Alliance for Excellent Education

Association for Middle Level Education

National Association of Secondary School Principals

National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform


Honorary Co-hosts

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-7)  





Early Warning Indicator Systems:

A Tool for High Performing Middle Grades Schools

This briefing will discuss the impact of using early warning indicator systems—which identify students at high risk of dropping out as early as sixth grade—to keep students on track for graduation and accelerate successful student progress. Hear from representatives from a middle school, the research community, and Congressional staff.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

HC-8 in the Capitol

*Please bring identification for entrance via the House side of Capitol * 


Presenters Include


Bob Wise, President

Alliance for Excellent Education


Bob Balfanz, Co-director, Everyone Graduates Center

Johns Hopkins University


    Catherine Miller, Teacher and Data Specialist

                                MS 244, The New School for Leadership and the Arts

Bronx, NY


Regan Fitzgerald, Legislative Counsel

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)


RSVP to: Ellen Fern –

Weekly Update-May 25

On May 25, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


NASSP Supports Congressman Honda’s New Anti-Bullying Caucus

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), who is a former teacher and principal, recently established the Congres­sional Anti-Bullying Caucus to address federal anti-bullying efforts, and NASSP is proud to endorse and support the work of this new caucus. “As an educator of more than 30 years and a member of Congress who was bullied as a child, I am inspired to help craft solutions that stop bul­lying in communities everywhere, both online and offline,” Honda told Education Daily®. “The bipar­tisan Anti-Bullying Caucus will give a voice to the voiceless by providing a premier forum to develop legislative solutions to stop bullying.” The caucus already has 20 members and Honda said that many other Democratic and Republican Representatives have also expressed interest in joining the caucus.

The caucus is scheduled to officially begin in June, and Honda said that he will introduce anti-bully­ing legislation this summer. As noted by Education Daily, “Anti-bullying measures already introduced include the Safe Schools Improvement Act, S. 506 and H.R. 1648 [which NASSP supports], the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act, H.R. 83, and the Anti-Bullying and Harassment Act, H.R. 975.

Student Loan Interest Rate Update: Proposal Defeated in the Senate

(As a reminder, unless Congress acts to stop it, over 7 million college students will be affected on July 1 when the interest rate on new subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans for undergraduate students is set to double, from 3.4% to 6.8%. As noted in a White House statement, “Taking action to stop the doubling of these rates will save students $1,000, on average, over the life of their loans.”

The Senate on Thursday defeated both the Republican and Democratic proposals to maintain the current 3.4% interest rate on subsidized student loans. See: Student Loan Bills Stall in Senate. Sen. Reid (D-NV), Majority Leader in the Senate, said that the Senate will consider this issue again in June to address it before the July 1 deadline. NASSP encourages its members to contact their legislators and urge them to prevent this scheduled doubling of student loan interest rates.

FY 2013 Appropriations

The Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a markup on its bill on Tuesday June 12 with a full committee markup scheduled for Thursday June 14. This markup will determine the funding allocations for various education programs for FY 2013. Keep in mind that the House and Senate need to reconcile their appropriations allocations. However, Congress will most likely pass a “Continuing resolution” (CR) before the beginning of FY 2013 on October 1 to keep the government running and programs funded largely at their FY 2012 levels, which will most likely last through the elections. At that point, Congress will either pass another short-term CR or settle on a year-long CR for FY 2013. Look for tweets from Amanda (@akarhuse) and Mary (@kingston_m) on June 12 about the markup!


(As a reminder, sequestration is the drastic, across-the-board cuts to education that are scheduled to occur on January 2, 2013. These across-the-board cuts will occur-unless Congress acts to stop it-as stipulated in last August’s Budget Control Act. Congress put this measure of sequestration in place in case a 12-member Congressional committee was unable to approve a plan to reduce another $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit; this committee failed, triggering sequestration.

Sequestration would impose the largest education funding cuts ever, chopping funding for programs in the Department of Education by roughly $4 billion, or 8.4%, which would have a devastating impact on state and district budgets.)

