Representation symposium, the Department announced a series of commitments to encourage data disaggregation: including data disaggregation technical assistance in the performance work plan for the upcoming Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) competition; producing a National Forum on Education Statistics report on best practices for the disaggregation of race/ethnicity categories below the required seven reporting categories; and dedicating an Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community liaison.
Quote to Note
"We've been investing in things that help to grow the middle class and help provide opportunity for every young person. But nobody in a 21st century economy is going to be able to do what they want to do with their lives unless they've got a great education. That's just the truth. By 2020, two in three job openings are going to require some form of post-high school educationwhether it's a four-year university or a community college or a technical school. And it's an investment that pays off. Now, partly it pays off... because it empowers you. It gives you a sense of who you are, and your hopes and your dreams. It helps to sharpen how you see the world and empowers you in all sorts of ways. But it also has some pretty practical ramifications. Compared to a high school diploma, a degree from a two-year school could earn you an extra $10,000 a year. A four-year degree could earn you a million dollars more over the course of your lifetime. That's how important education is in today's economy."
|||President Barack Obama (9/14/15), in remarks during a town hall on college access and affordability|
Next Friday, September 25, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, the Department will open an exhibit of 2015 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards winnerscomprising 60 2- and 3-D works by middle through high school students from across the nationwith a special exhibit of Fort Wayne, Indiana, winners. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will feature remarks by the agency's Director of Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs Monique Chism, Executive Director of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities Rachel Goslins, and Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers Virginia McEnerney. To RSVP to attend or learn more about the Department's year-round exhibit program, please contact Jacquelyn.Zimmermann@ed.gov.
Through October 1, the Department is accepting applications for winter-spring 2015 internships.
October is Connected Educator Month, and the initial calendar lists dozens of events. Educators at all levels, as well as those who support them, are welcome to sign-up for regular updates on interactive webinars and other events, forums, showcases, and contests. They are also urged to develop, host, and run their own activities, publish content, and generally promote the month.
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