Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Status of ESEA Reauthorization
Congress wrapped up 2012 with no movement on ESEA reauthorization and begins the 113th Congress with no indication of addressing reauthorization anytime soon. The urgency of the “fiscal cliff” crisis consumed nearly all of the lame duck session, and the 113th Congress will be tasked with addressing legislation to avert sequestration and to raise the federal debt ceiling. The reelection in November of President Barack Obama means that we can expect states’ waivers from No Child Left Behind to move into the implementation phase, thus dimming a sense of urgency from Congress to reauthorize ESEA. Further, the 113th Congress brings significant turnover of education committee members in the House, with 13 new members on the committee all of whom must be brought up to speed on the key issues related to K-12 education. However, with enough pressure from the Chairmen of the House and Senate education committees and from the President and Secretary Duncan, ESEA reauthorization in the 113th Congress is not entirely out of the question, but still a long shot. NASSP will continue to push for a comprehensive ESEA reauthorization that includes a focus on our key issue areas: school leadership, literacy, middle level and high schools, and education technology. See attached issue sheets for more information on these key areas.
Currently, thirty four states plus D.C. have been approved for waivers, and two states’ requests are still outstanding: Iowa and Illinois. In addition, California was recently denied its request for waiver. Six states have yet to apply: Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming. NASSP continues to monitor the waiver process as well as the content of waiver applications to ensure they align with our positions on relevant issues. We are particularly concerned about states’ targets for and weighting of graduation rates as part of their accountability systems. Some states’ waiver applications set graduation rate targets and weighting too low, while others set them so high that schools may be incentivized to “push out” students not ready for graduation in order to meet the high targets.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education in November released a document highlighting which states are using an extended-year graduation rate (e.g., a 5-year or 6-year rate). Most notably, it shows that several states are using an extended-year graduation rate without increasing their annual target. Under the Department’s initial implementation of the regulations, states were allowed to use extended year rates if they had increased annual targets for the extended year rate. The rationale behind this previous approach is that if a school has more time, more students should graduate. Unfortunately, several states maintain the same annual target even if they are using an extended year graduation rate.
NASSP has met with key Congressional staff on the House education committee to express our concerns, and will continue to monitor this issue as well as others contained in the approved waiver applications.
FY 2013 Budget/Appropriations
The federal government is currently operating under a 6-month continuing resolution (CR) which level-funds all programs from their Fiscal Year 2012 levels through March 27, 2013. At that point, Congress will need to agree on and pass a year-long CR to cover spending for the remainder of FY 2013. Agreement on spending levels now seems difficult, since the House and Senate appropriations committees in their allocations for education programs currently have a gap of $1.5 billion that the leadership in appropriations will have to reconcile. Complicating a year-long FY 2013 federal budget are the issues of sequestration (see below) and the federal debt ceiling that Congress must address prior to March. NASSP staff will continue to keep you updated on this messy and stressful situation!
Congress narrowly avoided sequestration by voting at the last minute (January 1) to delay the sequester for two months, or until March 1, 2013. As a result, though sequestration was temporarily averted, it is still a significant threat that could still occur. The Committee for Education Funding (CEF) now projects that the revised sequestration percentage for nondefense discretionary programs will be 5.9% instead of the 8.2% projected by Office of Management and Budget. This is due to the $24 billion reduction in the sequester total for FY 2013. Thus, the total sequester amount will be $85.33 billion, instead of $109.33 billion. The domestic sequester is half of that amount or $42.67 billion. After taking into account the sequester cuts from nonexempt mandatory programs, the CEF projection of the cut to non-defense discretionary spending is $27.44 billion, which would result in a 5.9% across-the board cut. For the Department of Education, that would result in a cut of approximately $2.95 billion.
If sequestration does occur, education funding would not be affected until the 2013-2014 school year, since education is forward-funded by the federal government and this school year’s funds would thus be exempt. However, a few programs would be cut right away (this school year), including the Head Start preschool program for low-income children, and the impact-aid program, which assists districts burdened with additional costs from a large federal presence, such as a military base.
NASSP Government Relations staff has met with Congressional offices this quarter specifically on the issue of sequestration to urge legislators to prevent sequestration and instead find a solution to deficit reduction that is balanced and responsible. We met with the following Congressional offices:House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX). . CEF has also organized meetings with several other Congressional offices this past quarter as well to deliver our unified message about education funding.
