Press Room NEWSLETTERS
May 27, 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...
ESSA Update
Dual Enrollment Experiment
Civil Rights Guidance
Technology and Engineering Literacy
Foster Youth Transition Toolkit
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

ESSA Update

This week, in an important step toward implementing the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Department announced proposed regulations to give states clarity in rethinking their accountability, data reporting, and consolidated state plans. These regulations would replace the narrow, one-size-fits-all approach that defined ESSA's predecessor, No Child Left Behind, with new flexibility for states and school districts, a more holistic approach to measuring a quality education that will help prepare students for success, and strong protections to ensure the progress of all students. They would also reinforce ESSA's commitment to transparency and meaningful engagement and an active role for parents, teachers, students, community leaders, and other critical stakeholders in implementing the law.

The proposed regulations were informed by extensive input from a diverse group of stakeholders. The Department participated in over 200 meetings and events and received hundreds of comments prior to the release of the regulations, and the agency welcomes additional feedback from stakeholders through the public comment period (until August 1).

The proposed regulations will be published in the Federal Register on May 31. In the meantime, one may view the proposed regulations, summary, press release, and comparison chart on the Department's ESSA resources web page. There are also explanatory posts on the Homeroom blog and Medium.

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Dual Enrollment Experiment

Last week, the Department invited 44 postsecondary institutions to participate in an experiment that—for the first time—allows students taking college-credit courses to access federal Pell Grants as early as high school. As part of the experiment, an estimated 10,000 high school students will have the opportunity to access approximately $20 million in Pell Grants to take dual enrollment courses provided by colleges and high schools throughout the nation. About 80% of the selected sites are community colleges.

Dual enrollment, in which high school students enroll in postsecondary coursework, is a promising approach to improve academic outcomes for students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds. During the 2010-11 academic year, more than 1.4 million high school students took courses offered by a college or university for credit through dual enrollment. A growing body of research suggests that participation in dual enrollment can lead to better grades in high school, increased enrollment in college after high school, higher rates of persistence in college, greater credit accumulation, and increased rates of credential attainment. Yet, cost can be a barrier. At nearly half of the postsecondary institutions with dual enrollment programs, most students pay out of pocket to attend.

Under the experimental sites authority of the Higher Education Act, the Secretary is waiving existing federal aid rules that prohibit high school students from accessing Pell Grants. Through this experiment, the Department hopes to learn about the impact of providing earlier access to financial aid on low-income students' college access, participation, and success (fact sheet).

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Civil Rights Guidance

On May 13, the Departments of Education and Justice released joint guidance to help provide educators the information they need to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex. Recently, questions have arisen from school districts, colleges and universities, and others about how to make sure students can enjoy a safe and discrimination-free environment. Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal funds may not discriminate based on a student's sex, including a student's transgender status, and the guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student's gender identity as the student's sex for the purposes of enforcing Title IX.

The guidance explains that, when students or their parents (as appropriate) notify a school that a student is transgender, the school must treat the student consistent with the student's gender identity. A school may not require transgender students to have a medical diagnosis, undergo any medical treatment, or produce a birth certificate or other identification document before treating them consistent with their gender identity. The guidance also explains schools' obligations to: respond promptly and effectively to sex-based harassment of all students, including any harassment based on a student's actual or perceived gender identity, transgender status, or gender transition; treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their school records or identification documents indicate a different sex; allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity; and protect students' privacy related to their transgender status under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). At the same time, the guidance makes clear that schools can provide additional privacy options to any student for any reason. The guidance does not require any student to use shared bathrooms or changing spaces when there are other appropriate options available, and schools can take steps to increase privacy within shared facilities.

The Department's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) also released "Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students," a compilation of policies and practices that schools across the country are already using to support transgender students (blog post).

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Technology and Engineering Literacy

Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) is a new assessment administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), providing results on students' academic performance and related experiences both in and out of school. Forty-three percent of eighth-grade students performed at or above the Proficient level on questions that revealed skills in thinking through problems systematically, using technology and engineering information built into each task to arrive at the best solutions. Surprising to some, female white and black students outperformed their male peers in TEL overall, while female Hispanic and Asian students kept pace with, but did not exceed, their male peers.

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Foster Youth Transition Toolkit

Yesterday (May 26), the Department released a toolkit to inspire and support foster youth pursuing college and career opportunities. The Foster Care Transition Toolkit includes tips and resources intended to help current and former foster youth access and navigate social, emotional, educational, and skills-based barriers as they transition into adulthood. Currently, there are over 400,000 children and youth in the foster care system, and, every year, some 23,000 youth age out of the system, having never found the security of a permanent home.

