Press Room NEWSLETTERS
January 19, 2017

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...
Secretary's Final Message
ESSA Update
Celebrating Educators
Supporting College Students
Funding Opportunities
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Editor's Note

Tomorrow, our nation will observe the transition from one presidential administration to the next. Like all other recurring publications of the Department, ED Review will be on hiatus as it is evaluated by the incoming administration. We expect ED Review or another resource will be available in the near future to provide updates on agency activities. In the interim, visit https://www.ed.gov/ for the latest news and information. Thank you for your patience.

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Secretary's Final Message

On January 18, Secretary King issued his final message—reprinted below in its entirety.

Today is a bittersweet day for me. It's the last time I will communicate with you as your Education Secretary. It's also an opportunity to celebrate the progress our nation has made over the last eight years toward ensuring all students have access to the rich, well-rounded learning opportunities they deserve. And, it's a chance to say thank you.

I am grateful to all of you—those who read these messages and care deeply about education; those who teach; those who parent; those who lead schools; those who mentor youth; those who advocate for the resources that students need to be successful; those who provide life-saving health and wraparound support services to children and families; and those who serve their communities in myriad other ways.

You are a critical part of the work to expand opportunity and equity for this country's diverse learners. Over these eight years, we increased access to quality preschool for thousands of children and families; raised graduation rates to the highest level in history; improved students' access to technology; invested in innovations in teaching and learning; and increased college access, affordability, and completion. We have worked to protect students' civil rights and advocate for students who are most vulnerable, including foster youth, young people in juvenile justice facilities, homeless youth, students with disabilities, English learners, children from low-income families, and students of color.

There's a lot to be proud of, but, as we all know, there is much more to do before we can say that we are living up to our nation's ideals of equality, freedom, and opportunity for everyone. But, we know how to get there, and it's through education.

My life is proof of the transformative power of education—as are the lives of the countless students I've taught, mentored, or, in the last year, met in the 31 states I've visited as Education Secretary.

New York City public school teachers literally saved my life. When I lost both parents at an early age, teachers gave me a safe haven. They challenged me with high expectations and rich learning opportunities. Teachers provided me with hope in a time of despair. They helped me thrive and become the person I am today, and inspired me to become a high school social studies teacher and middle school principal—and to try to do for other students what educators did for me.

Quality, equitable public education is essential to a strong democracy, a thriving economy, and increased opportunity for all.

Never doubt that, if we develop our children's minds, nurture their hearts, and make sure they know they are safe and welcome in their schools—no matter who they are—the future of our country is strong.

When First Lady Michelle Obama gave her final speech, she dedicated it to educators and students themselves. She told young people, 'Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.' She asked young people to lead by example, through education, and with hope. And that's exactly what I know so many of us who serve in the education community will continue to do, too. To lead by our example, through education, and with hope.

Know that I will be rooting for and working hard right along with you. Please stay in touch and follow me at @JohnBKing."

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ESSA Update

Responding to requests for additional clarity in the transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Department released a series of resources, all of which are posted on the ESSA resources web page. Among the new, non-regulatory guidance: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on accountability under Title I, Part A; a resource guide on accountability for English Learners; Consolidated State Plan guidance; state and local report cards guidance; and high school graduation rate guidance. Also, the agency is providing technical assistance to states on preparing a plan that meets the requirements in the ESSA and accountability, data reporting, and state plan regulation.

In a November 2016 Dear Colleague Letter, the Department established two deadlines for submission of ESSA State Plans: April 3 or September 18. Consistent with the requirements of ESSA, the agency will conduct a peer review process of the plans after each of the submission dates. The agency will not review plans on a rolling basis. To manage the peer review process, the Department requested each state provide the date by which it intends to submit its plan. These submission dates are for informational purposes; at any time, a state may decide to submit its plan on the other date.

The Department is seeking highly qualified individuals—educators, state and local education agency personnel, researchers, and others—to serve as peer reviewers of ESSA State Plans. Reviewers will evaluate whether plans meet statutory and regulatory requirements and the degree to which each plan will support a comprehensive and coherent set of improvements within the areas of consultation and performance management; assessments; accountability and support for schools; supporting educators; and supporting all students. They will work together on panels to offer vital feedback to the agency on plans. (Note: Those interested in serving as a peer reviewer must apply by January 27.)

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Celebrating Educators

Last week, Department staff called more than 2,300 educators across the country, thanking them for their commitment to students and families (video of the Secretary calling educators). The educators were nominated by their colleagues, parents, and students to receive calls. Moreover, a teacher Twitter chat was held, pre-service teachers were welcomed to the agency, and books were collected and donated to a school (blog post on the importance of educator appreciation and honoring the profession).

The Department has extended the deadline for applications for the 2017-18 School Ambassador Fellowship to Monday, February 6 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

The Council of Chief State School Officers has named four teachers as finalists for the 2017 National Teacher of the Year award.

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Supporting College Students

This month, the Department took several more actions to support higher education students and families.

First, on January 12, Under Secretary Ted Mitchell gave his final speech, titled "Innovating for Equity: The Future of American Higher Education." "Higher learning has been central to the American story, written over centuries, empowering individuals not only to advance their own station, but to engage in our democracy—to preserve and protect those freedoms," he said. "Our colleges and universities are communities that must strive each day to embody our highest aspirations for our country. Today, that means they must not only be bulwarks of rigor and academic excellence, but also of liberty and equality, diversity and inclusiveness, freedom and opportunity. If we retreat from those, we risk not only the integrity of our institutions, but the viability of our democracy" (transcript and video).

