Press Room NEWSLETTERS
December 2, 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
Preschool Development Grants
Expanding College Opportunity
Ending Corporal Punishment
Faith and Community Partnerships
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

ESSA Update

On November 28, after considering and incorporating extensive feedback from stakeholders throughout the education community, the Department announced final regulations to implement the accountability, data reporting, and consolidated state plan provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—with a focus on supporting states in using their flexibility to provide a high-quality, well-rounded education and ensure equity remains at the core of implementation. The regulations replace the prescriptive systems that defined the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) with new flexibility for states and school districts; a more holistic approach to measuring a quality education that will help prepare students for success in college and careers; and strong protections to make sure that academic progress and equity for all students matter. They also reinforce ESSA's commitment to transparency and emphasize meaningful engagement and a more active role for students, parents, educators, civil rights and community groups, and other stakeholders in implementing the law (press release with highlights of key changes from the draft regulations, fact sheet with a summary of major provisions, chart on requirements and timeline for identification of schools for support and improvement, and audio recording of press call).

In a subsequent letter to Chief State School Officers, the agency released a Consolidated State Plan template—a state may opt to submit its consolidated state plan or individual program plans on April 3, 2017, or September 18, 2017—and a State Assurances template that must be submitted by April 3, 2017.

To provide states with additional assistance, the Department will be releasing guidance on accountability, data reporting, and consolidated state plans in the coming weeks. It has also launched the State Support Network, a four-year technical assistance initiative focused on helping states and districts in their work on school improvement, particularly achieving significant improvements in student outcomes, scaling up effective systemic approaches and practices within and across states and districts, and identifying and sharing effective practices.

Meanwhile, last week, the Department released guidance for fiscal changes and equitable services requirements under the ESSA. The guidance spotlights changes to: Title I, Part A within-state allocations; Title I, Part A within-district allocations; Title II, Part A allocations; maintenance of effort requirements; and transferability requirements. It also discusses specific changes to the equitable services requirements for private school students under Title I and Title VIII.

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Preschool Development Grants

This week, Secretary King announced more than $247 million in awards to 18 states under the Preschool Development Grants (PDG) program to continue expanding access to high-quality preschool for children from low- and moderate-income families. The awards are the third year of grants to states working with local communities to prepare the nation's most vulnerable children for success in school and beyond. Jointly administered by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the program has invested a total of $750 million and expanded access to new, high-quality preschool classrooms—or improved programs—in 230 high-need communities.

At the same time, the agency released a national report and state progress reports on the PDG program. These reports detail how states are meeting high standards and improving access to early learning for at-risk children. Classrooms improved by supporting well-qualified and compensated teachers, expanding to full-day programs, reducing class sizes or child-teacher ratios, providing professional development, and supplying comprehensive services. Last school year, over 28,000 children from low-income families had access to quality early learning because of PDG. This school year, another 35,000 children had the chance to enroll in these programs.

With the support of PDG, states have demonstrated a strong commitment to closing equity gaps and expanding opportunities so all children have a chance to succeed. States met 90% of their targets for number of children served. Six states—Alabama, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia—met or substantially exceeded their targets, reaching more children than planned. In their applications, states also committed to provide inclusive opportunities for children with disabilities. Across all grantees, 8.5% of children served were children with disabilities, which is above the national average of four-year-old children with disabilities in the nation (6.4%).

Separately, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released a joint report to help states refine their capacity to use existing data from early childhood programs to improve services for young children and families. The report covers critical considerations when states integrate data and details progress in eight states developing and using early childhood integrated data systems (ECIDS). It also discusses technical assistance, offers resources to states for ECIDS development, and reflects on lessons learned from additional states.

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Expanding College Opportunity

The Department recently released a report, "Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education," building on the Obama Administration's efforts to expand college opportunity for all. The report presents key data on the continuing educational inequalities and opportunity gaps for students of color and low-income students. It also underscores promising practices that colleges are taking to advance success for students of every background.