From Joel Packer, Executive Director of CEF: “The Bipartisan Policy Center has released a new analysis of the 2013 sequester: The 2013 Sequester May Not Be What You Think. It projects that the sequester could result in an across-the-board cut of as much as 9.3%. They also make the point that since 3 months of the fiscal year will already have passed by the time of the sequester, that the effective cut for the remaining FY 13 funds might be as high as 12.3%. This may well be the case for the four education programs that have advanced appropriations (Title I, ESEA Title II, IDEA state grants and CTE state grants) as well as Impact Aid which is current-year funded.” Check out a new report by Research America on how sequestration would impact health funding, but that is also helpful in learning about the kind of impact that sequestration would have:


Department of Education Announces District-Level Race to the Top Applications

This week, the U.S. Department of Education released the draft guidelines for a district competition for Race to the Top funds. Read more on the guidelines here, which includes some NASSP feedback at the end of the article. The Department is seeking public comment on these guidelines through June 8, and NASSP encourages its members to weigh in. Go here to read the guidelines and submit your comments:

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Outlines His Ideas for Education

From an Education Week article published May 23: “Presumptive GOP nominee Gov. Mitt Romney called today for making federal funding for special education and disadvantaged students portable—meaning the money would follow students to any school their parents choose, including a private school.

Under his proposal, parents could also choose to use the funds under Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act at charter schools, for online courses, or for tutoring. Title I is funded at $14.5 billion this year, and IDEA is funded at $11.6 billion, and any proposal to radically shift the use of that money would be almost certain to face a host of administrative, budgetary, and political hurdles from the Congress and statehouses on down.

Romney, who unveiled his education agenda at the Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Summit in Washington Wednesday, is also calling for an expansion of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, which President Barack Obama has sought to eliminate. He would also make it easier for high-quality charter schools to expand, a position that the Obama administration has also embraced.

“I will expand school choice in an unprecedented way,” Romney said in the speech. “Too many of our kids are trapped in schools that are failing or simply don’t meet their needs.”

When it comes to the No Child Left Behind Act, Romney would dismantle the accountability system at the heart of the law, and he calls for schools to create “report cards” with a variety of information about student progress. Schools would have report scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress—known as the nation’s report card. There also would no longer be federal mandates for improving schools under his plans.

“No Child Left Behind helped our nation take a giant step forward in bridging [the] information gap,” Romney said. And he said he would do what President Barack Obama could not – get Congress to pass an overhaul of the law. “As president, I will break the political logjam that has prevented successful reform of the law. I will reduce federal micromanagement while redoubling efforts to ensure that schools are held responsible for results.”

Read the rest of the article here:

Also, see the National Education Association’s critique of Romney’s proposals here.

A Look Back at States’ Range in Education Policies and Funding as Lawmakers Conclude their 2012 Sessions

From an Education Week article published online May 22:“As state legislatures sprint or stagger down the homestretch of their 2012 sessions, a variety of K-12 issues are capturing their attention, with lawmakers in some states wrapping up major changes to education-related finance, while others trade blows over policy overhauls.

And as budgets in a number of places emerge from the dark recession years—California, with its projected $16 billion shortfall, is a notable exception—legislators in Kansas and Maryland have pushed to increase school aid or at least stabilize per-pupil spending.

A few states, though, have seen significant resistance to policy initiatives that have gained traction across the country. Both 3rd grade retention and school grading systems, for example, are getting pushback from those who think some of the big policy changes need doses of moderation or are misguided.” Read the rest of the article here.

Department of Education Launches New Study of ELL’s with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education will send researchers to 18 schools to study how they serve ELL’s who are suspected to have a disability. According to the announcement in the Federal Register, the study has two primary components: “1) A review of recent research on the identification of [ELLs] with special needs, and (2) case studies of nine school districts and two schools in each district,” the announcement said. “Findings will be descriptive in nature.” Project Director Tamara Nimkoff noted a correction that the study will actually look at six districts and then three schools in each district. She also noted that this small-scale project will help develop a larger study in the future. “It is an exploratory study,” she said. “The purpose really will be to generate some hypoth­eses about what challenges still exist, several years after NCLB, etc., in identifying English learners with potential disabilities and what strategies districts have found to be useful.”  Nimkoff also noted that this project “will look at how teachers distin­guish between the difficulty of learning a new language and more cross-cutting issues — issues that may warrant a referral to special ed,” as described in Education Daily. This study will be conducted by the Instructional Research Group and Compass Evaluation and Research, in addition to Westat. The participating schools and districts have not yet been selected, Nimkoff said. For more information about the project, contact Nimkoff at


Report Shows Civic Disparities by Education, Income Levels

U.S. High School Students Are “Shaping Up” Through Higher Attendance Rates, More Rigorous Courses


State Budgets

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) issued a new report detailing the fiscal squeeze still faced by many states: States Continue to Feel Recession’s Impact.