At that time, the agency released a supplement to the National Educational Technology Plan, embracing the themes of accessibility, equity, and lifelong learning and supporting the assertion that technology must serve the needs of a diverse group of students seeking access to high-quality postsecondary learning.

Second, the Department released initial debt-to-earnings rates for career training programs, as required by the gainful employment regulations. The data shows that, while many programs offer value to students, there are a significant number of career training programs—particularly for-profit programs—that do not provide their graduates with a reasonable return on investment. A new disclosure template, to be released later this month, will present this information in a single format and aligned with information provided on the College Scorecard (press release, as well as press call transcript and audio).

Third, the agency announced plans to grant borrower defense relief for federal student loan borrowers who attended the now-defunct American Career Institute in Massachusetts. The agency also announced substantial progress processing borrower defense claims from former Corinthian College students and that approvals are beginning for borrower defense claims from former ITT Technical Institute students. Additionally, the agency announced a large number of closed school loan discharges have been approved, including students impacted by the recent closure of ITT (press release).

Fourth, to identify the most promising ways to improve postsecondary outcomes, the agency announced efforts to support responsible data access and transparency of information about higher education, while supporting borrower privacy and data security (blog post and fact sheet).

Finally, the agency published a final version of a guidance letter clarifying requirements, terminology, and channels used by accrediting agencies reporting to the Department (blog post).

Separately, the Departments of Treasury and Education signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing a framework for electronically sharing tax data over multiple years for federal student loan borrowers participating in Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans. A multi-year consent system would simplify IDR, by eliminating the need for borrowers to submit income information on an annual basis.

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Funding Opportunities

Be sure to review the Department's Fiscal Year 2017 Grants Forecast (as of January 2017), which lists virtually all programs and competitions under which the agency has invited or expects to invite applications for awards and provides actual or estimated dates for the transmittal of applications under these programs. (Note: This document is advisory only and not an official application notice of the Department of Education.) Also, the Apply for a Grant web page lists all open grant competitions. As an example, the agency just invited applications for FY 2017 Charter Schools Program grants for charter management organizations.

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Odds and Ends

  • On January 6, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the annual School Counselor of the Year ceremony at the White House. As part of the event, she gave her final remarks as First Lady (transcript and video), celebrating the hard work of educators and issuing a call to action to carry the work forward (fact sheet).

  • On January 11, Secretary King met with students at Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, D.C., discussing college and, specifically, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (blog post).

  • Then, on January 16, the Secretary, his family, and Department staff honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day by volunteering with City Year representatives at Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C.

  • An inter-departmental review of early learning programs reports that only eight federal programs have the primary purpose of promoting early learning for children from birth to six-years-old.

  • The Department shared key resources and information to support educators and families in ensuring the success of immigrant students, especially those in early learning programs and elementary schools.

  • The Department also shared resources and information on creating safe and supportive learning environments, including a social-emotional toolkit, a school climate improvement reference manual, and civil rights fact sheets concerning religious discrimination.

  • The agency announced a rule to expand access to educational resources through open licensing.

  • This week, the Department launched its first-ever developer hub, a dedicated space for centralizing developer resources, documenting open government efforts at the agency, and rightfully celebrating what has been built using available data and code.

  • Also this week, a number of student leaders visited the Department and shared with the Secretary how they engaged in activism—supported by adults—on issues important to them.

  • The White House recently released both a second report of the Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and a guide on preventing and addressing campus sexual misconduct (blog post).

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Quote to Note

"It falls to each of us to be 'anxious, jealous guardians' of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we've been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud title, the most important office in a democracy: citizen. You see, that's what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there's an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you're tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you're disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office. Show up. Dive in. Stay at it.... Presuming a reservoir of goodness in other people, that can be a risk, and there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, and to see it up close, it can energize and inspire. More often than not, your faith in America—and in Americans—will be confirmed."

        President Barack Obama (1/10/16), from his Farewell Address

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Upcoming Events

The Department's Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS) extends an invitation to a series of webinars about the non-regulatory guidance on the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment (ESSA Title IV, Part A) grants. These grants seek to increase the capacity of states, districts, schools, and communities to provide all students with access to a well-rounded education; improve school conditions to boost student learning; and improve the effective use of technology to increase the academic achievement and digital literacy of all students. The second webinar—on the role of states, local application requirements, and implementing effective activities—is January 26 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Please join the Department's Family Ambassador Fellow and Family Engagement Team at the agency's headquarters building on February 9 for a special forum titled "Family Engagement: Successes and Hopes in Improving Student Outcomes." Parents and families should plan to attend Session 1 (9:30-11:30 a.m.), while representatives of organizations should plan to attend Session 2 (2:00-4:00 p.m.). To register, send a message to Carrie.Jasper@ed.gov by January 30, indicating which session you plan to attend.

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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 Dworkin, Deputy Assistant Secretary

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This newsletter contains hypertext links to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. These links are provided for the user's convenience. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information. Furthermore, the inclusion of links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.

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Last Modified: 01/19/2017