Press Room NEWSLETTERS
October 21, 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...
Graduation Rate Data
Civics in Schools
Teacher Preparation Regulations
ESSA Update
Early Learning and Technology
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Graduation Rate Data

This week, President Obama visited Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., to announce that the nation's high school graduation rate reached a new record high of 83.2% in the 2014-15 school year. The high school graduation rate has steadily increased over the President's time in office, growing by about four percentage points since the 2010-11 school year—the first year that all states used a consistent, four-year adjusted measure of high school completion. The graduation rate has also improved for all reported groups, including students of color, low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities, and African-American, Hispanic, and Native American students continue to narrow the gap between their graduation rates and those of their white peers—even as all groups made progress.

Similarly, nearly every state has recorded progress on graduation rates since the 2010-11 school year.

In his remarks, the President also highlighted investments and resources available for students to earn a degree beyond high school, emphasized the Administration's accomplishments in improving educational opportunities and outcomes for all students from cradle through career, and reflected on the work that remains to ensure every student has a chance to succeed (remarks, video, blog post with graphics and student reflection, fact sheet, and state-by-state data tables 1 and 2).

Also: Last week, the President participated in a town hall meeting hosted by ESPN's "The Undefeated" on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University to discuss progress made on the My Brother's Keeper initiative and the role and legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Since launching more than two years ago, over $600 million in private sector and philanthropic grants and in-kind resources and $1 billion in low-interest financing have been committed toward the MBK call to action to expand opportunity for young people. Additionally, the MBK Task Force's efforts have led to new federal policy initiatives, grant programs, and guidance (article and video, Medium post by the President, op-ed by Secretary King, fact sheet, progress report, and first-ever Pay for Success awards to improve outcomes for youth by finding and scaling career and technical education [CTE] programs and advancing dual language programs for early learners).

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Civics in Schools

Also this week, at the National Press Club, Secretary King delivered remarks on the importance of civic-minded education, as well as expanding the definition of civics in schools.

"When we think about the responsibilities of citizens, we typically think primarily about voting," the Secretary declared. "Voting is the cornerstone of freedom. The right to vote undergirds all our other rights. To not vote is to turn your back on your neighbors and your community and your country.... However, as I would tell my students when I was teaching, voting is only one responsibility of citizenship. The strength of our democracy depends on all of us, as Americans, understanding our history and the Constitution and how our government works at every level; becoming informed and thoughtful about local, state, and national issues; getting involved in solving problems in our schools, communities, states, and nation; recognizing that the solutions to the complex issues our nation faces today all require compromise; being willing to think beyond our own needs and wants and to embrace our obligations to the greater good; and volunteering on behalf of others."

The Secretary encouraged schools and colleges "to be bold and creative in educating for citizenship." "Make preparing your students for their civic duties just as much a priority as preparing them to succeed in college and careers," he said. "And, I ask educators to work from the broader definition of civic duty that I have described. I ask teachers and principals and superintendents to help your students learn to be problem solvers who can grapple with challenging issues.... And solutions to problems can and should be rooted in different philosophies of government. We have to make sure that classrooms welcome and celebrate these different perspectives."

Also: Earlier this month, the Secretary gave remarks and participated in a question-and-answer session at a conference on the 50th anniversary of "The Equality of Educational Opportunity Report," informally known as the Coleman Report for the Johns Hopkins University sociologist who conducted the study. The Secretary discussed the Administration's efforts to improve education for disadvantaged students, including advocating for college- and career-ready standards, investing in high-quality early learning, supporting and investing in educators, helping communities provide a variety of social services, and promoting diversity in schools.

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Teacher Preparation Regulations

On October 12, the Department issued final regulations to help ensure new teachers are ready to succeed in the classroom and every student is taught by a great educator. The regulations build on progress across the country and take into account extensive feedback since proposed rules were first released. They aim to bring transparency to the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs, provide those programs with information to help them continuously improve, and respond to educators who do not feel ready to enter the classroom after graduation.

Core provisions of the regulations include:

  • providing transparency around the effectiveness of preparation programs (traditional, alternative, and distance education) by requiring states to report annually—at the program level—on the following measures: placement and retention rates of graduates in their first three years of teaching, including in high-need schools; feedback from graduates and employers on the effectiveness of program preparation; student learning outcomes measured by novice teachers' student growth, teacher evaluation results, or a state-determined measure that is relevant to student outcomes—including academic performance—and meaningfully differentiates among teachers; and other program characteristics, including assurances the program has specialized accreditation or graduates students with content and pedagogical knowledge and quality clinical preparation who have met rigorous exit requirements;

  • allowing states flexibility in whether to report on additional measures, as well as how to weigh all outcome measures, while requiring states to categorize program effectiveness using at least three levels of performance (effective, at-risk, and low-performing) and provide technical assistance to any program rated at low-performing;

  • requiring states to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including educators and program providers, in developing or improving their systems to identify effective and low-performing programs; and

  • incentivizing prospective teachers in a high-need field or in a low-income school to attend high-quality programs by limiting TEACH grants to those programs that states determine to be effective at least two of the previous three years.

States will design their reporting system during the 2016-17 academic year. They may choose to use 2017-18 as a pilot year and fully implement the system in 2018-19. The first year for which any program may lose TEACH grants eligibility is 2021-22.

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ESSA Update

Over the last 24 hours, the Department issued new non-regulatory guidance to help implement key provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

First, yesterday, the agency released guidance to help young children from birth through third-grade get the strong start they need to achieve success in school and in life. The ESSA has provisions to promote coordination in early learning among local communities, align preschool with early elementary school, and build the capacity of teachers, leaders, and others serving young children to provide the highest-quality early learning opportunities. The guidance is intended to remind state and local decision-makers about the importance of investing in early learning, spotlight the opportunities available under the new law to strengthen early education, and provide examples of how states and communities can support young children's success in school.

Second, this morning, the agency released guidance to help states, school districts, and schools provide all students with access to a well-rounded education (including the arts, music, social studies, environmental education, and civics), bolster school conditions for student learning, and improve the use of technology to expand academic achievement and digital literacy. Under Title IV, Part A, the ESSA authorizes new Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants and gives states and districts flexibility to tailor investments based on the unique needs of their student populations. The guidance provides resources, tools, and examples of innovative strategies to support effective implementation of the grant program.

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Early Learning and Technology

This morning, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services also issued a policy brief on early learning and the use of technology to help families and early educators use technology to promote active, engaged, meaningful, and socially interactive learning. The brief will help those who care for nearly 36 million children from birth to eight-years-old make wise decisions about media use and presents four guiding principles on the use of technology with young children. It also includes a call to action for researchers, media, and application developers, underscoring topics for further research and encouraging the development of research-based products.

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Odds and Ends

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Quote to Note

"Students should understand that the Constitution protects the right of Colin Kaepernick to protest during the National Anthem and why players across the country—including high school students—are doing the same. They should also understand and be able to explain with evidence why some people are offended by that decision or would choose a different way to express their views. Civics shouldn't be an add-on. It can be made a part of every class, not just social studies and history but also reading and writing, science, and math.... Beyond knowledge, students need civic skills. They should be able to write persuasive letters to the editor or to the mayor or to the member of Congress and learn to speak at public meetings. In addition, they should have opportunities to 'do' democracy."

        Secretary John King (10/19/16), in remarks at the National Press Club on civics education

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Upcoming Events

Today's "Fulfilling America's Future: Latinas in the U.S. Summit" will further the asset-based narrative on Latinas and raise awareness on the investments needed in support of advancing the educational, workforce, and leadership opportunities for Latinas. Interested parties may join the conversation via livestream or social media using #YoSoyLatina.

The 2016 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference gets underway next week in Arlington, Virginia. Some 600 representatives from colleges and universities, federal agencies, corporations, and foundations will participate in discussions on issues of interest to the HBCU community.

Schools are encouraged to invite U.S. military veterans into their classrooms around Veterans Day (November 11). Veterans can share their experiences and teach students lessons about the history and significance of the federal holiday, helping students reflect upon the importance of the ideals of liberty, freedom, and democracy.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 11/04/2016