Weekly Update-March 30

On March 30, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


Austere FY 2013 House Budget Resolution Passes on Near Party-Line Vote

Yesterday, Chairman Ryan (R-WI) of the House Budget Committee succeeded in gaining passage through the House of his FY 2013 budget resolution. The vote was nearly strictly partisan, with all Democrats voting against and all but 10 Republicans voting for it. Looking at its effect on education funding, Ryan’s budget would cut funding for non-defense discretionary spending (which includes education) by over 5% for FY 2013, but that cut would jump to a 19% cut for FY 2014, which would be devastating for schools. As you would imagine, NASSP strongly opposes this budget and continues to work with our coalition partner Committee for Education Funding to voice our opposition to the drastic cuts to education this budget makes at a time when we need to be investing in education.

The White House also opposes this budget and wrote an analysis detailing its concerns, including this excerpt: “The House budget once again fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility. It would shower the wealthiest few Americans with an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers. What’s worse is that all of these tax breaks would be paid for by undermining Medicare and the very things we need to grow our economy and the middle class – things like education, basic research, and new sources of energy. And instead of strengthening Medicare, the House budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning the guarantee of retirement security into a voucher that will shift higher and higher costs to seniors over time”

The Democratic alternative budget proposed by House Budget Committee Ranking Member Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) failed, as did other proposals put forth by the Congressional Black Caucus and others. NASSP will continue to keep you updated on all budget and appropriations news as it unfolds.


9 States Receive 2011 School Improvement Grant Funds

From a U.S. Department of Education press release: “U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that nine states will receive funding to turn around their persistently lowest achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program.

The award provides new funding as part of $535 million included in the fiscal year 2011 budget and made available to states under the program. In fiscal year 2009, states received a total of $3.5 billion for the SIG program.

To learn more about the School Improvement Grants program, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html or the Department’s Office of School Turnaround Web site at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/ost/index.html.

Find out more—see the press release for each state:”

On a related note, read Secretary Duncan’s speech at the recent Grad Nation summit event on how school turnarounds are succeeding: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2012/03/school-turnarounds-are-succeeding/

FY 2012 Investing in Innovation Grants Now Available

The U.S. Department of Education this week announced that 2012 funds are now available for Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-up and Validation Grants. Applications for the Scale-up and Validation grants are due May 29. Pre-applications for i3 Development grants are due April 9. Peer reviewers will determine the highest rated applicants in all three categories. As stated in the Department’s press release, “Grants of up to $25 million, termed “Scale-up” grants, will be awarded to projects with strong evidence of improving student achievement, and up to $15 million in “Validation” grants will be available to those with moderate evidence.” The Department plans to announce highest rated applicants in the fall. Each potential grantee will then be required to secure a private sector match of 15% for Development grants, 10% for Validation grants, and 5% for Scale-up grants in order to receive an i3 award. Awards will be announced no later than December 31, 2012. Find out more here: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/2012-funds-now-available-third-round-investing-innovation-i3-scale-and-validatio



Secretary Duncan and Congress Clash Over Spending Priorities

At a hearing this past Wednesday of the House Education and Workforce committee, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan served as the lone witness to testify on the President’s FY 2013 spending priorities for education. Chairman John Kline (R-MN) in his opening statement wasted no time to express his grave disappointment that the President proposed no increase for IDEA state grants in order to move closer to the 40% federal share toward IDEA full funding that Congress has promised but never delivered on. Kline then commented that while the President doesn’t propose increase funding for IDEA, he can somehow find billions of dollars to put toward his competitive grants programs like Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhoods. Duncan was left to defend the value of these programs and the excellent reforms the administration claims have occurred as a result of these grants. However, the overall message from most committee members to Duncan seemed to be that they wanted to see more funding first for the foundational formula grant programs like Title I and IDEA that go to all eligible students over more funding for competitive grant programs like Race to the Top. Read an Education Week article summarizing the hearing here, or watch the webcast and read Duncan’s testimony and the Chairman’s opening statement here.


NASSP Supports Senator Harkin’s College and Career Ready Classrooms Act

On March 28, 2012 NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti sent a letter to Sen. Harkin (D-IA) in support of the College and Career Ready Classrooms Act, which Sen. Harkin introduced as part of the Rebuild America Act. In an excerpt from an Education Week article, “Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, is proposing a sweeping effort to “rebuild America’s middle class,” which contains several elements that most teachers and school districts will cheer. (Of course, given the political dynamics in Congress these days, no one should get his hopes up.)

First, his bill would provide $20 billion in formula grants to modernize, renovate, and repair early-learning facilities, K-12 schools, and community colleges.

Second, it would attempt to rebuild the ranks of public employees, which suffered when cash-strapped state and local governments had to lay off police, firefighters, and teachers in the wake of the Great Recession. His legislation would provide $60 billion total over three years to hire teachers. (That is more than the $48.6 billion State Fiscal Stablization Fund from the economic-stimulus package of 2009!)

Third, it would ensure the right to join a union, so that “all workers have a right to join together and stand up for fair wages and working conditions.”

And fourth, it would set aside $2 billion a year for five years, through 2017, for grants to states to improve professional development for teachers so they are better prepared to teach college- and career-ready standards. This comes at a time when most states have adopted common standards, but are moving to the more-difficult stage of implementing them at the classroom level.”

NASSP’s letter of support states, “The College and Career Ready Classrooms Act would authorize a competitive grant program to support local school districts in the successful implementation of college- and career-ready standards. In providing professional development opportunities for teachers and other school staff, we are pleased that the bill would require in-service activities for school administrators that support instructional leadership around the implementation of these standards. Local implementation strategies would also support the use of technology to personalize instruction and to enhance educators’ own professional learning and ensure coordination with pre-service teacher preparation programs.”


