A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Serving Private School Students With Federal Education Programs

Chapter 3.....Special Initiatives of the U.S. Department of Education

Partnership for Family Involvement in Education

The Partnership for Family Involvement in Education is a coalition of hundreds of family, school, business, community, and religious organizations committed to working together to encourage and enable families to be more meaningfully involved in their child's education. The mission of the Partnership is to promote children's learning through the development of family-school-community partnerships. The organizations that have come together within the framework of the Partnership support student learning to high standards. These partners represent a growing grassroots movement across the country.

The Partnership is organized into four areas:

The Partnership began with the support of national organizations representing each of these areas. It has grown to include local schools, family organizations, large and small businesses, and local community organizations and houses of worship. Private schools are urged to be a part of this Partnership by signing the Family/School Promise (see Appendix).

When they join the Partnership, partners improve their effectiveness by connecting with other groups and drawing on each other's strengths. The benefits of being part of a coordinated effort are key: Partners learn about and share the latest and best practices from other Partner organizations. Recognition is earned for organizations' visible commitments at the national, state, and local levels. Members of the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education receive Partnership publications and support on an on-going basis.

As the Partnership continues to grow, special projects support family involvement and student learning across communities and make it easy for partners to begin or enhance local projects.


READ*WRITE*NOW! is a national reading and writing initiative, with an intensive summer component, to encourage children's reading and writing with a reading partner 30 minutes a day. It is a national activity of the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education. The activities of READ*WRITE*NOW! supplement school reading and writing, helping to ensure that children's language skills grow significantly. The program also builds "reading for fun" time into every day to help children develop a healthy habit of daily reading. Schools and communities are urged to use READ*WRITE*NOW! to build a local partnership for reading. The program can be used as the basis for a local initiative or to supplement programs already in place. The READ*WRITE*NOW! basic kit is available free of charge (while supplies last) by calling 1-800-USA-LEARN. It is also available on the U.S. Department of Education's web site (http://www.ed.gov/Family/). Schools and community groups who wish to duplicate multiple copies are encouraged to do so by requesting a black and white copy from 1-800-USA-LEARN.

America Goes Back to School: Get Involved!

When families, educators, and communities work together, schools get better and students get the high-quality education they need to lead productive lives. Better education is everybody's business, and the America Goes Back to School initiative encourages everyone to make a commitment to make education better in their community. America Goes Back to School is an activity of the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education.

A special America Goes Back to School kit giving ideas and models for community involvement and support of education is available (while supplies last) by calling 1-800-USA-LEARN. It is also available on the U.S. Department of Education's web site (http://www.ed.gov/Family/agbts/).

This commitment to schools and student learning is a year-long commitment. However, many communities kick off their activities in the early fall of each school year. If you would like your activity included in a listing of America Goes Back to School activities, you may do so by calling 1-800-USA-LEARN.

Teacher Forum

The Teacher Forum seeks to shift the focus of the education reform movement from teachers as objects of reform to teachers as partners in reform by building teacher leadership capacity. Each year, the Department hosts the Teacher Forum which brings exemplary public and private school teachers to Washington, D.C. for two primary purposes:

Participants in the Teacher Forum include the current state-level Teachers of the Year, a teacher nominated by the Goals 2000 state planning teams, and teachers nominated by private school organizations.

Blue Ribbon Schools Program

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program, established by the secretary of education in 1982, serves three purposes. First, it identifies and recognizes outstanding public and private schools across the nation. Second, the program makes research-based effectiveness criteria available to all schools so that they can assess themselves and plan improvements. Third, the program encourages schools, both within and among themselves, to share information about best practices based on a common understanding of criteria related to educational success. To be recognized, a school must demonstrate a strong commitment to educational excellence for all students.

Public and private schools serving grades K-12 from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Defense Dependent Schools, may be nominated. Elementary and secondary schools are eligible to participate in alternate years. Public and private schools must have been in operation for at least 5 years before applying to the program. Although schools may receive national recognition more than once, they must wait a minimum of 5 school years before they may reapply.

Each state administers its own program for selecting public schools to be nominated to the national level. The Council for American Private Education nominates private schools. A national review panel evaluates the nominations and the most promising schools are recommended for site visits. The purpose of a visit is to verify the accuracy of the information the school has provided in its nomination form and to gather any additional information the panel has requested. Experienced educators serve as site visitors and submit their written report to the panel. The panel considers the report and makes recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Education, who then announces the names of the schools selected for recognition.

The review panel considers the following "Conditions of Effective Schooling" in each school:

The review panel also considers objective "Indicators of Success." This category includes:

Each year, a limited number of special emphases are designated. These represent areas where school performance needs to be greatly improved and where effective models are sought.

President's Education Awards Program

The President's Education Awards Program (previously known as the Presidential Academic Fitness Award Program or PAFA) was established by the U.S. Department of Education to recognize and honor outstanding educational achievement. The President's Education Awards Program rewards students for their academic effort and success. The program consists of two awards, the President's Award for Educational Excellence and the President's Award for Educational Improvement. Students qualifying for these honors will receive certificates signed by the president, the secretary of education, and the school principal.

President's Award for Educational Excellence

This award was established to encourage students to achieve high academic standards by recognizing and rewarding them for educational excellence. To be eligible for the President's Award for Educational Excellence, students at each award level (exit grades for elementary or middle school, junior high, or high school) must earn a grade point average of 90 on a 100-point scale and either achieve the 85th percentile or higher in math or reading on a standardized achievement test or receive recommendations from a teacher and one other staff member. If a school does not have letter grades, other assessment measures are considered.

