Press Room NEWSLETTERS
March 18, 2016

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...
Senate Confirmation
Spotlight on CTE
College Opportunity Tour
ESSA Update
Future of Early Learning
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Senate Confirmation

On March 14, the U.S. Senate confirmed John King as Secretary of Education. The full Senate vote came after the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee voted in favor of his confirmation. King has been serving as Acting Secretary of Education since January, after former Secretary Arne Duncan stepped down at the end of last year.

In response to the confirmation, President Obama issued the following statement:

"I applaud the Senate for confirming John King as Secretary of Education. In this role, John will continue to lead our efforts to work toward high-quality preschool for all, prepare our kids for college and a career, make college more affordable, and protect Americans from the burdens of student debt. John knows how education can transform a child's future. He's seen it in his own life. And, his experience, counsel, and leadership couldn't be more valuable to me and to our country as we work to open the doors of opportunity to all of America's children."

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Spotlight on CTE

Last week, at the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center in Baltimore, Secretary King called on Congress to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides some $1.1 billion for career and technical education (CTE) programs in seventh- through twelfth-grade and postsecondary institutions (remarks and blog post).

The Administration's priorities for Perkins reauthorization include:

  • effective alignment with today's labor market, including clear expectations for high-quality programs;
  • stronger collaboration among secondary and postsecondary institutions, employers, and industry partners;
  • meaningful accountability to improve academic and employment outcomes for students; and
  • local and state innovation in CTE, particularly the development and replication of innovative models (blueprint).

The Secretary also launched the Career Technical Education Makeover Challenge, a Department-sponsored competition offering a total of $200,000 divided equally among as many as 10 award recipients to transform classrooms or available spaces in high schools into places where students have access to tools to design, build, and innovate.

Specifically, the CTE Makeover Challenge calls upon secondary schools to design models of "makerspaces"—formalized spaces for making things. These facilities may be classrooms, libraries, and mobile spaces, all of which will provide resources for students to create and learn through making. Such locations are ideal spaces for students to gain essential 21st century career skills, such as critical thinking, planning, and communication.

Additionally, the Secretary announced the White House, federal agencies, and the broader community will celebrate a National Week of Making (June 17-23), coinciding with the National Maker Faire (June 18-19) in Washington, D.C.

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College Opportunity Tour

This week, Secretary King kicked-off his "College Opportunity Across America" tour, visiting with students, professors, and college leaders in Atlanta and Huntsville, Alabama. Throughout the tour, spanning three states and Washington, D.C., he will learn about innovative strategies that increase access, affordability, and positive outcomes for all students—no matter their zip code. He will also emphasize the Department's focus on the most important outcome: completing a quality degree at a reasonable cost.

At Georgia State University, he toured the counseling center and participated in a roundtable discussion. From peer advising, to micro-grants that help low-income students afford to continue their education, to analytics that assist advisers in identifying students at risk of dropping out, the university has pioneered promising practices in improving students' odds of completing college. Over the last decade, GSU has increased its completion rate by 22 points (see Fact Sheet: College Completion Drives Student Success).

At Alabama A&M University, he participated in a town hall discussion on the impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in meeting the nation's science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) needs. He was joined by Todd May, the Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Marshall Space Flight Center, and Dr. Sheila Nash-Stevenson, a Program Integration Engineer in the Marshall Center's Planetary Missions Program Office, who received the first master's degree awarded by the university's physics program in 1994 and, later, became the first African-American woman in Alabama—and one of only about 20 African-American women nationwide—to earn a doctorate in physics. A&M students intern at the Marshall Center and participate in experiential learning initiatives (see Fact Sheet: Spurring African-American STEM Degree Completion).

Meanwhile, to help students, parents, and their advisers make more informed choices among institutions, the Department released its first interim update for the College Scorecard, removing the schools that recently closed and revising the schools facing federal or financial compliance issues (better known as Heightened Cash Monitoring). And, the agency released its Quarterly Student Aid Report, a collection of key performance data on the federal student loan portfolio, revealing continued increases in income-driven repayment enrollment with notable decreases in defaults and delinquencies. The report is part of the FSA Data Center, launched in 2009 to increase government transparency by making available information useful to the public.

Also, the Department released a proposal that would establish borrower-friendly processes for seeking and obtaining loan relief triggered by unscrupulous conduct by institutions and provided options to negotiators drafting proposed regulations for Title IV programs that would protect students from the use of mandatory arbitration provisions in enrollment agreements (press release).