NASSP is pleased to see a proposed investment of resources and policies toward ensuring college and career readiness, and we will keep you updated on the bill with its progress and which members of Congress sign on as cosponsors. We have heard that Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will introduce this bill on the House side. Read the rest of the Education Week article on Sen. Harkin’s bill here.


States Granted ESEA Waivers May Still Have to Provide SES if State Legislature Requires It

From an Education Week article March 30: “In awarding Florida a waiver under the No Child Left Behind Act, the U.S. Department of Education gave the state’s school districts freedom from having to set aside 20 percent of Title I funds for tutoring and choice in low-performing schools.

But what the feds gave, the state legislature took away.

Earlier this month, not long Florida received its waiver, the state legislature passed a law requiring schools to set aside 15 percent of their Title I funds in 2012-13 for tutoring. (No doubt the tutoring industry was ecstatic about this.)

And districts are not happy. They complained forcefully to federal officials at a meeting of the Council of the Great City Schools earlier this month that the state was backtracking on its promise in its waiver application.

Michael Yudin, the acting assistant secretary in the federal Education Department’s office of elementary and secondary education, seemed sympathetic and told the district officials gathered at the conference that he agreed, in theory, on the supplemental educational services, or SES, issue.

“We don’t think [mandating SES] is the best use of that money,” he said. “We need to figure out how to address the Florida situation. We’re not just going to sit and do nothing.” He indicated that perhaps the feds might require Florida to submit an official amendment to its waiver application, which would then have to be reviewed by the Education Department.

To take a step back, it’s important to note what Florida did—and did not—put in its application.The state did put a checkmark in the box saying it wanted a waiver from the penalties under NCLB that require schools that miss academic targets to set aside 20 percent of their Title I allocations SES and transportation for school choice. But it did not address SES whatsoever in its application, so it made no promises about what it would or would not do with this new flexibility.

Though federal officials may not like SES, ultimately, they say, the decision rests with states.” Read the rest of the article here.



The CBAL Initiative: Innovations in K-12 Assessment

ETS has been conducting a long-term research and development initiative called Cognitively Based Assessment of, for, and as Learning (CBAL™). We are engaging in this complex initiative because we believe that existing approaches to K–12 accountability assessment could be markedly improved by incorporating:

  • findings from learning-sciences research about what it means to be proficient in a domain (in addition to common core standards)
  • tasks that model effective teaching and learning practice
  • mechanisms for returning information about student performance in a rapid enough fashion to be of use to teachers and students
  • testing on multiple occasions so that highly consequential decisions have a stronger evidential basis

About the CBAL Research Initiative

Read more about the CBAL system model. Learn more about the research-based proficiency models that we have developed in conjunction with CBAL projects in reading, writing and mathematics.

Goals and Characteristics of the CBAL Initiative

In the CBAL Initiative, ETS’s central goal is to create a future comprehensive system of assessment that:

  • documents what students have achieved (“of learning”),
  • helps identify how to plan and adjust instruction (“for learning”), and
  • is considered by students and teachers to be a worthwhile educational experience in and of itself (“as learning”).

Learn more about it here:




Alliance for Excellent Education Webinars in the Next Two Weeks

  WEBINAR April 3: New York Small High Schools Initiative

April 3, 2012
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm


What are the lessons learned from the New York City small high schools of choice initiative that can help districts and states create sustainable strategies to markedly improve the graduation rates and trajectories of large numbers of traditionally underserved students? On Tuesday, April 3, 2012, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. (ET), the Alliance for Excellent Education and MDRC will cohost a webinar to discuss the findings of the MDRC report and facilitate a conversation among education leaders about the design and implementation of an effective large-scale high school reform. The webinar will also include a question and answer period to address questions submitted by viewers across the nation.  Register and submit questions for the webinar.


  WEBINAR April 9: Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It

April 9, 2012
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm


Please join the Alliance for Excellent Education for a webinar on Monday, April 9, from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (ET). The webinar will feature Dr. Russell W. Rumberger, who has conducted research on school dropouts for the past twenty-five years and is the author of Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It. The webinar will also feature Alliance Vice President of Federal Advocacy Phillip Lovell who will talk about actions that the federal government can take to help quell the high school dropout crisis. Alliance President Bob Wise will moderate the panel and help address questions submitted by webinar viewers from across the country.  Register and submit questions for the webinar.


  WEBINAR April 12: The Principal’s Role in Implementing Common Core State Standards at the Secondary School Level, Featuring NASSP Board Member Tracey Lambe and NASSP Associate Director of High School Service Mel Riddile

April 12, 2012
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm


What kinds of preparation must principals undertake to ensure that their students will be prepared to master new college- and career-ready standards and to demonstrate that mastery on the new assessments they will take in School Year 2014–15? Join the Alliance for Excellent Education and NASSP on Thursday, April 12, 2012, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (ET), for a webinar discussion of this important question.  Register and submit questions for the webinar.



Weekly Update-March 23

On March 23, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


House Budget Committee Chairman Introduces and Marks Up FY 2013 Budget Resolution

NASSP Coalition Partner Committee for Education Funding “Strongly Opposes” this Budget

Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) of the House Budget Committee introduced his FY 2013 budget resolution this past week in Congress, and in a phrase, it is bad for education. Quoting a letter sent to House Budget committee members in response to Chairman Ryan’s FY 2013 budget resolution, Executive Director Joel Packer of the Committee for Education Funding, a coalition partner of NASSP, writes: “Because the Budget appears to increase defense spending to $554 billion in FY 13, nondefense discretionary spending [which includes education] would be subject to a $27 billion (-5.4%) aggregate cut.