A high-quality education can help foster youth achieve life success despite past experiences with abuse, neglect, separation, and other barriers. The toolkit advises on: financial aid and money management, mentoring opportunities, job and career support, health care resources, transportation options, and housing and food benefits. It also provides many examples of existing efforts that assist foster youth.

The toolkit was designed by the Department of Education, in partnership with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and Transportation, and incorporates input from practitioners and foster youth. It was released as a part of National Foster Care Month and in conjunction with the first-ever White House Foster Care and Technology Hackathon, which convened child welfare leaders, non-profit organizations, philanthropies, and foster care families and alumni, as well as engineers, technologists, and other leaders, to "hack" innovative solutions for some of the most pressing issues in the foster care system.

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Odds and Ends

  • Secretary King hosted a press call marking the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, addressing the "responsibility and moral obligation to build on the civil rights legacy of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) [which is currently known as the ESSA] and ensure Title I dollars are truly supplemental."

  • Secretary King also penned an op-ed on the importance of increasing teacher diversity, raising the "invisible tax"—being the lone male educator of color in a school, while simultaneously being the main disciplinarian for all students who share similar backgrounds—that many teachers silently endure for the sake of their schools' students (blog post).

  • The Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) published notices inviting applications for the Investing in Innovation (i3) Validation and Scale-Up competitions. This year's competitions include a focus on projects that implement and support the transition to college- and career-ready academic content standards and associated assessments; promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education; and improve low-performing schools. Also, the agency is committed to funding applications that serve rural communities.

  • The Department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) awarded $13.4 million in grants to institutions of higher education for quality personnel preparation programs to help improve services and results for students with disabilities.

  • A report details successes and challenges in the third year of implementation in the seven states with Phase 3 Race to the Top grants.

  • "The Condition of Education 2016," a Congressionally mandated report to the country on education in America today, presents 43 indicators grouped under four areas: population characteristics, participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education. The report also underlines issues of current policy interest: kindergartners' approaches to learning, family socioeconomic status, and early academic gains; differences in postsecondary enrollment among recent high school completers; and post-bachelor's employment outcomes by sex and race/ethnicity.

  • The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance Center created a virtual toolkit for those with roles and responsibilities in school emergency management. This toolkit, divided into three sections—develop high-quality emergency operations plans (EOPs), engage youth and the school community, and connect with other emergency management practitioners—offers the latest federal training and technical assistance resources and information for schools.

  • On May 16, the White House and the Department of Labor announced a number of new steps under the Summer Opportunity Project, including $21 million in Summer Jobs and Beyond grants to 11 communities to connect disadvantaged young people with jobs this summer and year-round and 16 Summer Impact Hubs that will receive coordinated support from 16 federal agencies to expand and refine their summer jobs, learning, meals, and violence reduction programs (fact sheet).

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Quote to Note

"I want to celebrate the students of this class, and I want to point out that students of this class don't look exactly how college is depicted on sitcoms. Not everyone here was hanging out, going from party to party throughout their college experience. Folks were balancing work and the challenges of family. Folks were balancing supporting other members of their family. Folks were balancing trying to get their lives back on track, after making decisions they regretted. Folks had to overcome obstacles to be here, and some of your classmates demonstrate exactly what it is that we hope college can mean for all students.... I am particularly moved by the stories of the students and educators here because I understand deeply and personally the difference that education can make."

        Secretary of Education John King (5/13/16), from his Milwaukee Area Technical College commencement address

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Upcoming Events

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, at 3:00 p.m. local time, Americans are asked to stop what they are doing and spend one minute in a Moment of Remembrance. The mid-afternoon time was chosen because it is when a majority of Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the holiday.

Do you know someone who has been a role model and mentor to others within the STEM disciplines? Please consider nominating them for the President's Award for Excellence in STEM Mentoring, which recognizes outstanding mentoring efforts that enhance the participation and retention of students and early career investigators, with a special emphasis on those who might not otherwise have considered or had access to opportunities in STEM fields. Nominations, including self-nominations, will be accepted until June 17.

June 17-23, coinciding with the National Maker Faire, the White House will celebrate a "Week of Making," lifting up makers and builders and doers of all ages who are funneling their ingenuity into amazing projects, developing creative solutions to important problems and bringing their innovations to the market.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

ED Review is a product of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications and Outreach, State and Local Engagement—Lindsay O'Mara, Deputy Assistant Secretary

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Last Modified: 05/27/2016