The Condition of Education 2012

The Department of Education’s National Center on Education Statistics this week released the Condition of Education 2012. The Condition of Education 2012 summarizes important developments and trends in education using the latest available data. The report presents 49 indicators on the status and condition of education, in addition to a closer look at high schools in the United States over the past twenty years. The indicators represent a consensus of professional judgment on the most significant national measures of the condition and progress of education for which accurate data are available. The 2012 print edition includes indicators in three main areas: (1) participation in education; (2) elementary and secondary education and outcomes; and (3) postsecondary education and outcomes.


Two Webinars on Thursday May 31:

1) Thursday, May 31, 2-3 pm EST: The Role of Career and Technical Education in Preparing Students to Compete in the Twenty-First-Century Economy — sponsored by the Coalition For a College- and Career-Ready America

Today’s global economy demands a better-educated and more highly-skilled workforce. In communities across the country, career and technical education (CTE) programs are making a difference in meeting that demand by engaging students in authentic learning with real-world application, preparing them for further study and a career, and helping to fill jobs. Yet too many CTE programs are not results driven and lack the relevance and rigor students need to prepare for lifelong learning and a successful career.

In April 2012, the Obama administration released a blueprint for reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006, which is the largest federal program targeted to high schools. The proposal calls for a transformation of CTE around four core principles: effective alignment between CTE programs and labor market needs; collaboration among secondary schools, institutions of higher education, employers, and industry partners to improve the quality of programming; accountability for improving academic outcomes; and systemic reform of state policy to support innovation at the local level.

Join the Coalition for a College- and Career-Ready America for a webinar featuring CTE and other education experts who will discuss the proposed blueprint, the appropriate role of federal policy in supporting high-quality CTE and what it takes-at the local level-to create programs that expand opportunity for students to be successful in college and a career while also strengthening the nation’s economy. Webinar panelists will also address questions submitted by viewers from across the country.


–Brenda Dann-Messier, EdD, Assistant Secretary, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education

–Kimberly Green, Executive Director, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium

–Sydney Rogers, Executive Director, Alignment Nashville

–Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education

Register and submit questions for the webinar online at

Please direct questions concerning the webinar to

NOTE: If you are unable to watch the webinar live, an archived version will be available at usually one or two days after the event airs.

2) Thursday, May 31 3:30-4:30 pm EST, Promising Practices in Building Educator Capacity to Use Data: Webinar Series
Session 1-Evidence of Impact: Investing in Educator Capacity to Use Data from 3:30-4:30 p.m. EDT
* Geoffrey Borman, Ph.D., Professor, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison
* Mickey Garrison, Ph.D., Director of Data Literacy, Oregon Department of Education
* Jeff Wayman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Austin College of Education

States must implement policies and promote practices-including professional development and credentialing policies-to ensure that educators know how to access, analyze, and use data effectively. In this three-part webinar series, state policymakers and practitioners will have the opportunity to learn from a growing body of evidence about the value of investing in and building educator capacity to use data.

Session 1 will focus on Evidence of Impact: Investing in Educator Capacity to Use Data. Participants will join in a discussion of research-based evidence about the impact and value of investing in educator training on using data to inform classroom practice.

Register by going to:

There will be two additional sessions in the webinar series:
* Session 2: Data Use to Improve Teacher Preparation
(June 19, 2012, 2:30-3:30 p.m. EDT)
* Session 3: What Is Data Literacy and How Do We Achieve
It? (July 17, 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT) 

Today, Students Are Cooking up Change
Invite Your Legislators to Try Healthy School Lunches Created by Students

Ready, set, whisk! Today, high school culinary students from Chicago, Denver, Jacksonville, Santa Ana, St. Louis and Winston-Salem are facing off in the Cooking up Change national finals.