Education programs have already suffered significant harmful cuts to both K-12 and higher education.…Since FY 10, funding for over 50 education programs has been terminated, cutting over $1.2 billion.”

The mark-up of the budget occurred on Wednesday evening. Three education amendments were offered and voted on but all were defeated on party line votes. One of the amendments was from Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) to prevent FY 2013 cuts to federal education funding.

The Budget Resolution is expected to be on the House floor next week. Check back on our blog for updates.

The White House this week stated its opposition to Chairman Ryan’s budget as well with its analysis, The Ryan-Republican Budget: The Consequences of Imbalance. As stated in a White House blog post, “This week, the House Republicans released their 2013 budget. The budget would give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, while paying for it by ending Medicare as we know it and cutting the very investments we need to grow the economy and restore middle class security. We did the math and put a graphic together to help illustrate the importance of a balanced and fair budget.”


U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan Defends President Obama’s FY 2013 Education Budget in House Hearing

On Thursday March 22, Arne Duncan was the sole witness to testify at a hearing held by the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education on the President’s FY 2013 budget request. (For a summary of how the President seeks to fund education for FY 2013 along with NASSP’s reaction, go here). For excellent updates on the testimony, follow NASSP’s coalition partner Committee for Education Funding (CEF) on Twitter at @edfunding and find the tweets from March 22. As CEF Executive Director Joel Packer states, “Basically, Duncan was criticized by both parties for the emphasis on competitive grants and new programs over funding for existing programs like Title I, IDEA, Impact Aid, TRIO and GEAR UP.”



Poor Public Education is a Threat to National Security

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)–sponsored Independent Task Force report on U.S. Education Reform and National Security issued a report this week that said, “Educational failure puts the United States’ future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk.” “Human capital will determine power in the current century, and the failure to produce that capital will undermine America’s security,” the report states. “Large, undereducated swaths of the population damage the ability of the United States to physically defend itself, protect its secure information, conduct diplomacy, and grow its economy.” Secretary Duncan cited this report in his March 22 testimony to the House appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (see Announcements section above) as a means to argue for increased investment (e.g. funding) in education for FY 2013 that President Obama proposes in his FY 2013 budget request.


Findings on the Implementation of School Improvement Grants

The Center on Education Policy issued this week two reports on implementation of the School Improvement Grant program:

State Implementation and Perceptions of Title I School Improvement Grants under the Recovery Act: One Year Later

Opportunities and Obstacles: Implementing Stimulus-Funded School Improvement Grants in Maryland, Michigan, and Idaho


According to a summary of the reports, these are the key findings:


  • Participants in both studies expressed optimism but also raised concerns about certain aspects of the ARRA SIG program.


  • Participants in the case study report, as well as some state survey respondents, said their schools faced significant challenges in replacing teachers and principals, as required by some of the SIG school improvement models.


  • Participants in both studies cited the importance of state assistance to district and schools that are implementing ARRA SIG reforms.


  • Both studies provided evidence that low-performing schools across the country are using some similar approaches to school improvement, although with varying levels of intensity, and are somewhat optimistic about these approaches.


The Center on American Progress (CAP) also issued a SIG report: Competing for School Improvement Dollars


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Speaks out Against Publishing Teacher Value-Added Scores

From a March 23 Education Week article: “Publishing teachers’ ratings in the newspaper in the way The New York Times and other outlets have done recently is not a good use of performance data, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an interview yesterday.

“Do you need to publish every single teacher’s rating in the paper? I don’t think you do,” he said. “There’s not much of an upside there, and there’s a tremendous downside for teachers. We’re at a time where morale is at a record low. … We need to be sort of strengthening teachers, and elevating and supporting them.”

So how does this square with Duncan’s famous endorsement, in 2010, of the Los Angeles Times‘ controversial project to publish a database of teacher “value added” ratings?

Duncan told me that while that project highlighted important data that at the time had been collected and unused by the district, its publication was “far from ideal.”

“What I was reacting to in L.A. was this mind-boggling situation where teachers were denied access to this data. The only way they could get it was through the newspaper,” he said. “There was clearly some level of dysfunction [in the district], that this was the only way they could get it.”

In Los Angeles, the city teachers’ union still hasn’t come around to using the data in a districtwide evaluation system, but such a system is now being piloted in some schools with teacher volunteers.

Duncan’s comments opposing the mass publication of this information echo others in the field—including philanthropist Bill Gates and Teach For America’s Wendy Kopp. While both are generally bullish on the use of such data as a component of teacher evaluations, they argue that its mass publication amounts to a shaming of teachers.” Read the rest of the article here.


NASSP Coalition Partner Committee for Education Funding Releases its Annual Budget Response to Obama’s FY 2013 Budget Request

From the committee website: CEF’s annual Education Budget Response is the most comprehensive source available on how vital federal education programs improve the lives of millions of Americans.

The Budget Response is a useful source for information on federal education programs, but there are resources even more valuable: the authors and contacts listed within, who invite you to find out more about the programs described here and the lives of the people these programs touch.

Initial Summary of Education Provisions in the President’s FY 2013 Budget, click here



National High School Graduation Rate Increases

From a U.S. Department of Education e-mail blast on March 23: “According to a report released at the second annual “Building a Grad Nation” Summit, sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance, the nation continues to make progress at increasing graduation rates and decreasing the number of “dropout factories.”  The national high school graduation rate increased, from 72% in 2001 to 75.5% in 2009.  Twenty states made significant gains (+3 to +17 percentage points), with New York (+13) and Tennessee (+17.8) recording double-digit gains.  Yet, only one state, Wisconsin, had a graduation rate of 90%, and 10 states actually saw declines in their graduation rates during this period.  Meanwhile, the number of so-called dropout factories — high schools graduating 60% or fewer students on time — decreased, from 2,007 in 2002 to 1,550 in 2010, with the rate of decline accelerating since 2008.  Three states, Florida (-62), Georgia (-54), and Texas (-122), decreased the number of dropout factories by over 50.  Further, the South (-410) and suburbs (-171) recorded the largest declines in the number of dropout factories.  However, the Midwest (+33) and towns (+42) and rural areas (+33) recorded increases.”  FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.americaspromise.org/our-work/grad-nation/building-a-grad-nation.aspx.



