OVAE Review February 2006
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Center for Rural Education
Community Colleges
Adult Education and Literacy
Secondary, Career, and Technical Education
Other Department News

Center for Rural Education

Rural Education Task Force/Center for Rural Education

A new e-mail list has been established by the Center for Rural Education to facilitate communications with rural constituents.  This list will be used to disseminate information on the Secretary’s Rural Education Task Force, activities of the Center for Rural Education, and articles of interest to rural educators.  To subscribe, please follow these instructions:

  • Address e-mail to:
  • Write in the message's body:  subscribe RuralED [your name]
  • Example:  subscribe RuralED John Doe

Community Colleges

A Community College Forms a Unique Partnership with Local Businesses

In a time of unprecedented demands on our community colleges and high schools, the City of Chicago and State of Illinois are working with business partners and community colleges to provide innovative programs for learners. 

At Wilbur Wright College (WWC) in Chicago, innovative educators and business people have joined together to bring education from the college campus into the workplace.  This unique program also has the commitment of the City of Chicago through its TIFWorks Program, which gives businesses grants for training from a portion of real estate tax payments.

In the early 1990s, Wilber Wright College partnered with Eli’s Cheesecake Co. to form Eli’s University, a program in which Eli’s personnel were given work time to earn a GED on-site. Personnel were released from work so as to be able to attend class.  The partnership has since expanded beyond that, offering numerous classes to Eli’s employees (including supervisors) plus additional classes for associates in nearby businesses.  Under this program the community college trains adult learners in classes that include the development of computer skills, such as computer literacy, Outlook training and data base development, and good manufacturing practices.  The program even includes the training of employees in sign language to support the employment of deaf workers.   Eli’s president Marc Schulman believes in investing in associates to update their skills.   Schulman’s view is that by upgrading the skills of the associates, his business benefits—he creates better employees. “We believe it’s important to bring education into the workplace . . . it makes it more highly productive,” says Schulman. 

In addition, the president of the college has noticed a new benefit to the college:  by experiencing the quality of a community college education, Eli’s employees now see the community college as a place for their children to begin their own college experience.  Wilbur Wright’s president Charles Guengerich says “We’re very pleased . . . it’s great to have supportive business partners.  The unique role of the community college is to reach out into the community.  When we reach out and form partnerships everyone benefits.” 

For more information on Wilbur Wright College and other innovative programs, visit the Web site at


Adult Education and Literacy

Support for States to Implement Standards-based Reform in Adult Education

As states continue to develop and implement content standards for their adult education programs, the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) is planning for future technical assistance to states.  In January, we conducted a state needs assessment and usability evaluation of the content standards warehouse to determine the best ways to support states’ efforts to implement standards.  Over 40 adult educators from 24 states participated.  The results of the assessment and evaluation activities will help plan the next phase of OVAE’s efforts to support the needs of states already engaged in standards-based education reform.    

The state needs assessment focused on identifying the evolving needs of standards-based reform.  The discussions addressed:

  • The state efforts undertaken to date to develop and implement standards
  • The needs states face and anticipate as they move forward
  • The support and technical assistance the states have procured and provided

The states, which volunteered to participate, represented an array of approaches to the development process and varying years of experience in the standards movement.  Many states were part of the state standards consortia project sponsored by OVAE last year. 

Building on these activities, this project will produce a plan for delivering new services to states to promote standards-based education.  The plan will include recommendations for technical assistance and capacity building strategies to meet the needs of standards-based reform.  The expected program of new technical assistance will be announced in fall 2006. 


Secondary, Career, and Technical Education

CTE State Directors’ Spring Meeting

OVAE and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) will jointly sponsor the annual spring meeting for the state directors of career and technical education (CTE).  The meeting will take place April 10-12, 2006, at the Hilton Washington, in Washington, D.C.  An exciting agenda has been planned, with topics focusing on promoting improved collaboration between secondary and postsecondary education and the role of CTE in high school improvement.  Speakers will include OVAE’s Acting Assistant Secretary Beto Gonzalez and other key staff, as well as congressional staff and experienced educators.  There will also be a special session held on April 8 for the new state directors to give them an overview of the legislative requirements, policies, and procedures for managing the Perkins grant programs.  For more information, please contact Lois Davis at (202) 245-7784 or at or visit the NASDCTEc Web site at

State Scholars Initiative Update

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) released a Request for Proposal (RFP) on February 6, 2006 inviting state-level business/education partnerships to apply for State Scholars Initiative grants.  This competition will identify eight to twelve new states to join the existing network of 14 states.  Each new state-level business/education partnership may be funded at up to $300,000 over a two-year period to implement State Scholars projects, which are described in the RFP.  We encourage states not yet participating in the State Scholars Initiative to consider responding to this RFP.  The current 14 state participants are not eligible to reapply for new or continuing funds.  WICHE is managing the State Scholars Initiative for the department. 

