Press Room NEWSLETTERS
June 10, 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...
Week of Equity
Chronic Student Absenteeism
Promise Zones
Funding Opportunities
Healthy Lunchtime Challenge
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Week of Equity

While educational equity underscores much of the work of the Department, this week offered a glimpse into the far-ranging work of the agency in supporting families, schools, communities, and states in ensuring every student has the opportunity to succeed (blog post).

First, on June 6, Secretary King joined Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Munoz for a roundtable discussion on strategies to address discrimination, harassment, and bullying directed at Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASSA) students in schools. The event convened education associations, advocacy organizations, teachers, principals, counselors, parents, students, and community members to hear from each other, identify existing resources, and explore opportunities to enhance individual and collective efforts to create safe and supportive learning environments for all students, including MASSA students. Federal laws enforced by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division (CRT) and the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) direct schools to take immediate and appropriate action to protect all students from discrimination based on race, color, and national origin. CRT also enforces prohibitions on religious discrimination in public schools. A fact sheet on combatting discrimination has been translated into 15 languages.

Second, on June 7, OCR unveiled new data showing persistent gaps in key areas affecting equity and opportunity, including incidents of discipline, restraint and seclusion, access to courses and other programs that lead to college and career readiness, teacher equity, rates of retention, and access to early learning. Despite significant work by states, school districts, and schools, the wide disparities shown in the latest Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC)—with data from all public schools and districts nationwide for the 2013-14 school year—highlight the need for a focus on equity, especially in the implementation of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The CRDC collected data on several topics for the first time, including chronic absenteeism (see below), access to education programs in justice facilities, availability of distance education, presence of sworn law enforcement officers in schools, availability of partially or fully subsidized preschool, and whether the district has a civil rights coordinator. A First Look report is the first in a series of data analyses from the 2013-14 CRDC that OCR will issue over the summer and fall. To make this data more accessible and useful for parents, educators, and policymakers, for the first time, the whole data file is available for download. (Note: Using the CRDC, GreatSchools aims to build a richer set of individual school profiles.)

Third, also on June 7, Secretary King traveled to Petersburg, Virginia, to join Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Congressman Bobby Scott, and Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe to raise awareness of the importance and availability of summer meals for students. Also, the Secretaries issued a joint letter, encouraging local leaders to provide summer meals to students at schools and community centers, share information about nearby summer meal sites, and serve as a "community champion" of summer meal programs. Nationally, 22.1 million students receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year. Yet, just one in six of those students participate in summer meal programs. This is a critical gap to be filled. (Note: Digital and printable summer meal materials are available here.)

Fourth, on June 8, Secretary King and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy held a Congressional briefing about the Administration's Stronger Together proposal to support innovative, locally driven plans to increase socioeconomic diversity in schools. The Secretary then joined Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro for a listening session jointly hosted by the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation on strategies for improving diversity within schools and communities and expanding opportunity through collaboration across the education, housing, and transportation sectors. Also, the Secretaries issued a joint letter, calling for state and local leaders to create real economic mobility and identify and address community barriers that hinder racial diversity and socioeconomic growth. (Note: The Department of Education launched a new web page, outlining work related to promoting diversity and opportunity.)

And fifth, also on June 8, the White House and the Department of Education announced the names of 20 new My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Success Mentors Initiative communities. There are now a total of 30 MBK Success Mentors communities. This initiative aims to reduce chronic absenteeism by connecting students who are or at risk of becoming chronically absent with trained school-linked caring adults and near-peers over the next three to five years. It is the nation's first-ever effort to scale an evidence-based, data-driven mentor model to reach and support the highest-risk students—using existing resources already linked to schools, and the metric of chronic absenteeism to drive success. Joining Secretary King for the event were Assistant to the President Broderick Johnson, NBA star Kevin Durant, and STATE Bags' Co-Founder Scott Tatelman, each of whom spoke about the value of mentorships.

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Chronic Student Absenteeism

Capping the week, the Department released new, first-ever chronic absenteeism data through a new, interactive web site and hosted a two-day Every Student, Every Day National Conference to support states, districts, schools, and communities in their efforts to develop effective chronic absenteeism policy and practice. The conference focused on how schools can address root causes of the problem and strengthen the collaborative capacity of multi-agency early warning systems to link students to interventions, programs, and preventative services.

The 2013-14 CRDC shows that chronic absenteeism impacts students in all parts of the country and is prevalent among all races, as well as students with disabilities. National data reveals more than six million students—or 13% of all students—missed at least 15 days of school in the 2013-14 school year.