Note: NASSP lists these events because many are free and offer a webcast for those who cannot attend in-person (which would be most of our members!)

Please join the Center for American Progress for a special presentation:

Race to the Top: What Have We Learned So Far?

March 26, 2012, 10:00am – 11:30am EST

Admission is free.

RSVP to attend this event

Welcoming Remarks:
Tom Perriello, President, Center for American Progress Action Fund

Featured Presenter:
Ulrich Boser, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

Featured Panelists:
Francine Lawrence, Executive Vice President, American Federation of Teachers
Lillian M. Lowery, Secretary of Education, Delaware
Joanne Weiss, Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of Education

Cynthia G. Brown, Vice President for Education Policy, Center for American Progress

With $4.35 billion at stake the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competitive grant program may be its most significant education initiative. Race to the Top promised to help states and districts close achievement gaps and get more students to be college and career ready by supporting several key reform strategies. Eleven states and the District of Columbia won grants in 2010, and since then, there has been much debate about the impact of the initiative.

Please join the Center for American Progress for a conversation with Race to the Top experts who grapple with the challenges of implementation and its implications on a daily basis. We will launch the conversation with a new report by CAP Senior Fellow Ulrich Boser that examines the progress in states and provides a sense of early successes and failures. We will expand on the discussion with a panel of distinguished policy and state leaders.

March 29: National Journal LIVE Policy Summit

Budget Review: Leading Policy Priorities for Sustained Growth

Thursday, March 29
Newseum Knight Broadcast Studio
555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

RSVP AT: http://njbudgetreview.eventbrite.com


With the release of the House Republican’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget resolution, budgetary issues are roaring back to the front burner. Join National Journal for a policy summit that takes a substantive look at each of the leading budget proposals. Where might budgetary compromise and confrontation exist in the competing plans? What does each plan say about the political parties’ respective vision for the country? How are issues like entitlement reform or changes in the federal tax code addressed?  And finally, given the long-standing political impasse on budgetary issues, is passing a comprehensive budget still possible, or is the age of continuing resolutions the “new normal” in polarized Washington?

Moderated by:

Kristin Roberts, Managing Editor, Budget and Economy, National Journal

Keynote One-on-One Interviews:


  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman, House Budget Committee

Followed by:

  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member, House Budget Committee

Panel Discussion:

  • Steve Bell, Senior Director of Economic Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Laura Peterson, Senior Policy Analyst, Taxpayers for Common Sense
  • Ethan Pollack, Senior Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Institute

Green Ribbon Schools Award

On April 23, following Earth Day, Secretary Duncan will announce winners of the Department’s inaugural Green Ribbon Schools recognition award competition.  FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools/.




Weekly Update-March 16

On March 16, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


NASSP 2009 Breakthrough Schools Winner Presents on Capitol Hill

Kevin Lowndes, 2008 winner of the MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools Award and principal of Wheaton High School in Silver Spring (Montgomery County) MD, along with teacher Heather Carias, spoke at a Capitol Hill briefing this past Wednesday on the topic of school turnaround. Given that Congress is still undecided on its federal role in school turnaround, NASSP as part of the coalition Forum on Educational Accountability (www.edaccountability.org) wanted to shed light on how a practitioner like Kevin successfully created sustainable change in his school in order to provide an example to guide federal policymaking. While we do not have a video of the event to share, we invite you to read more about Kevin’s success story here.

Meet NASSP’s 2012 Digital Principals

As you recall, the Digital Principal Award is, according to the NASSP website, “an opportunity to honor principals who exhibit bold, creative leadership in their drive to harness the potential of new technologies to further learning goals. The award also allows us to showcase models of leadership that encourage the use of technology in instruction and for principals’ own professional use.”

The 2012 winners are Michael King of Dodge City (KS) Middle School, Patrick Larkin of Burlington (MA) High School, and Eric Sheninger of New Milford (NJ) High School. Read more about the winners!

Meet the principals through this short video here: http://video214.com/play/azHew0AtPVVitwZK1crTvg/s/dark

Update on FY 2012 Race to the Top Application

The U.S. Department of Education will not release the application for the FY 2012 Race to the Top competition (which is expected to provide most of the $550 million as grants to school districts instead of to states) until June.

Charter School Grants

Three states will split $54.8 million in the FY 2011 Charter Schools Program State Education Agency competition. Minnesota will receive a five-year grant while Massachusetts and New Jersey will receive three-year grants to aid the creation of new charter schools and the sharing of best practices among existing schools. Information about the Charter Schools Program can be found at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/csp/index.html.

House Budget Resolution for FY 2013

House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan (R-WI) will outline his FY 2013 Budget Resolution next Tuesday March 20 and will likely hold a committee markup on the resolution the following day, March 21. NASSP has worked very hard as part of the coalition Committee for Education Funding to meet with dozens of Congressional staff on this committee in the last few weeks to urge them not to cut education funding in this budget and instead to consider it as an investment. Chairman Ryan’s budget is expected to cut the nondefense discretionary caps (that includes education funding) by at least $19 billion. See: House GOP on track to produce budget and G.O.P. Split Over a Bid to Revise Budget Deal


Senators Propose to Create Online College Readiness Tracking Program

On Thursday, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill, called the “American Dream Accounts Act” intended to help low-income students navigate the path to higher education by developing online systems to track college preparation and that would be linked to college savings accounts.

