Weekly Update-December 16, 2011

On December 16, 2011, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston

Announcements

FY 2012 Appropriations

The second FY 2012 CR expires today (12/16). Late Wednesday night, the House filed its FY 2012 omnibus bill (H.R. 3671) that includes the Labor-HHS-Education bill and cuts education funding by 0.189% or $86 million below the current amount through across-the-board program cuts. Despite this cut, NASSP is pleased to see increases for Title I (by $60 million) and IDEA (by $100 million), and can declare a victory in the $160 million allotted to the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program whose funding was zeroed out in 2011. Additionally, a Congressional Quarterly article notes that “The spending bill also would continue, and in one case even boost, the Obama administration’s competitive education grants that the previous GOP appropriations bill had zeroed out. However, while Race to the Top would continue under the omnibus spending bill, it would be cut by more than 20 percent from the fiscal 2011 level, from $689 million to $550 million.”

It is possible that education funding could be cut by another 1.83% or $1.3 billion if another House bill (H. Con. Res. 94) passes to offset disaster aid. The passage of both bills is dependent on Congress reaching a bipartisan deal on the extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut. For more on program funding amounts in the bill, go here.

Also, despite official notices to federal employees warning them of a potential government shutdown, it appears that Congress may indeed reach a deal. According to an article from Congressional Quarterly, “It appeared that congressional leaders were gambling on swift votes to clear the megabus and send it to the president. There were no plans for passing a short-term stopgap spending measure, even though the continuing resolution (PL 112-55) that has been keeping the government running will expire Friday. If the efforts to pass the megabus do not succeed, Congress might quickly act to extend the date on the current CR and buy a few more days to complete fiscal 2012 spending.”

Legislation

ATTAIN Act

On 12/8 Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard introduced H.R. 3614, the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation Act of 2011 (ATTAIN Act), supported by NASSP. The ATTAIN Act would amend the current “Enhancing Education Through Technology” program in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and would authorize up to $1 billion in annual funding for teacher training, education technology hardware and software, and student support for technological literacy. NASSP encourages members to contact their legislators to support this bill.

FAST Act

NASSP continues to support the Fixing America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act sponsored by Sen. Brown (D-OH) and Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) and encourages members to contact their legislators to support this bill. For more about the bill including a website dedicated to it, see my blog from this week.

Student Non-Discrimination Act

NASSP supports this bill (S. 555) introduced in the Senate by Sen. Franken (D-MN) in March and carrying 34 cosponsors to date. Quoting from a support letter NASSP sent to all Senators last week, “Federal law guarantees students’ rights to be free from discrimination based on race, gender, religion, disability, and national origin, but no such protection is extended to students based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (“SNDA”) would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition against this type of discrimination and harassment in public elementary and secondary schools across the country. SNDA would provide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBT”) students with long overdue and much needed explicit federal protections against discrimination and harassment. The legislation also protects students who associate with LGBT people, including students with LGBT parents and friends.” NASSP encourages members to contact their Senators to support this bill.

 

News

Duncan’s Prediction of 82% Failing AYP This Year Is Far Above Actual Percentage

The Center on Education Policy released a report finding that the percentage of schools predicted to have failed AYP during the 2010-2011 school year is 48%, far below Secretary Duncan’s alarming prediction of 82% that he cited during a Congressional hearing earlier this year. From an Education Week article published yesterday, “Duncan said yesterday in a statement that even though the numbers are different, the message is still the same. ‘Whether it’s 50 percent, 80 percent, or 100 percent of schools being incorrectly labeled as failing, one thing is clear: No Child Left Behind is broken,’ he said. ‘That’s why we’re moving forward with giving states flexibility from the law in exchange for reforms that drive student success.’” Read the rest of the article here.

Nine States Win Race to the Top Early Learning Grants

The Department of Education announced this morning that nine states will share $500 million in Race to the Top Early Learning Grants. The nine states are: California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington. Of these states, the following five are repeat Race to the Top winners: Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. In total, 37 states applied for this grant. According to an Education Week article, “The grants are made possible through an additional $700 million Congress set aside for the Obama administration’s Race to the Top brand in the fiscal 2011 budget deal reached earlier this year. While $500 million went to early learning, the other $200 million was offered to the nine finalists that did not win last year’s $4 billion general education-reform competition. The finalists, seven of which chose to apply for a small piece of the $200 million consolation prize, had to pick a part of their original application to pursue, with a special emphasis on the STEM subjects. Those winners could be announced as early as next week.” Read the rest of the article here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2011/12/states_win_race_to_top_early_l.html.

Report Finds U.S. Instructional Time Similar To Those in High-Performing Countries

From a press release from the National School Boards Association: “Most U.S. schools require at least as much or more instructional time as other countries, even high-performing countries like Finland, Japan, and Korea; according to a new report on instructional time released by the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education.

The report, “Time in School,” measured the minimum number of hours of instruction per year (also known as compulsory hours) countries require their public schools to provide in a formal classroom setting. In the U.S., most states require between 175 and 180 days of school and/or between 900 and 1,000 hours of instructional time per year, depending on the grade level.”

Jim Hull, the Center’s Senior Policy Analyst and author of the report, “stressed that the relationship between time and student learning is not about the amount of time spent in school. Rather, it is how effectively that time is used. The report also showed that there is no relationship between simply requiring more time and increased achievement. The data showed that a number of countries that require fewer hours of instruction outperform the U.S., while the U.S. performs as well as or better than some other countries that require more hours of instruction.”

Access the report here: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Time-in-school-How-does-the-US-compare.

Research

A new study on English Language Learners from the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing finds that the longer students are classified as English-language learners, the greater the likelihood that they will drop out of school. And English-language learners who are reclassified as English proficient in earlier grades tend to be similar to non-English learners when it comes to achievement and dropout rates. Read an article summary of the study with a link to the report here.

Resources

Webinar on Principal Evaluation

Several organizations are leading efforts to improve principal evaluations, including a venture led jointly by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The groups are working on a plan to help schools and districts create evaluation instruments that focus on promoting the qualities they believe strong principals should have. This webinar talks about the research on the current state of principal evaluations and how experts believe they should be changed for the better. View the PPT from this webinar here: http://www.edweek.org/media/2011-12-13-principalevaluations.pdf

Insider’s Guide to 11 States’ NCLB Waiver Plans

Don’t have time to read through all 11 states’ plans but want to learn what they involve and stay informed about the waiver process? Check out this resource from EdWeek here.

American Jobs Act Investments Report and Interactive Maps

The Obama Administration on Thursday released a report, Education and the American Jobs Act: Creating Jobs through Investments in Our Nation’s Schools, and interactive maps that highlight estimated benefits that states and local school districts would receive if Congress acts to pass the American Jobs Act.  The maps and downloadable data sets behind them, for every state and school district in the nation, can be found here: http://data.ed.gov/american-jobs-act And the full report can be found at this link: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/aja_ed_state_by_state_report_final.pdf

 

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