These students have crafted healthy, great-tasting school meals that meet strong nutrition standards on a tight budget with ingredients commonly available for school food service. They’ve won local qualifying competitions and have been practicing the presentation they’ll deliver for the panel of judges at the finals. All the teams are bringing impressive recipes that have won kudos from their peers as well as from local judges.

Tomorrow, one dish from each team’s meal will be served at a briefing for Congress on the future of school food. It will also be available for lunch in the Longworth cafeteria, which serves Congressional leaders and their staff! The students will speak at the briefing to share their experience in Cooking up Change and their perspective on the importance of healthy school food.

You can support the students’ efforts by sending a letter urging your senators and representative and their staff to attend the briefing and try the students’ lunch! Send an invitation here.


Weekly Update-May 11

On May 11, 2012, in Weekly Update, by Mary Kingston


Sequestration Update

(As a reminder, sequestration is the drastic, across-the-board cuts to education that are scheduled to occur on January 2, 2013. These across-the-board cuts will occur-unless Congress acts to stop it-as stipulated in last August’s Budget Control Act. Congress put this measure of sequestration in place in case a 12-member Congressional committee was unable to approve a plan to reduce another $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit; this committee failed, triggering sequestration.

Sequestration would impose the largest education funding cuts ever, chopping funding for programs in the Department of Education by roughly $4 billion, or 8.4%, which would have a devastating impact on state and district budgets.)

This week, the House passed H.R.5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012 in a near party-line 218-99 vote. The bill was supported by nearly all Republicans — only 16 opposed it, and no Democrats supported it.

As The Hill explains in a May 10 article, “The House voted Thursday to override steep cuts to the Pentagon’s budget mandated by last summer’s debt deal and replace them with spending reductions to food stamps and other mandatory social programs.

While doomed in the Senate and opposed by the White House, the legislation, which would reduce the deficit by $243 billion, is a Republican marker for post-election budget talks with the White House.”

NASSP is strongly opposed to this bill and feels that this legislation does not come anywhere near the balanced deficit reduction approach we must take to address our federal deficit. For more on this bill, see House votes to replace Pentagon cuts mandated by debt deal.

NASSP encourages you to tell your legislators that sequestration is unacceptable by signing this online petition at Join with thousands of other education stakeholders and sign this petition!

AASA Sequestration Toolkit: The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) has posted Sequestration and the Schools: AASA Toolkit, which has some very useful materials to help you better understand the potential impact of sequestration.

Student Loan Interest Rate Update

(As a reminder, unless Congress acts to stop it, over 7 million college students will be affected on July 1 when the interest rate on new subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans for undergraduate students is set to double, from 3.4% to 6.8%. As noted in a White House statement, “Taking action to stop the doubling of these rates will save students $1,000, on average, over the life of their loans.”

Also, two weeks ago the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4628, the Interest Rate Reduction Act, by a vote of 215-195.

The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy stating it would veto the House bill. The House bill is not very bipartisan-and the White House opposes it-because although it maintains the 3.4% interest rate (and prevents its scheduled doubling), it pays for this by cutting mandatory funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund (which helps prevent chronic diseases) in the Affordable Care Act.)


The issue now in Congress is to find a politically acceptable offset for the cost of maintaining student loans at their current rate. No major action occurred this week, but in the meantime Senate Democrats are keeping the pressure on for Republicans to negotiate a bipartisan offset.


Senate Democrats also posted some videos:

Two weeks ago NASSP signed onto a letter to Congress organized by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) to urge legislators to prevent the scheduled doubling of student loan interest rates set to occur on July 1 if Congress doesn’t act, and we encourage NASSP members to contact their legislators to deliver the same message.


New Guide Released for Developing Principal Evaluations

From an Education Week article on May 7: “The National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality has released a “practical guide” designed to help states and districts create meaningful principal evaluation systems.

The guide is based on research into the current state of school leader evaluations as well as lessons learned from evaluation designers. It takes its readers through eight steps, from creating goals for an evaluation system, to selecting the measures that will be used, to evaluating the system after it has been put in place.

Matthew Clifford, a senior research scientist at the American Institutes for Research and one of the authors of the guide, said that principal evaluation systems are often built on the same framework as systems that measure the effectiveness of teachers. “Often, we are lumping educators together, when in actuality, the jobs are quite different,” Clifford said. In addition to his work on the guide, Clifford is the main author of a brief on principal evaluations called “The Ripple Effect,” which synthesizes the current state of research into principal effectiveness.