According to an article from Congressional Quarterly, “Coons has talked to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, about the bill, though not in great detail. The language is likely to be attached to other legislation as an amendment, worked into a broader education measure down the road or implemented by the Education Department on its own, according to his staff.”

Read more about the bill from Senator Coon’s press release here.

School Meal Automatic Eligibility Certification to Pilot in Six States

Beginning this summer, students eligible for Medicaid and who are attending K-12 public schools in six states will be automatically certi­fied to receive federally subsidized school meals. According to a March 16 article in Education Daily, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service will collaborate with Alas­ka, Illinois, New York, Kentucky, Florida, and Pennsylvania in the pilot, which will test and utilize direct certification of children and youth who already receive benefits through the Supple­mental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, and Temporary Aid for Needy Families.” This direct certification done electronically will replace the procedure families currently have to go through to fill out paperwork to qualify for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. This pilot program, authorized under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will begin July 1 in the six states for the 2012-2013 school year.

The implementation timeline for the nutrition standards released in January is online at www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Governance/Legislation/implementation_timeline.pdf.


New Tool Helps High Schools Boost FAFSA Completions

From the U.S. Department of Education blog, “Homeroom”: “As the cost of college continues to increase, financial aid becomes ever more important. While many factors are involved in the decision to attend college, there is a strong correlation between FAFSA completion and college enrollment.


Previously, high schools relied on self-reported surveys to estimate their FAFSA completion rate and that data can be inaccurate. For this reason, Federal Student Aid is providing high schools with current data about their FAFSA submissions and completions so that high schools can track their progress and help to ensure that their students complete a FAFSA. A completed FAFSA allows the Department to determine a potential student’s eligibility for federal student aid – a key factor in families’ college decisions.

The data included in the attached charts reflect the number of submitted and completed FAFSAs among applicants no older than 18 who will have received their high school diploma by the start of the 2012-2013 school year. The data is displayed in spreadsheets broken down by state that include the school name and city of the high school. Learn more about the data assumptions and view frequently asked questions.”

Click here to access FAFSA submission and completion data for every high school.

American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Releases Study on the Impact of the Economic Recession on Schools

Weathering the Storm: How the Economic Recession Continues to Impact Schools” is the twelfth in a series of studies examining the impact of the economic recession on schools. The study is based on a survey of 528 school administrators in February 2012. This is a great resource for school leaders to get a better sense of school funding at the district level across the country.

Related studies and articles include:

New AASA Study Shows Little Relief in the Next Year

School Districts Wary of Federal Funding Fight


In Case You Didn’t See This the First Time I Posted This…

“The Case of School Principals”

Last month, Stanford’s Eric Hanushek — who conducted many of the early economic analyses on teacher impact – presented a new research paper at a conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Educational Research. The findings show, in his words, that “principals matter.”

See the report: http://www.caldercenter.org/upload/CALDER-Working-Paper-32_FINAL.pdf


March 20: The Center for American Progress (CAP) will hold a discussion on the federal government’s role in improving schools. You can view the webcast of this event on their website at www.americanprogress.org.

Participants: House Education and Workforce Committee ranking Democrat Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.; Cami Anderson, superintendent of the Newark Public Schools; Rayne Martin, executive director of Stand for Children-Louisiana; Paul Pastorek, chief administration officer, counsel and corporate secretary for EADS North America; Amy Wilkins, vice president for government affairs and communications at The Education Trust; Neera Tanden, president of CAP; and Cynthia Brown, vice president for education policy at the Center for American Progress Action Trust

Register to attend if you are near the D.C. area!




Weekly Update-March 9

On March 9, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


Follow the NASSP 2012 Conference from Home!

The 2012 NASSP Annual Conference begins today, and even if you can’t be on-site for the live event, you can still follow all of the action on NASSP’s website.

Visit www.nassp.org/Conference2012 to watch daily wrap-up videos and interviews with attendees and presenters.

View real-time tweets from participants on the ground in Tampa, and join the conversation by sending your own tweets with the special conference hashtag #nassp2012.

Check out the photo gallery smugmug from the NASSP Conference in Tampa provided by Lifetouch.

Read daily conference highlights from the all-new Leading Schools Blog, www.LeadingSchoolsBlog.org, discussing such session topics as the Common Core State Standards, education technology, urban schools, and much more.


Education and the Workforce Committee Changes: The following members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee will not be on the Committee in the next Congress:

  • Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI) – retiring
  • Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) – deceased
  • Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) – retiring
  • Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) – defeated in primary
  • Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) – running for Senate
  • Rep/ Todd Platts (R-PA) – retiring


Go here to see Secretary Duncan’s statement about the passing of Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ).



FY 12 SEED Grants Announced: This week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan “announced the award of nearly $24.6 million for three grants to improve student achievement by increasing the effectiveness of teachers and principals. Funded under the Supporting Effective Educators Development (SEED) program, projects are awarded to the National Writing Project, New Teacher Center, and Teach for America.”  See: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/education-department-awards-246-million-grants-support-teacher-and-principal-dev.



New Data from U.S. Department of Education Highlights Educational Inequities Around Teacher Experience, Discipline and High School Rigor

From a U.S. Department of Education press release: “Minority students across America face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous high school curricula, and are more often taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

In an event at Howard University attended by civil rights and education reform groups, federal education officials today released new data from a national survey of more than 72,000 schools serving 85% of the nation’s students.  The self-reported data, Part II of the 2009-10 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), covers a range of issues including college and career readiness, discipline, school finance, and student retention.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the CRDC findings are a wake-up call to educators at every level and issued a broad challenge to work together to address educational inequities.