NASSP encourages you to tell your legislators that sequestration is unacceptable by sending an action alert to your legislators through NASSP’s Principals’ Legislative Action Center at www.nassp.org/plac. As of January 3, 1,514 letters have been sent to legislators on this issue using NASSP’s action alert. We also encourage you to access a toolkit of resources on sequestration available at http://cef.org/cef-grassroots-campaign-2/. Here you can access sample Tweets, letters to the editor, and action alerts to urge your legislators to stop sequestration. Thank you in advance for your advocacy!
School Principal Recruitment and Training Act
NASSP continues to advocate for the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act, although the bill was not reintroduced during the 112th Congress. The bill would authorize a grant program to recruit, select, train, and support aspiring or current principals with track records of transforming student learning and outcomes and prepare these principals to lead high-need schools. Selected aspiring principals would be provided with a pre-service residency that lasts for at least one year as well as ongoing support and professional development for at least two years after they commence work as school leaders. Grant funds would also be used to provide mentoring and professional development to strengthen current principals’ capacity in the areas of instruction, supervision, evaluation, and development of teachers and highly effective school organizations. This past quarter, NASSP and NAESP staff worked together to revise a draft bill, and both organizations are working collaboratively with staff of Sen. Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) to prepare a bill for introduction in the 113th Congress.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act (H.R. 2272/S. 929) in 2011. The bill would authorize $2.35 billion for comprehensive state and local literacy initiatives, building on the best components of the federal Early Reading First, Reading First, and Striving Readers programs. Districts would support school-wide literacy initiatives that include professional development for principals and teachers to incorporate literacy across the curriculum and targeted interventions for struggling students. NASSP is working with its coalition partner, Advocates for Literacy, to ensure the bill’s reintroduction in the 113th Congress.
The LEARN Act had 15 House cosponsors and 6 Senate cosponsors at the end of the 112th Congress.
Success in the Middle Act
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced the Success in the Middle Act (H.R. 1547/S. 833) in 2011. Under the bill, states are required to implement a middle school improvement plan that describes what students are required to know and do to successfully complete the middle grades and make the transition to succeed in an academically rigorous high school. School districts would receive grants to help them invest in proven intervention strategies, including professional development and coaching for school leaders, teachers, and other school personnel; and student supports such as personal academic plans, intensive reading and math interventions, and extended learning time. This past quarter, NASSP and NAESP staff worked together to revise a draft bill, and both organizations are working collaboratively to ensure the bill’s reintroduction in the 113th Congress.
The Success in the Middle Act had 17 House cosponsors and 8 Senate cosponsors at the end of the 112th Congress.
Graduation Promise Act
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) reintroduced the Graduation Promise Act (H.R. 778/S. 1177) in 2011. The bill would support the development of statewide systems of differentiated high school improvement that focuses research and evidence-based intervention on the lowest performing high schools, and improves the capacity of the high schools to decrease dropout rates and increase student achievement. The bill would also provide competitive grants to states to identify statewide obstacles hindering students from graduating, and provide incentives for states to increase graduation rates. NASSP plans to work with other key organizations this upcoming quarter to ensure the bill’s reintroduction in the 113th Congress.
The Graduation Promise Act had 34 House cosponsors and 1 Senate cosponsor at the end of the 112th Congress.
NASSP on Capitol Hill
NASSP and NAESP conducted a number of join meetings with congressional staff to discuss our recommendations on principal evaluation. Offices being visited this quarter included Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), House Education and the Workforce Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), Senate HELP Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Michael Enzi (R-WY).
Coalition for Teaching Quality
NASSP staff and other members of the Coalition for Teaching Quality met with congressional staff to discuss implementation of reporting language on teachers in training who are currently labeled “highly qualified” even though they have not yet completed their preparation programs. Offices being visited this quarter included House Education and the Workforce Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
Educator Preparation Reform Act
NASSP, NAESP, the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and other organizations met with staff for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to discuss the Educator Preparation Reform Act. The primary focus of the legislation is on teacher and principal preparation and amends the Higher Education Act (HEA). It also improves Title II of the HEA—the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants Program—by expanding the residency programs to include principals and providing partnerships flexibility in meeting the instructional needs of local school districts.