President's Award for Educational Improvement

The purpose of this award is to recognize students who show outstanding educational growth, improvement, commitment or intellectual development in their academic subjects, but do not meet the criteria for the President's Award for Educational Excellence. This award recognizes a very different type of achievement. It is meant to encourage and reward students who work hard and give their best effort in school, in many cases in the face of special obstacles to learning. This award is given at the principal's discretion based on criteria developed at the school. The criteria should reflect the purpose of the award and must be applied fairly to all students.

Information on the President's Education Awards Program may be obtained by calling 1- 877-897-4784, 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. eastern time, Monday-Friday.

Presidential Scholars Program

The United States Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the president, to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was expanded to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts. Each year, up to 141 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students. The scholars are chosen on the basis of their accomplishments in many areas--academic and artistic success, leadership, and involvement in the school and the community.

Two paths of accomplishment lead toward earning the honor of Presidential Scholar. First, all high school seniors who are citizens of the United States are automatically considered for participation if, on or before November of each year, they have scored exceptionally well on either the SAT of the College Board or the ACT Assessment of the American College Testing Program and did not request that their scores remain private. Second, a group of students who participate in the Arts Recognition and Talent Search Program (ARTS), a national program for identification and recognition of young people who have demonstrated excellence in the arts, are identified for consideration. The ARTS Program is sponsored by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.

Approximately 2,700 students are identified as candidates and invited to apply to the program. Students may not be nominated, nor may they apply without invitation to the program.

Presidential Scholars are invited to Washington, D.C. to receive the Presidential Scholar Medallion and participate in several days of events.

For more information on the Presidential Scholars Program, write or call:

Presidential Scholars Program
U.S. Department of Education
600 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-3500

For more information on the Arts Recognition and Talent Search (ARTS) Program, write or call:

National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts
800 Brickell Avenue
Miami, FL 33131

Satellite Town Meeting

The Satellite Town Meeting is just what the name implies--a meeting, made possible by telecommunications technology, where thousands of people in sites all over the country get together and discuss the most critical and timely issues in education. Renowned national experts, local educators, and community leaders share ideas on what it takes to create successful school improvement programs and keep them going. They offer practical advice to schools and communities. Satellite Town Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month (except July, August and December) and broadcast from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. eastern time.

The Satellite Town Meeting is hosted by the secretary of education, and the audience includes parents, teachers, school administrators, business leaders, civic and community activists, college faculty, and many others. The secretary's guests have included teachers, principals, parents and community leaders from across the country, as well as well-known figures in American education. Viewers may call in questions or comments to a toll free number shown on the screen during the broadcast.

Satellite Town Meetings are accessible through "downlinks" in your local communities, or through broadcast by local cable access networks, public television stations, and major national cable outlets such as The Discovery Network and Mind Extension University. To find out the coordinates for downlinking or to inquire about cable broadcast of each month's show, call 1-800-USA-LEARN.

Past topics have included strengthening family and school partnerships, enhancing mathematics and science education, creating safer schools, charter schools, improving preschool programs, connecting schools to the information superhighway, expanding the arts in education, becoming a reading school, and creating school-to-work transition to prepare students for promising careers. Call 1-800-USA-LEARN for a listing of topics for the current school year.

The Information Resource Center

The Information Resource Center (IRC) acts as the main entry point for telephone inquiries to the Department of Education. The services provided by the IRC focus on fulfilling publication requests; providing directory information in locating an employee, office, or program within the Department; providing in-depth information on the Department's major programs and initiatives; and providing referrals to other Department staff for callers with questions that go beyond the expertise of the IRC.

The public may access the IRC by calling 1-800-USA-LEARN. Personal service is available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. Automated services, such as fax on demand (Flashfax), Internet instructions, and audio descriptions of the Department's major programs and initiatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The National Library of Education

The new National Library of Education (NLE) is the largest federally funded library in the world devoted solely to education. It is an expansion of the former U.S. Department of Education Research Library and houses onsite more than 200,000 books and about 750 periodical subscriptions in addition to studies, reports, Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) microfiche, and CD-ROM databases. The library also houses special collections, such as rare books and early American textbooks.

The NLE is the federal government's one-stop center for information and referral on education. Timely information is available on programs and activities of the U.S. Department of Education, ERIC resources and services, Department of Education publications, education-related materials from other federal agencies, services and resources available through research institutes, and statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics.

You can contact NLE as follows:

         Library Administration            202/219-2289          Reference/Research/Statistics     202/219-1970           outside of Washington, D.C.     1-800-424-1616          Internet                          Library@inet.ed.gov          Circulation/Interlibrary loan     202/219-2238                                           Libloans@inet.ed.gov          Legislative Reference Service     202/401-1045          Technology Resources Center       202/219-1699          ACCESS ERIC                       1-800-LET-ERIC 

Internet users may access and download U.S. Department of Education resources and information, including legislation, publication summaries and full texts, grant information, datasets, and phone directories by--

World Wide Web browser (http://www.ed.gov)
Gopher client (discontinued)
FTP client (discontinued)
E-mail questions about the servers to webmaster@ed.gov

The Regional Educational Laboratory Program

The Regional Educational Laboratory Program is the U.S. Department of Education's largest research and development investment designed to help educators, policy makers, and communities improve schools and help all student attain their full potential. Administered by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, the network of 10 regional labs works to ensure that those involved in educational improvement at the local, state and regional levels have access to the best available research and knowledge from practice. The Labs also want to ensure that information about exemplary and promising programs as well as other important lessons about school reform developed or learned in one site can be appropriately applied elsewhere.

A listing of the regional labs and their specialty areas can be found at the National Network of Regional Educational Laboratories homepage.


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This page last updated on 21 December 1998 (bdg)