“The power of the data is not only in the numbers themselves, but in the impact it can have when married with the courage and the will to change.  The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.  It is our collective duty to change that,” Duncan said.

Among the key findings are:

  • African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers.  Black students make up 18% of the students in the CRDC sample, but 35% of the students suspended once, and 39% of the students expelled.
  • Students learning English (ELL) were 6% of the CRDC high school enrollment, but made up 12% of students retained.
  • Only 29% of high-minority high schools offered Calculus, compared to 55% of schools with the lowest black and Hispanic enrollment.
  • Teachers in high-minority schools were paid $2,251 less per year than their colleagues in teaching in low-minority schools in the same district.”

Read the rest of the press release and access the website containing all of the data here.

States Are Getting Creative about Seat Time Requirements

According to the National Governors Association, 36 states have adopted policies for districts or schools to be able to offer credits based on student competency in subjects students’ rather than based on the traditional “seat time” requirements. Getting more creative about seat time requirements can help students not only advance faster through grades, but can help struggling or out-of-school students catch up if they are afforded more attention from teachers when the proficient students can advance. From an Education Week article, “Perhaps no state has gone as far as New Hamsphire in moving away from seat-time requirements. In 2005, it became the first state to do away with the Carnegie unit, according to the International Association of K-12 Online Learning, or INACOL, a Vienna, Va.-based group that supports expanding online education options.

The state gave districts until the 2008-09 academic year to award students credits based on their mastery of course-level competencies, though some districts have yet to make the change. (“N.H. Schools Embrace Competency-Based Learning,” Feb. 8, 2012.)” Read the rest of the article here.


House Budget Committee Prepares for FY 2013 Budget Resolution for Impact on Education Funding

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan (R-WI) has stated that he plans to mark up the House FY 2013 budget resolution the week of March 19, and House Republicans are eager to cut funding below FY 2012 levels. According to an article from The Hill publication, “Republicans on the House Budget Committee have intensified their push to overcome differences and produce their 2013 budget resolution, meeting almost daily. The GOP wants to be able to pass a budget without reaching out to any conservative Democrats, so it must find a way to resolve differences on discretionary spending and entitlements within the party conference…. The GOP is most deeply divided over whether discretionary spending caps in the August Budget Control Act should be in the budget or whether spending should be cut more deeply.” NASSP staff has been very active in advocating to preserve and ideally to increase education funding for FY 2013, and have met with several staff in House budget Congressional offices to deliver this message as part of the coalition Committee for Education Funding. Read the rest of the Hill article here and stay tuned for more updates here.


Teacher Job Satisfaction Hits Its Lowest Point in Decades

According to the MetLife survey of the American teacher, teacher satisfaction is at its lowest point since 1989. As Education Week reports: “the survey finds that 44 percent of teachers are “very satisfied” with their jobs, down from 59 percent in 2009. The last time job satisfaction dipped as low was in 1989.

The report is based on telephone interviews of 1,001 U.S. public school teachers conducted last fall by Harris Interactive on behalf of MetLife Inc. (The MetLife Foundation provides funding to Education Week Teacher to support its capacity to engage teachers interactively in professional community.)

In another indication of declining morale, according to the report, 29 percent of teachers say they are likely to leave the teaching profession within the next five years—up from 17 percent in 2009.”

Read the rest of the article and access the report here.


Resource for Teachers and School Leaders on Common Core Implementation

The Common Core State Standards have tremendous implications for all educators. Are you familiar with each of them? Marzano Research Laboratory will walk you through the major considerations of the CCSS during a FREE four-part webinar series. Prepare to align and implement seamlessly. Register today!




FY 13 Appropriations: Listed below are the scheduled House and Senate appropriations hearings on education. Access these sites to view the webcast and read the witness testimonies once these hearings have occurred:

Senate appropriations subcommittee on education: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/ht-labor.cfm

House appropriations subcommittee on education: http://appropriations.house.gov/Calendar/?EventTypeID=316

  • 3/22, 10 AM;  2358-C Rayburn; House Labor- HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing;  FY 13 Department of Education Budget; Witness: Secretary Arne Duncan
  • 3/27,10:30 AM;  2358-C Rayburn; House Labor- HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing – K-12 Education; Witness: TBA
  • TENTATIVE; April 24; 2 PM; 124 Dirksen; Senate Labor- HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing;  FY 13 Department of Education Budget; Witness: Secretary Arne Duncan


In an effort to improve educator effectiveness through federal policy, NASSP has officially joined the Coalition for Teacher Quality. With nearly 90 members representing civil rights organizations, disability groups, parents, educators, and grassroots community activists, the coalition is deeply committed to the development of well-prepared, experienced, and effective teachers for all communities, and to ensuring that every student has a fully prepared and effective teacher in the classroom.

“We are very excited to become members of the Coalition for Teacher Quality,” said Amanda Karhuse, NASSP Director of Government Relations. “Coalition leaders urged us to partner with them based on our recommendations on teacher supervision and evaluation and all the work we’ve done to improve the effectiveness of school leaders. One condition for us joining the coalition is that the focus be broadened to educator quality, so moving forward we hope to lead conversations on principal preparation, evaluation, and professional development.”