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ESSA Update

Next week, a committee will convene to draft proposed regulations in two areas of Title I, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): student assessments and supplement not supplant requirements. Selected negotiators and their alternates represent the constituencies that are significantly affected by the areas proposed for negotiation, including state and local education administrators and board members, tribal leadership, parents and students, teachers, principals, other school leaders, and the civil rights and business communities. They represent all geographic regions, as well as contribute to the diversity and expertise of the committee, and have received background materials to help prepare for their discussions, including issue papers on key topics identified by the agency in the notice announcing the formation of the committee. The committee will meet March 21-23 and April 6-8, with an optional session April 18-19. The meetings are open to the public.

Moreover, the Department released ESSA transition Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Also, in a blog post, the agency's Teaching and Principal Ambassador Fellows recap listening sessions with educators and other stakeholders to inform ESSA implementation.

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Future of Early Learning

Secretary King and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning Libby Doggett participated in the first-ever SXSWedu Early Learning Summit. This event convened professionals, practitioners, and policymakers interested in cross-sector change to positively benefit young children and their families. Among the key topics of discussion: communities and systems, play and the young child, and entrepreneurship and early learning.

Beyond the summit, there were a dozen other early learning events on this year's SXSWedu schedule.

Also, building on the President's early learning and "Educate to Innovate" agendas, the White House, with the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, seeks to advance a focus on STEM experiences in a child's earliest years by identifying research gaps, best practices, and technologies to support young children, parents and caregivers, educators, and communities. This spring, the Administration and Invest in US will hold an event at the White House on this important work and highlight external commitments along with federal resources and materials. Stakeholders are encouraged to share new, specific, and measurable steps they are taking to support early STEM in their communities and on a national level by March 23.

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Odds and Ends

  • In a post on Medium, Secretary King—as a former social studies teacher—outlines what he hopes students and policymakers will see in the Broadway musical Hamilton. "As educators, we know that the arts can draw students in and inspire them to find themselves and their authentic voices," he said. "And, while not every student will have the chance to see the President's Cabinet perform a rap battle (as is the case during Hamilton but which, from what I can tell, has not happened during this Administration), if we do our part, we can help all students realize their potential." (Note: The President and First Lady hosted the cast of Hamilton and local students for a day-long celebration of arts in America.)

  • The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) will include six more urban school districts after a vote by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) to expand the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) program. TUDA is a special part of the NAEP program that provides results of fourth- and eighth-grade student performance in reading and math in the nation's largest urban districts. The vote brings the total number of TUDA districts to 27.

  • According to the latest Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), U.S. adults score about the same as their international peers in literacy, but more U.S. adults score in the highest and lowest proficiency levels than is the case in other countries. The PIAAC presents results on the skills of U.S. adults compared to other countries, based on data collected in 2012 and 2014. It also takes a deeper look at the skill levels of three demographic groups: the unemployed, young adults, and older adults.

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Quote to Note

"Today's CTE is about the future you can't prepare for with just a textbook. It's about learning how to build your own business, from an idea to a prototype and beyond. It's about creating new tools to solve everyday problems. It's about applying practical skills to tackle major challenges, like global warming or public health crises. One thing is clear: it's not your grandfather's 'shop class.' Last year, Congress acted to give us a comprehensive education law with the ESSA. Now we need a new law for a new era in CTE. It's time for Congress to reauthorize the Perkins Act so that every student in every community has access to rigorous, relevant, and results-driven CTE programs. It's been a bipartisan priority, and I am confident we can accomplish it in a bipartisan spirit."

        Secretary of Education John King (3/9/16), in remarks at the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center in Baltimore

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Upcoming Events

On March 30, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) will hold its #AskFAFSA Office Hours on Twitter, giving students and parents the opportunity to ask FSA experts questions related to federal financial aid.

The Department is committed to meaningful consultations with Indian tribes on policy decisions that have direct tribal implications. In January, a series of online webinars covered priorities for grants under the Native American and Alaska Native Children in Schools Program and the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program. The next consultations will be in Sisseton, North Dakota (April 15); Lake Buena Vista, Florida (April 24); Tulsa, Oklahoma (May 12); and Spokane, Washington (June 26).

On April 26, communities are urged to recognize local students with a College Signing Day celebration.

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Last Modified: 05/13/2016