The State Scholars Initiative is a multi-state business/education partnership effort focused on increasing the number of high school students who take a rigorous secondary-level curriculum designed to strengthen both college and workplace entrance and success.  At the heart of the program is a rigorous core course of study, which includes four years of English, three years of math (including Algebra I and II and geometry), three years of science (including biology, chemistry, and physics), three and one-half years of social studies, and two years of a language other than English. 

The RFP, with complete application materials, is now available at WICHE’s Web site at  WICHE is available to provide technical assistance to any eligible state entity interested in developing a proposal.  Please contact Terese Rainwater, program director for the State Scholars Initiative, if you have questions or comments regarding this program at or at 303-541-0225.  Proposals need to be received at WICHE by March 14, 2006. 

Data Quality Institute

OVAE hosted a Perkins Data Quality Institute (DQI) in Washington, D.C., on February 8-10, 2006.  More than 200 people attended, representing 48 states.  The agenda and institute materials can be found on the PCRN Web site at

The major objective of the DQI was to reach consensus on standardizing several measurement approaches for Perkins III core indicators.  States are required to collect and report data on their Perkins core indicators as part of their state accountability program.  The institute featured federal and state panelists who discussed strategies and methods for improving program performance and data quality.

During this 3-day event, participants were able to achieve consensus on a definition of a program "concentrator" and increase standardizing of selected measurement approaches.

In follow-up to the DQI, OVAE will sponsor two regional conferences in June 2006, in Phoenix and Atlanta to provide technical assistance to states in identifying and overcoming obstacles in order to implement the definitions.  Information about these upcoming regional meetings will be posted to the PCRN Web site.


Other Department News

Meeting the Challenge of a Changing World:  The American Competitiveness Initiative

On February 3, 2006, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings released "Meeting the Challenge of a Changing World: Strengthening Education for the 21st Century," the department's policy details outlining the education components of the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and other math, science, and critical language programs.  To meet the challenges of our changing world, and to improve our economic security and national security, America must continue to innovate and improve the nation's schools. 

More information about the American Competitiveness Initiative, including the publication, Meeting the Challenge of a Changing World: Strengthening Education for the 21st Century, can be found at:

Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Request Advances NCLB Implementation and Pinpoints Competitiveness

On February 6, 2006, President Bush announced a FY 2007 Department of Education budget request that reaffirms his historic commitment to close the achievement gap among our nation's students and provide a quality education for every child.  The President's budget includes $24.4 billion in funding for No Child Left Behind, up 4.6 percent from 2006 and up 40 percent since 2001.  Support for Title I grants to local educational agencies would increase to $12.7 billion, up 45 percent since the enactment of NCLB.  The budget also includes $380 million for new or increased funding for math and science programs aimed at giving students the skills they need to become competitive workers in the global economy of the 21st century.

In a budget season marked by the President's determination to support what works and cut the federal budget deficit in half by 2009, the department’s budget demonstrates an effort to eliminate underperforming programs while increasing resources that promote the competitiveness of our students and our nation.  To achieve this, President Bush requests $54.4 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Education in fiscal year 2007, a decrease of $3.1 billion, or 5.5 percent, from the 2006 level.  Much of the decrease is based on a 2006 funding level inflated by one-time costs for Hurricane Katrina relief. Even with the proposed reduction, discretionary appropriations for education would be up more than $12 billion, or 29 percent, since fiscal year 2001.

"This budget request soundly targets resources where they are needed most and working best," said Secretary Margaret Spellings. "It will enable us to continue to deliver results for all children under No Child Left Behind, and it tackles our vital priority to improve our global competitiveness by targeting achievement in math and science.  The President made all of this possible in a post-Katrina environment while upholding his commitment to reduce the deficit."