Clifford said that the guide can be thought of as a toolbox for the facilitators guiding the creation of an evaluation system. “The Ripple Effect” report goes in depth on the underlying reasons why those tools are meaningful.” Read the rest of the article, along with a link to the guide, here.

NASSP and NAESP have also formed a committee on principal evaluation, and the report and recommendations from this committee will be released in the coming months. Stay tuned for more information!


First Public Draft of Voluntary “Next-generation” Science Standards Released

The work of 26 states as “lead state partners” along with various educators and experts have developed a draft of voluntary, “next-generation” science standards released today with the hope that all states will adopt these voluntary standards.


As reported by Education Week on May 11, “Organizers say the standards emphasize not simply providing a foundation of essential knowledge, but also ensuring that students apply that learning through scientific inquiry and the engineering-design process to deepen their understanding.

Twenty-six states, from California to Maine and from South Dakota to Georgia, are “lead state partners” in the effort and have worked on the draft in collaboration with a range of educators and experts.

Other top priorities in the document are promoting depth over breadth in science education, ensuring greater coherence in learning across grade levels, and helping students understand the cross-cutting nature of crucial concepts, such as energy and matter, that span scientific disciplines.

The hope, organizers say, is that most, if not all, states ultimately adopt the standards.

But such action is by no means a given. One complication may be the handling of evolution and climate change, issues that have been political flashpoints over the years and could make approval challenging in certain states. Read the rest of the article here.

Advocacy Groups Urge Departments of Education and Health to Improve Students’ Well-Being


Two health advocacy groups, The Healthy Schools Campaign and Trust for America’s Health are lobbying the departments of Education and Health and Human Services to make recommended changes to improve students’ well-being that research shows is directly tied to academic achievement.


Among their recommendations are the following:

“• The Education Department should expand the work of the office of safe and healthy students and appoint a deputy assistant secretary to the office so it is better equipped to handle emergency situations, such as an outbreak of the H1N1 flu, and provide guidance to states, school districts, and universities.

• The department should appoint a school nurse consultant who can share information with state school nurse consultants and promote school health services and school nursing.

• The department should identify best practices for training teachers about standards related to health and separate standards for integrating health into data tracking and school accountability. Health and wellness also should become part of the criteria for competitive-grant programs for teacher and principal training, parent-engagement strategies, and state longitudinal data systems.”

Read more about these groups and their work, along with their complete list of recommendations here.



Major Accountability Themes of Second-Round State Applications for NCLB Waivers


The Center on Education Policy released Major Accountability Themes of Second-Round State Applications for NCLB Waivers, which analyzes the NCLB waiver applications submitted by 26 states and Washington, D.C. to the U.S. Department of Education in February 2012. Among the findings in the report is that, like the first round of applications, these states are proposing new accountability systems that will lead to greater complexity both within states and between states, but at the same time will be more integrated with states’ own existing accountability systems. Nearly all the state applications propose annual achievement targets and performance levels that are more nuanced than what is currently in place under NCLB. On the other hand, 19 of the 27 applications analyzed will use a combined subgroup for accountability decisions, rather than all of the student subgroups mandated under NCLB. None of the states analyzed will continue to require school choice and SES in schools identified for improvement.

Go here for the report:

State Grant Aid Report

This week at the Brookings Institution, the Brown Center on Education Policy is releasing the report “Beyond Need and Merit: Strengthening State Grant Programs.” In this report, the Brookings Institution State Grant Aid Study Group, chaired by student aid expert Sandy Baum, examines the variety of state grant programs currently in place and makes policy recommendations based on the best available research.



U.S. Department of Education Seeks Input on “RESPECT” Project to Transform the Teaching Profession

From a Department of Education press release: “A vision document for reforming the teaching profession created by active classroom teachers working temporarily for the U.S. Department of Education has been posted for public comment on the Department’s website today as part of Teacher Appreciation Week. The 14-page document reflects input from more than 2,500 teachers across the country who participated in approximately 200 roundtable meetings over the past six months…

The RESPECT Project, which stands for Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching, is the Obama Administration’s effort to honor and elevate America’s educators.  The administration’s proposed 2013 budget seeks $5 billion for a new competitive program to support states and districts working to reform the teaching profession.