Meanwhile, Principal Ambassador Fellow Joseph Manko penned a blog post on the importance of committing to the "first-order work of getting students in the door."

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Promise Zones

Earlier this week, the Administration named the final nine Promise Zones—high-poverty areas in urban, rural, and tribal communities. The newly named Promise Zones join 13 others designated in 2014 and 2015. Through the Promise Zones initiative, the federal government will work closely with local leaders to boost economic activity and job growth, improve educational opportunities, reduce crime, and leverage private investment to bolster the quality of life. Each Promise Zone is coordinated by a lead community-based organization. All Promise Zones receive priority access to key federal investments that further their strategic plans, federal staff on the ground to help them implement their outlined goals, and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers and strengthen total capacity. (Note: Secretary King released a statement on the new Promise Zones designations.)

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Funding Opportunities

The Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) recently invited applications under two grant competitions—the Teacher Quality Partnership Program, or TQP, and the Teacher Incentive Fund, or TIF—to ensure all students have access to great educators who can help them succeed.

TQP builds partnerships between high-need schools and teacher preparation programs to prepare and support effective educators, either as an extension of an undergraduate degree program or using a "residency" model to give candidates real world experience and practice as they prepare to become outstanding educators. Since 2009, TQP has partnered with 64 grantees, representing an investment of more than $545 million. This year's TQP grant competition will fund up to five grantees with an estimated $5 million and includes a focus on serving students in rural districts.

As in any other profession, teachers and principals need ongoing feedback and opportunities to develop throughout their career. TIF supports districts pursuing performance-based compensation as part of an overall human capital management system. The next grant competition will build on a portfolio of 97 grants, representing nearly $2 billion in funding to states, districts, and non-profit organizations, by awarding up to $70 million to up to 10 grantees to attract, develop, and retain great educators. This year's TIF grant competition also includes a focus on serving rural districts, as well as a focus on promoting equitable access to effective educators.


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Healthy Lunchtime Challenge

First Lady Michelle Obama and the Departments of Education and Agriculture announced the winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, a recipe challenge for students that supports cooking and healthy eating as part of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative. Winners representing all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and five territories will attend a special "Kids' State Dinner" at the White House hosted by the First Lady on July 14. The young chefs and their parents or guardians will enjoy a healthy lunch—featuring a selection of the winning recipes—followed by a visit to the White House kitchen garden.

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Odds and Ends

  • The White House announced a new federal policy statement from the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services on better supporting the country's youngest dual language learners within early learning programs and public and private sector commitments to support dual language learning (fact sheet).

  • The Department of Education has accepted law firm Squire Patton Boggs as independent monitor for Zenith Education Group, a non-profit group that operates former Corinthian College campuses.

  • The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and National World War I Museum and Memorial are creating a bi-monthly electronic newsletter and corresponding web pages with resources and learning opportunities about World War I and are asking teachers to share created content that can be used in the classroom.

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Quote to Note

"The CRDC data is more than numbers and charts—they illustrate in powerful and troubling ways disparities in opportunities and experiences that different groups of students have in our schools. The Administration has always stressed how data can better empower parents, educators, and policymakers to make informed decisions about how to better serve students. The stories the CRDC data tell us create the imperative for a continued call to action to do better and close achievement and opportunity gaps. This is one of the reasons I am excited by the opportunity offered by the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It makes clear the obligation our schools and states have to ensure that all students have access to an excellent education that prepares them to succeed in college and careers. It also makes clear that ESSA's Title I funds are to be used to provide the additional support needed to make that happen."

        Secretary of Education John King (6/7/16), announcing the 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection

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Upcoming Events

Today, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the Department is hosting a Pay for Success (PFS) convening, bringing together state and local education leaders and policymakers, foundations, funders, non-profit organizations, and PFS experts to discuss and share information about potential opportunities to improve educational outcomes for students using PFS models. The event is being livestreamed, and the video will remain available on demand.

On June 14, at 2:00 p.m. ET, the Department's Offices of English Language Acquisition (OELA) and Early Learning (OEL) and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) will sponsor the latest "Connecting Research-Practice-Policy" learning series of webinars. "The Study of Dual Language Immersion" will feature an IES grantee's study of dual language immersion in the Portland, Oregon, Public Schools. Also, a panel of teachers will provide responses to the study from a classroom perspective. To participate virtually, please go here.

The Department is accepting applications for fall 2016 internships through July 15. Interns will have an opportunity to learn about federal education policy while developing a variety of other skills, including communication, researching, and writing. They will also participate in group events, such as lunches with senior agency officials, local tours, and movie nights.

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Last Modified: 06/10/2016