This year's 4.6 percent increase in NCLB spending includes increased resources under the American Competitiveness Initiative, promoting stronger instruction in math, science, and foreign language in early grades and more challenging coursework in high schools. Math Now programs giving students solid instruction in math, increased incentives to take and teach Advanced Placement courses, and programs to encourage foreign language instruction from K-12 and beyond will ensure that our students are better prepared to complete college and compete in the global workforce.

To bring high standards and accountability to our nation's high schools, the President proposes $1.475 billion in High School Reform formula grants to focus more attention on at-risk students struggling to reach grade level in reading and math.  The High School Reform initiative provides funding for activities such as dropout prevention and efforts to increase the rigor of the high school curriculum and require reading and math assessments in two additional high school grade levels to give educators better data to keep all students on track towards graduation.  Achieve, Inc., a bipartisan non-profit organization with the goal of helping states raise academic standards, found that only one out of five high school students say they were challenged by their high school academic expectations.  The nation's high schools must serve students better.

In this sixth year of funding for No Child Left Behind, states and school districts have more comprehensive data than ever before to identify which schools and districts are in need of improvement.  The FY 2007 request provides support to states to help turn around low-performing schools that are in need of improvement or restructuring.  The request maintains support for Title I grants to local educational agencies at $12.7 billion and, for the first time, the President proposes $200 million for the Title I School Improvement Grant Program for schools identified in need of improvement, corrective action, or restructuring.

These increases for new initiatives and priorities are possible through $3.5 billion in savings by eliminating funding for 42 duplicative or unnecessary programs.  The reductions reflect the President's priority to decrease the federal deficit and target taxpayer dollars to those programs with the greatest promise of improving student outcomes.

"Since the implementation of No Child Left Behind, we have seen that high standards, good teachers, and accountable schools help every student make great strides in performance," said Secretary Spellings.  "Yet as we survey the global landscape, it is clear that our international competitors have learned from our example.  To ensure that America's students become the groundbreaking researchers and leaders of tomorrow, we must transform the way we educate our children today.
"Cementing our status as a world leader in innovation requires stronger, earlier math and science instruction, rigorous coursework throughout a student's career and particularly in the crucial stage of high school, and the understanding of the world that starts with mastering a foreign language.  These simple, measurable steps will benefit generations of Americans for years to come.

"These new priorities will not undermine our long-standing commitments to help every child receive a quality education.  We are funding new Title I programs, proposing funding for dropout prevention, increasing special education grants to states, and giving parents more and better choices to stay involved in their children's education.  If this is a new day for American competitiveness, we live in the same era of unswerving excellence in education."

Among the highlights of the FY 2007 budget request are:

Preparing America's Students for Global Competition. $380 million under the American Competitiveness Initiative will strengthen math and science instruction in our elementary and secondary schools, including:

  • $125 million for the Math Now for Elementary School Students initiative, modeled after Reading First, to prepare K-7 students for more rigorous courses in later years;
  • $125 million for a new Math Now for Middle School Students initiative, based on the principles of the Striving Readers program, to support research-based math interventions in middle schools;
  • $10 million for a National Mathematics Panel to identify key mathematics content and instructional principles to create a research base for teachers and guide the implementation of the Math Now programs;
  • $5 million for an Evaluation of Mathematics and Science Programs that would determine which federal education programs are the most effective in raising achievement in math and science and how they can be coordinated to save taxpayer money;
  • A $90 million increase for Advanced Placement to train 70,000 additional teachers for math, science, and foreign language AP-IB courses and increase the number of students taking and passing AP-IB tests in those subjects; and
  • $25 million for the Adjunct Teacher Corps to encourage qualified professionals to teach high school courses with an emphasis on math and science.

Applying High Standards and Accountability to our High Schools. $1.475 billion in High School grants will support interventions and high school assessments in two additional grade levels.  The program aims to improve the academic achievement of those students at greatest risk of not meeting state academic standards or completing high school.

  • $100 million for the Striving Readers Program would significantly expand research-based interventions to improve the skills of students who are reading below grade level.

