ED Review (10/07/05)

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  • Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 12:17:22 -0400

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ED REVIEW October 7, 2005 ...a bi-weekly update on U.S. Department of Education activities relevant to the Intergovernmental and Corporate community and other stakeholders

HURRICANES KATRINA AND RITA (http://hurricanehelpforschools.gov/)

In recent hearings before the Congress, Assistant Secretary of Elementary
and Secondary Education Henry Johnson
(http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/2005/09/09222005.html) and Secretary
Spellings (http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/2005/09/09292005.html) testified
on the agency's response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Johnson (speaking
just days before Rita made landfall) deftly outlined the flexibility and
waivers granted to the most affected states as well as reiterated the
administration's funding proposal for K-12 students, while Spellings
(speaking post-Rita) announced two "temporary options" on certain aspects of
adequate yearly progress (AYP).  States may adopt one or both.

Option 1: Exercise Existing Natural Disaster Provisions of NCLB.
The No Child Left Behind Act allows a school or school district to delay,
for up to one year, its school improvement timeline if the reason for not
making AYP is "due to exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances, such as a
natural disaster..."  Consequently, any state or district with schools (1)
that are located in the "major disaster" areas declared by President Bush
[Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas] and (2) that have been
closed for a significant period of time as a result of damage from
Hurricanes Katrina or Rita may implement this delay for the 2005-06 school
year without a federal waiver.  In addition, the Secretary is willing to
consider waivers for other schools and districts that have been adversely
affected by the hurricanes due to enrolling large numbers of displaced
students and/or other factors.

Option 2: Establish a Separate Subgroup for Displaced Students.  For
the 2005-06 school year, the Secretary is willing to consider waiver
requests from states for schools or districts heavily impacted by the
hurricanes that would allow them to establish a separate subgroup of
displaced students for NCLB accountability and reporting purposes.  (If a
waiver is granted, the state could decide not to include those students in
any other subgroup.)  Then, once test results are in at the end of the
school year, the Department, in conjunction with the affected states, will
make decisions about school and district accountability.  Having separately
identified achievement information will facilitate informed decisions about
how such students performed and how, and to what extent, accountability
determinations should be applied next year.

Notably, under either option, states must "comply with current NCLB
requirements for assessment, accountability, and reporting.  All students,
including displaced students, must be tested on state assessments, and
states must ensure that their policies help schools and districts meet the
AYP target of testing at least 95 percent of students."  FOR MORE

Lawmakers are still debating various supplemental funding proposals for
education, but some federal education aid is now on the way to the Gulf
Coast.  First, Louisiana was awarded a $20.9 million grant to reopen charter
schools damaged by the hurricanes, create 10 new charter schools, and expand
existing charter schools to accommodate students displaced by hurricane
damage (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2005/09/09302005.html).
Second, last week, President Bush signed into law the Assistance for
Individuals with Disabilities Affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Act,
granting affected states access to $25.9 million in federal funds for
vocational rehabilitation services without the states having to provide
matching funds (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2005/10/10032005.html).

Also, the Department's Hurricane Help for Schools web site
(http://hurricanehelpforschools.gov/schools/) continues to make "matches"
(as of October 6, 315!) between schools requesting supplies and companies
and organizations looking to help, and the USA Freedom Corps is encouraging
students, parents, and educators to visit
http://www.usafreedomcorpskids.gov/ to find ideas on how youth can help
those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

NCLB UPDATE (http://www.ed.gov/nclb/)
Although she opened her remarks with hurricane-related news, the primary
purpose of the Secretary's appearance before the House Education and the
Workforce Committee was to provide an update on No Child Left Behind
implementation.  "Thanks to our nation's latest education report card, we
now have proof that high standards and accountability are paying off," she
said.  "Scores are at all-time highs for African-American and Hispanic
students, especially in the early grades.  We've made more progress within
the last five years than in the previous 30 combined.  Clearly, we are on
the right track....  At the same time, I have been listening to the concerns
of parents, educators, and policymakers closest to our students....  Nobody
I know has ever passed a perfect law.  Implementing public policy is an
organic process."  As proof, the rest of her testimony describes the steps
the Department has already taken (e.g., pilot agreements for supplemental
educational services) or will take to make the law "sensible and workable."

One day earlier (September 28), the Secretary discussed the need for high
school reform at the National Association of Manufacturers' Board of

The Department has placed all of its No Child Left Behind fact sheets on one
web site: http://www.ed.gov/news/opeds/factsheets/.  Among the categories:
academic subjects, information for parents, and material on student

The next "Education News Parents Can Use" (October 18, 8:00-9:00 ET)
broadcast will explore what can be done to keep children safe -- before,
during, and after school -- in the face of a natural catastrophe or other
crisis.  Carefully drawing from the nation's experience with Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita, the program will highlight the ways that local, state, and
federal agencies, as well as teachers, principals, law enforcement
officials, mental health professionals, and others, can respond when
children face a crisis. Don't miss the special profile of a Florida school
that is effectively serving more than 100 students displaced by Hurricane
http://www.ed.gov/news/av/video/edtv/.  (You can watch live and archived
webcasts at http://www.connectlive.com/events/ednews/.)

Also: Early next week, the Department will release a brochure, based on
discussions with some three dozen experts who work with students, with
practical information for parents, students, teachers, coaches, counselors,
and administrators who are coping with the aftermath of a natural disaster.
This release will coincide with a series of meetings in the Southeast with
teachers and principals in schools that have received displaced students.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://hurricanehelpforschools.gov/.

In a recent Federal Register notice, the Department modified the eligibility
criteria for the Striving Readers program so that states are eligible to
apply on behalf of one or more school districts and clarified the grades
that must be targeted and students who must be served by the program's
school-level and targeted intervention components.  And, on October 13, the
Department will conduct a briefing via conference call.  FOR MORE
INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/programs/strivingreaders/.
(Note: The previously announced September 14 notice of intent to apply for
the grant is non-binding.  The deadline for all applications is November 14.)

Throughout this week, Secretary Spellings has been representing the United
States at the 33rd United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) general conference in Paris.  (First Lady Laura Bush
is the nation's official ambassador but was unable to attend the session
this year.)  UNESCO's ambitious "Education for All" campaign calls for
universal primary education by 2015; a 50 percent expansion in adult
literacy; and increased opportunity for "excluded and marginalized"
populations.  FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.unesco.org/.

Also: Planning is underway for the agency's sixth annual International
Education Week, November 14-18 (coinciding with American Education Week).
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://iew.state.gov/.

Tired of dated data?  The National Center for Education Statistics'
"Projections of Education Statistics to 2014" projects key statistics, such
as student enrollment and expenditures, for elementary and secondary schools
and degree-granting institutions.  FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO

"No Child Left Behind is provoking a lot of discussion about how we can best
help the most students.  We are learning from our experiences and from the
research as it develops.  Our ongoing conversations about remaining issues
are right and appropriate.  If No Child Left behind had not become law, I'm
not sure we would be having these conversations."
-- Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (9/29/05)

On October 20, the White House and several Cabinet agencies will host a
conference in Milwaukee to help faith-based and other community
organizations learn more about the President's Faith-Based and Community
Initiative.  The conference is free, but pre-registration is required.
Please register by October 14.  FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO

The 2006 National Conference on Aviation and Space Education is set for
October 19-21 in Arlington, Virginia.  FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO

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