RESPECT explores transformative ideas for improving classroom instruction, making the most of the school day and year, strengthening the relationship between principal and teachers, and distributing talent to high-need schools and subjects. In addition, it discusses effective methods for recruitment, training, development, and creating career pathways that encourage talented teachers and leaders to maintain professions in education.

The vision document, titled “The RESPECT Project: Envisioning a Teaching Profession for the 21st Century”, is available for public comment until June 19, 2012 at:

White House “To Do” List

The White House this week issued a “to-Do List” for Congress related to jobs and the economy.  One piece of the new plan is focused on bringing jobs back to the United States.  Among the items mentioned in one of the fact sheets is “the important role that partnerships between universities and companies can play in accelerating education, innovation and U.S. manufacturing investment.” See: Administration Support For Insourcing and Increasing Investment in the United States which mentions several actions that the Administration has taken and/or proposed relating to education.


Weekly Update-May 4

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


Preventing the Doubling of Student Loan Interest Rates

As I noted last week, unless Congress acts to stop it, over 7 million college students will be affected on July 1 when the interest rate on new subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans for undergraduate students is set to double, from 3.4% to 6.8%. As noted in a White House statement, “Taking action to stop the doubling of these rates will save students $1,000, on average, over the life of their loans.”


Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) predicted this week that Congress would call off the doubling of college loan rates that’s set to occur on July 1. “Democrats and Republicans have been working together to get this resolved and I believe that we will,” the Speaker said. Boehner indicated that he’s willing to work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) when Congress returns from recess next week, to negotiate on an offset for the $6 billion cost of keeping the Stafford loan rate at 3.4 percent, as it has been for five years. “If the Senate wants to do a different pay-for, that will be up to them, but we will have this issue resolved,” he said.


The Senate will attempt to schedule a vote for a bill to address this, S. 2343 (Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012) on Tuesday, May 8.


On May 2, NASSP as part of a broad coalition of student, education, faith, business, labor, consumer protection and school administrator groups and associations sent a letter to Republican and Democratic leaders urging action to prevent the doubling of interest rates on student loans.

Further, a handful of NASSP state coordinators yesterday participated in a call with White House officials who gave more information about the President’s efforts to freeze the student loan interest rate.

See the Resources section for, well, more resources on this issue!


Four More School Improvement Grants (SIG) Announced: This week the U.S. Department of Education announced that New York, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wyoming have received their School Improvement Grant awards from the FY 2011 SIG appropriation. See: Four States Receive Funding to Turn Around Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools



Green Ribbon Schools


From a U.S. Department of Education e-newsletter: “On Earth Week Monday, Secretary Duncan, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the first U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), including 78 schools that span 29 states and the District of Columbia.  ED-GRS is a recognition program that opened in September 2011.  Honored schools exercise a comprehensive approach to creating green environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health and wellness, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students with 21st century skills and sustainability concepts needed in the growing global economy.  “Today, we are shining the spotlight on 78 terrific and innovative schools, but our real aim is more ambitious,” the Secretary stressed in a related blog post (  “We don’t want pockets of excellence.  We want success to be the norm.”  FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO  (Note: These are one-year recognition awards.  Next year’s competition will open this summer.  State education agencies are requested to indicate their intent to submit nominees by June 15 to”


NASSP Board of Directors Take on Capitol Hill


This Thursday, the NASSP Board of Directors participated in a roundtable discussion with Congressional staff on the Senate and House education committees and visited their Congressional offices while in town for their spring Board meeting. This marks the 3rd straight week that NASSP has had a group of its members on Capitol Hill to deliver their stories and impart their passion for their work. There’s no doubt that dozens of legislators now have a much better sense of the critical role of school leaders for student success as a result of this collective advocacy.



State Chiefs, School Boards, and Other Groups Urge Congress to Reauthorize ESEA

A number of state and local government groups including the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities and others, sent a letter to the House and Senate leadership this Thursday urging that the ESEA reauthorization be completed this year. One portion of the letter notes: “We need certainty in federal policy at a time when we are struggling with reallocating scarce education resources to fund what works. We need federal policy that instead of focusing on process and compliance, allows for state and local innovation.”