Increasing National Security and Global Competitiveness through Foreign Languages.  A $35 million increase, for a total of $57 million, for the education portion of the President's National Security Language Initiative is designed to significantly increase the number of American students and workers learning critical need foreign languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Russian.
Extending the Spectrum of Improvement Under No Child Left Behind.  With the key elements of assessments, accountability systems, choices for parents, and highly qualified teachers already in place, states and school districts require support to turn around schools identified as in need of improvement.  That support will include:

  • $12.7 billion for Title I Grants to local educational agencies (LEAs), the same as the 2006 level, to help state and local efforts meet the accountability and teacher quality requirements of NCLB;
  • $200 million for a new Title I School Improvement Grant program to help states build statewide support systems for LEA and school improvement to meet NCLB proficiency goals; and
  • $55 million for Statewide Data Systems, an increase of $30 million, to increase support for state longitudinal data systems, to improve graduation and dropout data and to help states comply with federal reporting requirements.

More Options for Parents.  While states have made improvements to implement NCLB choice options, there are still too few alternatives in many districts for parents seeking a quality education for their children.  The 2007 would increase this range with:

  • $100 million for a new America's Opportunity Scholarships for Kids program, which would provide parents of students enrolled in schools identified as in need of restructuring with more opportunities to transfer their children to a private school or obtain supplemental services.

Achievement for Students with Disabilities.  No Child Left Behind is helping to complete the work launched by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 30 years ago.  The FY 2007 request includes yet another increase for IDEA, including:

  • A $100 million increase for IDEA Part B State Grants, for a total of $10.7 billion—an increase of 69% since 2001.

Helping Students Afford Higher Education.  The Higher Education Reform Act reduces unnecessary subsidies and payment to lenders, guaranty agencies, and loan consolidators and makes more assistance available to students, including:

  • $850 million for Academic Competitiveness and National SMART Grants to provide grants of up to $1,300 to high-achieving first- and second-year students who have completed a rigorous high school curriculum.  Third- and fourth-year students majoring in math, science, technology, engineering, or critical foreign languages and maintaining a 3.0 average could receive up to $4,000 annually;
  • $17,500 per teacher in expanded teacher loan forgiveness for highly qualified math, science, and special education teachers serving challenging, low-income communities;
  • $12.7 billion for Pell Grants, to maintain the maximum award at $4,050 for 5.3 million students, an increase of 59,000 students over 2006.

Spending Taxpayer Dollars Wisely.  To save $3.5 billion in taxpayer dollars, the President's budget recommends eliminating 42 programs proven ineffective.

  • For information about improving accountability in programs across the federal government, please visit the new Web site,  With this Web site, taxpayers can see which programs work, which do not, and what the federal government is doing to improve. will improve not only transparency but also accountability in all federal programs.

Information about the Advanced Placement Incentive Program, Choices for Parents, the Math Now programs, and the National Security Language Initiative is available at

New U.S. Department of Education Study Finds Strong Link Between Challenging Studies and Degree Completion
Completing academically challenging course work in high school dramatically increases the likelihood of a student earning a bachelor's degree, according to a new U.S. Department of Education study released on February 14.  The study, The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion from High School Through College, found that the academic intensity of a high school curriculum is the strongest indicator of postsecondary degree completion, regardless of a student's major course of study.

"Students who enter college should be ready for college-level work, and it's the job of high schools and middle schools to prepare them for it," said U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.  "The president's proposed American Competitiveness Initiative would promote stronger instruction in key subjects such as math and science.  As the scientific data in this study show, strengthening curriculum now will pay dividends well into the future."

The President's American Competitiveness Initiative would support rigorous instruction in math, science, and foreign languages in the early grades and more challenging course work in high school.  Math Now programs, which aim to give younger students solid instruction in math, as well as increased incentives for high school students to take Advanced Placement courses, will ensure that the nation's students are better prepared to complete college and compete in a global workplace.

The Toolbox Revisited studies the High School Class of 1992 as it moved from high school to higher education and includes comparisons to a previous report, Answers in the Tool Box, which followed the High School Class of 1982 from high school through college.  Both national longitudinal studies had similar findings.

"This new data empirically confirms what educators already know: Challenging high school course work prepares students for the much tougher challenges that lie ahead," said Secretary Spellings. "It also helps colleges and universities by reducing the need for costly remedial education. The American Competitiveness Initiative is an educational win-win."

Through high school and college transcripts, the study examines students who attended a four-year college at any time, including students who started out in community colleges. The data on which the study is based cover a period of eight and a half years for degree completion—from high school graduation in spring 1992 until December 2000.  It is based on data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988.

The Toolbox Revisited is available at and will be available in hard copy on February 28 for free through ED Pubs at or by calling 1-877-4-EDPUBS or 1-877-576-7734 (TTY/TDD).


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Last Modified: 08/31/2007