In April 2011, the coalition released the following principles for the reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Higher Education Act:

  1. All students are entitled to teachers who are qualified (fully prepared and fully certified), as well as effective.
  2. Teachers in training, if assigned as teacher of record, must be accurately identified, equitably distributed, and adequately supervised.
  3. Teacher effectiveness should be evaluated based on valid measures of teacher performance.
  4. Any determinations made about the status of an individual teacher (e.g. qualified, effective) should be based on that individual teacher’s demonstrated skill, knowledge and ability.
  5. ESEA comparability provisions should be strengthened and enforced so that minority and disadvantaged students do not experience disproportionate numbers of uncertified, inexperienced, or out-of-field teachers.
  6. Preparation programs should be held to common, high standards.
  7. Investments should be made in proven methods to recruit, prepare, develop and retain fully prepared and effective teachers in shortage fields and hard to staff schools.

During the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s consideration of a comprehensive ESEA reauthorization bill in October 2011, the coalition supported an amendment offered by Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) that would have strengthened the definition of a highly qualified teacher and end the practice of concentrating the least prepared teachers in the highest need schools. The amendment, which was not approved, also would have required that, where untrained teachers are hired to fill shortages, they be adequately supervised and that parents be notified when their child is being taught by one of these teachers.

This year, the coalition is focused on defeating the Growing Education Achievement Training or “GREAT” Academies for Teachers and Principals Act (S. 1250), which is also strongly opposed by NASSP. The bill would authorize a grant program for states to support the establishment and operation of new educator preparation academies under which a certification of completion would be recognized as the equivalent of a master’s degree in education for the purposes of teacher and principal hiring, retention, compensation, and promotion. The coalition feels that some of the bill’s provisions have the potential to weaken teacher preparation in the United States, and to do so in a way that experience shows us will particularly undermine the preparation of those who teach our most high-need students. NASSP is also very concerned that the legislation does not require individuals participating in the principal preparation academies to have any prior experience working in schools or with students, which is in direct opposition to many state requirements for principal licensure and certification.

 NASSP looks forward to being a leader in the Coalition for Teacher Quality and will work hard to ensure that all students have access to high quality and effective teachers, principals, and other school leaders.

Weekly Update-March 4

On March 4, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


House ESEA Bills Approved: The House Education and the Workforce Committee this past Tuesday approved the two ESEA bills introduced by Chairman Kline (R-MN) on strictly partisan lines with all Republicans voting yes and all Democrats voting no. Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) offered two substitute bills to completely replace Kline’s bills, but they were defeated.  Rep. Thompson (R-PA) offered an amendment to eliminate “number weighting” under the Title I formula but this was defeated by a vote of 16-22. For more coverage of this markup see NASSP’s blog post here or go to markup of the Student Success Act and markup of the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.


Second Deadline of ESEA Waivers: The Department announced this past week that “Twenty-six new states and the District of Columbia have formally submitted requests to the U.S. Department of Education for waivers. These states join the 11 states that applied in November in the first-round (and already gained approval) to implement their own accountability systems in exchange for certain reforms articulated by the Obama administration. Refer to the Resources section below for useful materials on ESEA waivers. Also see this Education Week article for more coverage.


NASSP Responds to High School Shooting in Ohio

NASSP official statement: “NASSP expresses its condolences to the community of Chardon High School in Chardon, OH, and especially to the families of slain students Daniel Parmertor, Russell King, Jr., and Demetrius Hewlin. NASSP School Safety Specialist Bill Bond has been in regular contact with Chardon Principal Andy Fetchik and providing guidance as the school community works to recover from this tragic event. View additional NASSP resources on school climate/safety.



Principal Turnover Severely Hurts School Performance

A RAND Corporation study released last week found that, not to anyone’s surprise who knows the critical role of the principal in student achievement, principals who leave a school within one or a few years leave behind a school that performs worse years after their departure. As the Education Week article states, “However, the answer is not as simple as just allowing or encouraging those principals to remain in place…In some cases, the solution is to give folks more time,” Ms. Ikemoto said, but policymakers should make sure they’re selecting the very best candidates for those positions from the start.” Read the rest of the article here.


U.S. Department of Education Launches Effort to Strengthen Accountability for Students with Disabilities

From a March 2 Department of Education press release: “The Department of Education announced new steps to help close the achievement gap for students with disabilities by moving away from a one-size-fits-all, compliance-focused approach to a more balanced system that looks at how well students are being educated in addition to continued efforts to protect their rights.

While the Department has effectively ensured access to educational resources for students with disabilities, not enough attention has been paid to educational outcomes, which have not sufficiently improved. This is partly due to the fact that federal policy has focused more on procedural requirements and not enough on critical indicators like increasing academic performance or graduation rates for students with disabilities.

“For too long we’ve been a compliance-driven bureaucracy when it comes to educating students with disabilities,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We have to expect the very best from our students—and tell the truth about student performance—so that we can give all students the supports and services they need. The best way to do that is by focusing on results,” Duncan said.” Read the rest of the press release here: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/department-announces-new-effort-strengthen-accountability-students-disabilities.

For more information about the work of the Department’s Office of Special Education Programs, see http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/index.html


Weigh in on Theory of “Cage-Busting Leadership”

Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute is seeking input from school leaders like yourselves on stories that illustrate either:

“A] the ways in which you’ve been hemmed in by federal/state laws or regulations, district policies, employee contracts, IT/HR/finance operations, established routines, or stagnant cultures, or
B] the ways in which you, or your colleagues, have found ways to escape or explode those constraints.”

Mr. Hess may use some of these stories in his next book tentatively titled Cage-Busting Leadership, and centered on the premise that “It is true, as would-be reformers often argue, that statutes, policies, rules, regulations, contracts, and case law make it tougher than it should be for school and system leaders to drive improvement and, well, lead. At the same time, however, it is also true that these leaders have far more freedom to transform, reimagine, and invigorate teaching, learning, and schooling than is widely believed.” Read the rest of his musings on this topic and learn how to weigh in with your thoughts here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rick_hess_straight_up/2012/02/cage-busting_leadership.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Walt+Gardner+Reality+Check.