NASSP certainly shares the same sentiment for the urgency of a reauthorization. While we appreciate the temporary relief that the waivers provide, we know this is not a solution and are also pressuring Congress to reauthorize the law.


Also see: Alphabet Soup of National, State, Local Groups Call for ESEA Reauthorization.


U.S. Department of Education Gives States Feedback on NCLB Waiver Applications

On April 17, the Department of Education sent letters to the 26 states plus D.C. that applied for the second round of NCLB waivers. Education Week staff reviewed 18 of those letters and found overlapping areas of concern that the Department highlighted for states to address:

Education Week examined 18 of the 27 letters, and found some common areas of concern:

•Almost every state needed to do a better job of explaining how they’ll train teachers and principals to implement the new math and reading standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

•Many of the states were asked to spell out how they would make the standards accessible for English-language learners and students in special education. And some states—including Vermont and South Dakota—didn’t do enough to make sure that graduation rates are a significant factor in accountability.

•States also had difficulty spelling out how they would cope with transitions—in some states to the new Common Core, and in others from their old accountability systems to their new ones.

•The department was also critical of the way many states crafted “annual measurable objectives” (goals for schools.) There was concern that many of the targets states set weren’t rigorous enough, or didn’t do enough to look out for the achievement of particular subgroups. Many states didn’t go far enough to explain how they would intervene in schools that are missing achievement targets because of subgroup students (such as English-language learners).

•States also got dinged for their plans concerning “Priority” (bottom 5 percent) and “Focus” schools (those that are in danger of slipping into the bottom). In some cases, states didn’t do a good job of spelling out exactly how they’d intervene in these schools. And in other cases, they didn’t set a high bar for how they would decide when a school should get out of “Priority” or “Focus” status.

•Almost every state was also called out for not doing enough to explain how they were consulting with stakeholders. In some cases—such as Idaho and South Dakota—states were asked to do more to reach out broadly to teachers, community members, and others. Other states were asked to connect with particular communities. Kansas, for instance, was told it needed to engage groups representing English-language learners, students with disabilities, and Indian tribes. Ohio got similar instructions.

The department also noted that some of the requests went beyond the scope of what states were told they could ask for under the NCLB waiver guidelines. For instance, Vermont wanted to add a fifth model it could use with schools getting money under the School Improvement Grants, and Ohio wanted to give English Language Learners an extra year before they have to take English language arts tests for accountability purposes. The department essentially said, we’ll get back to you on those separate issues.”

Read the rest of the article, including feedback on specific state applications, here.


Report Reveals High Turnover of New York City Charter School Principals

From a New York Times article published April 30: “By their own numbers, New York City charter schools have a tough time holding onto their principals, with nearly one in five of them heading for the door from one year to the next, according to a report released by a charter school advocacy group on Monday.

The New York City Charter School Center, a nonprofit group that supports charters, composed the report, which is a close-up look at the 136 charter schools that have sprung up across the five boroughs in the last 13 years. As the report notes, the schools still tend to be young — most have been open for four years or less. They enroll only about four percent of the city’s public school students.

But their numbers are growing — next fall, more than two dozen charter schools will open across the city — and by 2017, the charter school center expects them to account for 10 percent of public school enrollment.” Read the rest of the article here.



CLASP Report: CLASP just issued a new report about the positive return on investment of investing in postsecondary education: The Credential Differential


IDEA and Sequestration: Listen to this podcast hosted by IDEA Money Watch about how sequestration would impact IDEA. They have a new Sequestration section online, which includes links to their FAQ, State Calculator and Podcast, plus links to Action alerts and other resources. For more information on sequestration, refer to previous Weekly Updates on this blog.

Student Loan Interest Rate Information from the U.S. Department of Education


Education Week Commentaries: The Federal Role in Education

“What lessons have been learned from the past half-century of federal involvement in education? What role, if any, is the federal government suited for in the formulation and implementation of education policy? The following essays, which have been adapted for Education Week from the recently published book Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit (Harvard Education Press, 2011), seek to answer those questions, among others. Writers from the five-part Commentary series include Charles Barone, Larry Berger, Chester E. Finn Jr., Andrew Rudalevige, and Marshall S. Smith.”


On May 10, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, the Department will release the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science results for eighth-grade students.  FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO