[ECP] ED Review (10/12/07)

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  • Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2007 06:00:00 -0400


October 12, 2007

...a bi-weekly update on U.S. Department of Education activities relevant to the Intergovernmental and Corporate community and other stakeholders


September 19-21, Secretary Spellings participated in a Back to School bus tour across Ohio and Indiana. On Day 1, in Cleveland, the Secretary announced the "Empowering Parents School Box" (http://www.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/schoolbox/), a resource to help families better prepare their students for academic success, as well as explored the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (where she learned about science by singing a Stevie Wonder song) and hosted a live National Parent Town Hall. "No Child Left Behind puts a necessary focus on reading and math -- the gateway skills to all other learning," she said at the town hall meeting. "It also arms parents with the information they need to be smart consumers and strong advocates for their children. I have yet to meet a parent who volunteered his or her child to be the one who was left behind." On Day 2, the Secretary visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside of Dayton (her assigned codename: Starbuck) and Withrow High School in Cincinnati, where she revealed new features of the Department's FAFSA4caster (http://www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov/), an online tool which offers students an early estimate of eligibility for federal aid. On Day 3, in Indianapolis, the Secretary unveiled two new guides in the "Innovations in Education" series -- "K-8 Charter Schools: Closing the Achievement Gap" (http://www.ed.gov/admins/comm/choice/charterk-8/) and "Supporting Charter School Excellence Through Quality Authorizing" (http://www.ed.gov/nclb/choice/charter/authorizing/) -- and toured the city's Children's Museum (her own words: "No dinos left behind!").

On October 2, Secretary Spellings named 287 schools as 2007 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools. The Blue Ribbon program recognizes high performing schools (schools whose students, regardless of background, perform in the top 10% on their state assessments [public] or nationally normed assessments [private]) and dramatically improving schools (schools whose students, at least 40% of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, dramatically improved on tests to score in at least the top 40% statewide). Chief State School Officers nominate public schools. The Council for American Private Education nominates private schools. Of the schools nominated by each state, at least one-third must have more than 40% of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and all recipients must meet No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements, as defined by their states. The schools will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., November 12-1

Also, congratulations to the New York City Department of Education, winner of the 2007 Broad Prize for Urban Education. The nation's largest school system bested four finalists: Bridgeport (CT), Long Beach, Miami-Dade County, and Northside (TX). New York will receive $500,000 in college scholarships.

Other No Child Left Behind-related resources:
NCLB Success Stories from Education News Parents Can Use (http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/reauth/successstories/) "Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007039) "Encouraging Girls in Math and Science" (http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/20072003.pdf) "Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning" (http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/20072004.pdf) "Giving Parents Options: Strategies for Informing Parents and Implementing School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services under No Child Left Behind (http://www.ed.gov/admins/comm/choice/options/report.html)

This week, President Bush and Secretary Spellings continued to promote reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act at local events. On October 9, the President and Secretary met with civil rights leaders and other advocates for disadvantaged children at the White House. "We just had a meaningful discussion about our joint commitment to closing an achievement gap that exists in America," the President said. "As we move forward, we will continue to welcome new ideas. And, I appreciate the ideas I heard today. Yet, there can be no compromise on the basic principle: every child must learn to read and do math at, or above, grade level. And there can be no compromise on the need to hold schools accountable to make sure we achieve that goal" (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/10/20071009-5.html). On October 10, Secretary Spellings joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman at the new T. C. Williams High School in suburban Virginia. "At a time when less than half of high school graduates are prepared for college-level math and science, it's time to increase expectations and improve the way these subjects are taught in our classrooms," Secretary Spellings explained. "Solid math and science skills are becoming increasingly essential in the new knowledge, so it's time to ramp up the rigor and challenge our students to succeed" (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/10/10102007.html).

Note: The EnergySmart Schools web site (http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/energysmartschools/) includes more than 350 lesson plans and activities on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

NAEP 2007

On September 25, the non-partisan National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) released national and state-by-state results of the 2007 Nation's Report Card in reading and math, highlighting fourth- and eighth-grade achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Some findings:

Math --
Fourth- and eighth-graders scored higher than in all previous assessment years, and the proportion of students performing at or above the "Basic" and "Proficient" achievement levels has increased significantly over the last 17 years. At both grades, white, black, and Hispanic students demonstrated a better understanding compared to all previous assessment years. And, the white-black achievement gap narrowed at grade 4 when compared to 1990 and at grade 8 when compared to 2005. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia improved their scores at both the fourth- and eighth-grade levels from 2005 to 2007, while no state showed a decline in achievement.

Reading --
Fourth-graders scored higher than in all previous assessment years. Eighth-graders scored higher than in 1992 and 2005. At both grades, white, black, and Hispanic students demonstrated a better understanding compared to 1992. But, just the white-black achievement gap at grade 4 had narrowed compared to 1992 and 2005. Three states and the District improved their scores at both the fourth- and eighth-grade levels from 2005 to 2007, while no states showed a decline in fourth-grade achievement and only two states showed a decline in eighth-grade achievement.

"Student achievement is on the rise," said the Secretary upon the release. "No Child Left Behind is working. It's doable, reasonable, and necessary. Any efforts to weaken accountability would fly in the face of rising achievement." http://nationsreportcard.gov/. (Several fact sheets may be found at http://www.ed.gov/nclb/accountability/achieve/report-card2007.html, and state-by-states profiles are posted at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/.)

Note: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) "Education at a Glance" (http://www.oecd.org/edu/eag2007/) provides a comparable, up-to-date array of indicators on education among OECD's 30 member nations and partners. The main areas covered are participation and achievement, public and private spending, conditions for students and teachers, and the state of lifelong learning.

NCLB City and State Cheaters


The Department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) has submitted to Congress its 27th annual report on the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The report consists of two volumes. The first section of Volume I focuses on the children and students being served under IDEA, including trends in numbers and percentages of infants, toddlers, preschool, and school-age children served; declassification of elementary school-age students; and characteristics of secondary students served for emotional disturbance. The second section has state-level data profiles, and the third section consists of selected rank-ordered state data tables. Volume II contains extensive appendix tables of state-reported data required under IDEA, including the number of infants and toddlers receiving early intervention services disaggregated by race/ethnicity; the number of children receiving special education services disaggregated by disability category and race/ethnicity; and graduation and dropout data. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/about/reports/annual/osep/2005/parts-b-c/.

Note: OSERS's updated "Disability Employment 101" booklet (http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/products/employmentguide/) presents information on finding qualified workers with disabilities, putting disability and employment research into practice, and modeling what other businesses have done to successfully integrate those with disabilities into the workforce.


In early September, the Secretary announced that the national student loan default rate fell from FY 2004's 5.1% to 4.6% -- just off the record-low rate of 4.5% (FY 2003) and 79% less than the all-time high of 22.4% (FY 1990). Moreover, all of the nation's colleges and universities have default rates low enough to remain eligible for federal financial aid programs. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/defaultmanagement/cdr.html.

On September 27, President Bush signed into law the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (H.R. 2669), authorizing the largest increase in student financial aid since the GI Bill. The legislation increases funding for the federal Pell Grant program -- which, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid -- by $11.4 billion over the next five years, gradually raising the maximum annual award from $4,310 in 2007 to $5,400 in 2012. "One of the best ways to make higher education affordable is through Pell Grants," the President stated. "Pell Grants send an important message to students in need: if you work hard, and you stay in school, and you make the right choices, the federal government is going to stand with you." Today, five million lower-income students receive Pell Grants annually. In addition, the legislation makes it easier to repay loans by: Cutting interest rates on new, subsidized Stafford loans to undergraduate students. (From the current 6.8%, the rate would be reduced to 6.0% in July 2008, 5.6% in July 2009, 4.5% in July 2010, and 3.4% in July 2011. In July 2012, the rate would revert back to 6.8%.) Capping both subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loan repayments to no more than 15% of discretionary income. After 25 years, any remaining balances would be cancelled. Forgiving the loans of borrowers working public sector jobs (such as emergency management, government, law enforcement, public education, public health) after 10 years of service and repayments.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/09/20070927-1.html. (President Bush's remarks are available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/09/20070927-3.html. Secretary Spellings' statement is posted at http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/09/09272007a.html.)

Also, Undersecretary of Education Sara Martinez Tucker is conducting a national college listening tour, to hear directly from students about the challenges they face in gaining access to and succeeding in college. She will meet with students in California, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, New York, and Texas.