In conjunction with the report, the Secretary issued a Dear Colleague Letter calling on institutions to do all they can to eliminate harassment and discrimination to ensure a positive environment for all students.

Moreover, the White House Domestic Policy Council and Department hosted a Summit on Advancing Postsecondary Diversity and Inclusion, bringing together students, college and university presidents, researchers, civic organizations, and members of the business community to celebrate their efforts and share best practices to further expand college opportunity for all Americans.

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Ending Corporal Punishment

Secretary King sent a letter to governors and Chief State School Officers urging them to end the use of corporal punishment in schools, a practice linked to harmful short-term and long-term outcomes for students. "Our schools are bound by a sacred trust to safeguard the well-being, safety, and extraordinary potential of the children and youth within the communities they serve," he said. "While some may argue corporal punishment is a tradition in some school communities, society has evolved, and past practice alone is no justification. No school can be considered safe or supportive if its students are fearful of being physically punished. We strongly urge states to eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools—a practice that educators, civil rights advocates, medical professionals, and researchers agree is harmful to students and which the data shows us...disproportionally impacts students of color and students with disabilities" (audio recording of press call).

Corporal punishment has been banned in 28 states and the District of Columbia and abandoned by individual districts in many others. Nevertheless, more than 110,000 students across the country were subjected to corporal punishment during the 2013-14 school year, according to the latest version of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). (This map shows where the use of corporal punishment occurs nationwide.) What is more alarming is that the CRDC shows corporal punishment is used overwhelmingly on male students and more commonly administered to African-American students and students with disabilities of all genders.

In a similar effort, 80 organizations—teachers' groups, the National PTA, medical and mental health professionals, and civil rights advocates—issued a letter calling on states to end corporal punishment.

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Faith and Community Partnerships

Over the past eight years, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and its centers across 12 federal agencies have worked with a wide range of community organizations—faith-based and secular—to create greater opportunity for people in the country and around the world. Now, during this time of thanksgiving, they are expressing gratitude (letter), reflecting on their work and looking toward the future (blog post). Also, in a post on Medium, meet eight people—including the Department's Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell—who collaborate with faith and community leaders to bring real change to people's lives.

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Odds and Ends

  • Representatives from the Department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will be conducting a series of listening sessions the week of December 12, giving the public an opportunity to provide comment regarding the timely identification, evaluation, and appropriate provision of special education and related services to all eligible children with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). For those unable to attend the listening sessions, comments may be submitted via a blog post.

  • Don't miss these new National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports: "Student Victimization in U.S. Schools," "Use of Private Loans by Postsecondary Students," and "New American Undergraduates."

  • The first What Works Clearinghouse Educator's Practice Guide for higher education has six evidence-based recommendations, to improve the postsecondary success of students who may be academically under-prepared for college.

  • The 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) shows that U.S. fourth- and eighth-grade students have improved in math since 1995, while eighth-grade students have improved in science over the same time period. However, U.S. high school seniors in both advanced math and physics showed no measurable change.

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Quote to Note

"The final [accountability] regulations build on expectations and the flexibility of ESSA, allowing states, districts, and educators to drive the educational vision for students. They encourage states to design robust, multi-indicator accountability systems that paint a complete picture of student success and give states flexibility around which indicators to include in these systems. They also uphold civil rights protections by requiring states to use the progress of student subgroups as one factor in identifying schools and groups of students that need greater support, and, like the law, requiring action when states determine that entire schools are struggling—schools that too often serve our neediest students. And, they give districts, schools, and communities more leeway to develop tailored, evidence-based intervention strategies. States and communities often have the best sense of how to support their students. These regulations recognize and make room for that."

        Secretary of Education John King (11/28/16), on a press call discussing ESSA accountability regulations

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Upcoming Events

The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with other federal agencies, is seeking applications from after-school and out-of-school programs for the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. Twelve applicants will receive $10,000. The deadline for applications is February 8, 2017.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 12/02/2016