CBO on ARRA: On February 22, CBO released Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from October 2011 through December 2011. “CBO estimates that, compared with what would have occurred otherwise, ARRA will raise real GDP in 2012 by between 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent and will increase the number of FTE jobs in 2012 by between 0.2 million and 1.1 million.”


Useful Resources for ESEA Waivers:

U.S. Department of Education: Website devoted to the waivers including press releases, fact sheets, summaries, and more: http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility

Council of Chief State School Officers: State ESEA flexibility map coloring states by status (applied, applications pending, not applied) as well as “state innovations and specific details found in NCLB flexibility requests”: http://www.ccsso.org/Resources/Programs/ESEA_Flexibility.html

National Governors Association: Press release linking to a news issue brief outlining the opportunity for states through ESEA waivers to “reinvent” their accountability systems: http://www.nga.org/cms/home/news-room/news-releases/page_2012/col2-content/states-have-opportunity-to-reinv.html

White House Education Blueprint: In conjunction with the President’s speech this week to NGA which focused on the importance of education, the White House released: Education Blueprint: An Economy Built to Last. It includes sections on Higher Education Access and Success: Securing America’s Economic Competitiveness, Reforming K-12 Education to Prepare All Students for College and Career and Common Purpose: Investing in Our Students and in Our Future.

National Skills Coalition Budget Analyses: The National Skills Coalition last week issued its analysis of the President’s FY 13 budget.

Republican Presidential Candidates and the Budget: Last week, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget released a new report that “analyzes how the policy proposals put forth by Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul, Governor Mitt Romney, and Senator Rick Santorum will affect the federal budget. The report, Primary Numbers: The GOP Candidates and the National Debt attempts to measure the debt impact of each candidate’s platforms as they have presented them to date.”


Senate HELP Hearing: On March 8 at 10 AM in 430 Dirksen, the Committee is holding the following hearing: The Key to America’s Global Competitiveness: A Quality Education. Go here to view the witness list and to access the witness testimonies and webcast once the event has taken place.

Occupy the DOE: Two organizations, Save Our Schools and United Opt Out are planning a series of events on March 30-April 2 called Occupy the DOE (Department of Education).  NASSP is not involved in activity, but we wanted to share the information for those NASSP members who may be interested: http://unitedoptout.com/occupy-the-doe-in-dc-schedule-march-30th-to-april-2nd-2012/


Ever since the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) passed in 1965, every reauthorization of the legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support, but in February the House Education and Workforce Committee approved two bills to reauthorize ESEA that proved strictly partisan with all 23 Republicans on the committee voting for the bills, and all 16 Democrats voting against them.

The Student Success Act (HR 3989) would eliminate adequate yearly progress (AYP) and allow states to develop their own accountability systems measuring student performance against state-adopted standards and assessments. As an endorsing partner of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, NASSP was very disappointed that the bill seems to move away from college and career-ready standards. The bill would also eliminate the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program and instead allow states to implement their own turnaround strategies. While we’re pleased that this would remove the four school turnaround models that require the principal’s replacement as a condition for receiving federal funding, NASSP is concerned that this would eliminate the only dedicated funding stream for low-performing middle and high schools.

The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (HR 3990) would require districts to develop teacher evaluation systems that, among other criteria, use student achievement data as a “significant factor” (i.e. presumably over 50%) accompanied by other multiple measures. The bill consolidates formula grants currently applied toward teacher quality programs in order for states to reform teacher and school leader certification, recertification, licensing, and tenure systems, among other uses. Finally, the bill would eliminate direct funding for many programs critical to students’ health and well-being, including mental health and counseling services that ensure a well-rounded education.

NASSP has serious concerns about these House ESEA bills, as noted in a coalition letter that was signed by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National School Boards Association, and other organizations representing school and district leaders. In our February 3 letter to Chairman Kline, we list our concerns around the elimination of maintenance-of-effort provisions, a reduced focus on professional development, and a funding cap to Title I based on FY 2012 levels that ignores rising enrollment and the impact of inflation.

While Chairman Kline seems serious about these bills as legislation to replace No Child Left Behind, several Democrats such as Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) among others noted their disapproval of the bills by describing them as a mere “ideological exercise” instead of a serious attempt to address current inequities in our education system. (For a more complete summary of these bills please refer to the January 9 blog post).

Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) offered two substitute amendments that would replace the entire text of the bills, but these bills also failed on a party-line vote. Miller’s amendment to replace the accountability bill would have required states to set achievement targets as well as ensured measures of accountability for English language learners and students with disabilities that were not addressed in H.R. 3989. The amendment addressing teacher quality would have kept the requirement for districts to develop teacher evaluation systems and would have restored funding for the arts and other curriculum that comprises a well-rounded education. Miller’s amendment to H.R. 3990 also included an independent funding stream supporting statewide efforts to improve literacy, and NASSP as part of a group called Advocates for Literacy sent a letter of support on February 27 to Miller in regard to that provision (access the letter here).

Chairman John Kline (R-MN) seems intent on pushing these bills forward and is working with the House leadership to get the bill to the floor. “We’ve gotta keep the process moving forward,” he said in an interview after the markup. In the meantime, Chairman Kline seems intent on maintaining the momentum of his bills with or without much Democratic support. On the Senate side, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) has declared that he will not seek to advance his committee-approved ESEA bill until the House produces a bipartisan bill, indicating that the reauthorization process will remain stalled until after the 2012 presidential election. Nonetheless, NASSP will continue to work with committee members on both sides of the aisle as the legislation moves forward to advocate for the best policies for students and secondary school leaders.