Other higher education-related resources:
College Navigator (http://collegenavigator.ed.gov/), the successor to the College Opportunities Online (COOL) web site designed to help students, parents, and high school counselors get information about 7,000 institutions of higher education in the U.S. "Only a Dream" public service campaign (http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/onlyadream.html) "Postsecondary Institutions in the U.S.: Fall 2006 and Degrees and Other Awards Conferred in 2005-06" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007166)

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The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (October 16, 8:00-9:00 ET) will discuss "what works" in violence reduction and the growing body of evidence about the links between violence, bullying, mental health, and academic achievement. The Virginia Tech University tragedy, like the shootings at American middle and high schools, shocked the country and caused parents and educators to wonder how school campuses -- traditionally, safe havens for learning -- could become so violent. Actually, despite these highly visible events, the vast majority of the nation's students are safe at school. Statistics indicate that homicides of school-age children were about 50 times more likely to occur away from school than at school, and, every year over the last decade, serious violent victimization rates were lower at school. Still, as long as any student is threatened, there is work to be done. The broadcast will spotlight a variety of resources to assist educators -- and help the parents they serve -- in developing and improving plans to mitigate violent behavior, identifying behaviors that lead to violence in youth, and ensuring the safety and prosperity of America's children. http://www.ed.gov/news/av/video/edtv/. (You can watch live and archived webcasts at http://www.connectlive.com/events/ednews/.)

Regarding Virginia Tech, the Department's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) recently awarded the institution a $960,685 grant to assist with recovery efforts and begin to develop a model for assessing and responding to at-risk behaviors in a higher education setting. After the April 16 shootings, Virginia Tech submitted an unsolicited proposal to OSDFS for national program/federal activities funds. These discretionary funds support leadership projects designed to prevent violence and drug abuse among all education levels.

Also, as a participating member of the President's Interagency Task Force to combat human trafficking, OSDFS has developed a fact sheet for schools related to the trafficking of children. Contrary to popular assumption, cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and some U.S. territories.

Other safety-related resources:
Emergency Response and Crisis Management Technical Assistance Center (http://ercm.ed.gov/), with "Helpful Hints" on improving emergency management practices within school communities "Crime, Violence, Discipline, and Safety in U.S. Public Schools: 2005-06" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007361) "Public School Practices for Violence Prevention and Reduction: 2003-04" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007010)


Below is a short list of new grant awards, particularly in the area of assessment development: Almost $7.5 million to six states to explore ways to implement better assessments of student progress, beyond the testing procedures required under No Child Left Behind (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/09/09252007b.html) More than $14 million to 27 states to help them meet requirements for students with disabilities under No Child Left Behind and IDEA (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/10/10092007.html) $2.45 million to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) to provide reliable and valid measures for assessing student learning at the higher education level (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/09/09282007.html) More than $3.5 million to 22 grantees to plan, design, and open new charter schools (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/09/09262007.html) $100 million to 41 school districts in 17 states to establish new magnet schools or expand existing magnet programs (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/09/09272007.html)

Note: In a September 27 letter to Chief State School Officers (listed at http://www.ed.gov/policy/fund/guid/gposbul/lateliquidationmemos.html), the Department's Chief Financial Officer issued new guidance for the "late liquidation" of federal education funds.


On September 27, President Bush signed an Executive Order to strengthen adult education in the U.S. Secretary Spellings has been tasked with leading an Interagency Adult Education Working Group. By bringing together all relevant federal agencies, the group aims to strengthen existing programs and improve adult participation in postsecondary education. "College access is not just about access for high school students. It's about access for adult learners," the Secretary said. "When 90% of the fastest growing jobs in America require a postsecondary credential or training, we have a duty to educate those of all ages and backgrounds to meet the needs of our new knowledge-based economy."

Note: To support states and colleges that are working to increase adults' access to an advanced credential, the Secretary also announced four grants totaling more than $2.8 million from the Department's Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE). Ready for College grants will allow community college systems in four states to work with 25 local adult education programs to improve college readiness for out-of-school youth.

The National Mathematics Advisory Panel's ninth meeting is October 23 and 24 in Phoenix.

On November 5 and 6, the White House and several Cabinet agencies (including Education) will host a conference in Indianapolis, to help social service organizations learn more about the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiative. This conference will share information about the federal grant process, as well as basic legal responsibilities that come with federal aid. Special emphasis will be placed on opportunities for partnership at the state and local level. The conference is free, but pre-registration is required. Please register online by October 29.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will be exhibiting at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities' annual conference in Chicago (October 20-22) and the National Future Farmers of America's national convention in Indianapolis (October 24-27). If you are attending either of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based organization that supports education entrepreneurship, is initiating a fellowship program, which will afford talented individuals with the opportunity to develop and launch initiatives to transform public education. An inaugural cohort of four entrepreneurs will begin their two-year fellowship next spring and receive salary, benefits, travel resources, and a customized package of support. Applications, with a statement of intent, are due by January 15, 2008. Fellowships will be awarded by May 1, 2008. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.themindtrust.org/

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