Advocates for Literacy
NASSP and other members of Advocates for Literacy met with staff for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to discuss the LEARN Act and the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program.
Over 100 congressional staff and education advocates were able to witness firsthand how technology can be integrated into physics, literacy, and social studies lessons at an October event sponsored by the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET). NASSP Director of Government Relations Amanda Karhuse serves on the NCTET board of directors.
To kick off the “pop-up” classrooms event, the principal of Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, VA, and NASSP member John Word and a physics teacher from Red Lion (PA) High School discussed how technology has changed their instructional practices. “The role of the school leader is to empower teachers to explore new technologies and new ways of teaching,” said Word. He also noted that technology has made his job as an administrator more manageable because he’s “mobile” and always able to access student and teacher data. Both panelists consider themselves lucky to work in school districts that have made technology a top priority, but they agreed there’s always a need for additional funding for professional development for school leaders and teachers. There’s also a concern that few schools are prepared for the new online Common Core assessments that will begin in 2014.
After the panel discussion, audience members rotated through four mobile classrooms. First was a history lesson on the 1860 election with two teachers from New Milford (NJ) High School where 2012 NASSP Digital Principal Eric Sheninger leads a schoolwide technology integration initiative. Attendees also participated in a hands-on physics experiment to measure the temperature of baking soda and vinegar and tracked the data on laptops. Classroom trends were also graphed on the teacher’s whiteboard, so students could understand in real time where they had performed the experiment correctly or not. Teachers from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia demonstrated adaptive curriculum and assessments, including an online essay writing program and interventions for high school students who are reading below grade-level. The final session with educators from Loudoun County (VA) Public Schools showed how gaming technologies can be used to teach special education students about teamwork and to express their feelings and stay in their personal space.
From the audience’s reaction, it was clear that their own education experience was really different than what was presented by these tech-savvy educators. NCTET hopes to plan similar events in the future and encourage Congress to invest in education technology programs so students in every school can have access to a rich learning experience.
NASSP and the US Department of Education
National Principals Month
During the week of October 8-12, officials from the U.S. Department of Education visited nearly 40 local schools, many of which are led by NASSP and NAESP members, to learn more about the daily life of a principal as part of National Principals’ Month. “Great school leaders are key to students receiving a high-quality education and teachers feeling supported and empowered in their work,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Outstanding principals build school cultures focused on learning and high expectations, where all students can reach their full potential. Every great school has a great leader.”
In addition to the visits to these schools, dozens of Education Department staff members visited schools in other parts of the country as part of an organized effort in which federal education officials shadowed school leaders. As a key component of National Principals’ Month, these shadowing visits offered Department staff a glimpse into the daily work of school leaders, while also providing principals with the opportunity to discuss how federal policy, programs, and resources impact their schools.
To complete the week-long partnership effort, on Friday, Oct. 12, principals and Department staff members who participated in the job shadowing engagements joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for a debrief discussion to reflect on their experiences and lessons learned.
Find the complete list of participating schools here: http://nasspblogs.org/principalspolicy/2012/10/us-department-of-ed-officials-to-visit-nearly-40-schools-to-learn-from-principals/.
Meetings with Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle
NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti and NASSP government relations staff joined other association representatives from the Council of Chief State School Officers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals to meet with Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deb Delisle in October and December as part of a series of regular bi-monthly meetings. NASSP is pleased that Assistant Secretary Delisle has established these regular meetings as a means to share information and recommendations, and we hope that they will prove fruitful in terms of the specific recommendations NASSP has for the Department of Education as cited in our position statements and elsewhere
News from the White House and the US Department of Education
Principals to Play a More Prominent Role in Obama’s 2nd Term
In a speech before the Council of Chief State School Officers in November, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that principal preparation and evaluation will be two focus areas for the administration’s education reform agenda in the next Congress. The announcement corroborated what NASSP leaders had been told in private meetings with US Department of Education (ED) officials—there was an admission that teachers had dominated the “human capital agenda” and a promise that school leaders would play a more prominent role if President Obama won a second term. Duncan also supported the creation of a principal ambassador position at ED when the idea was suggested by one of the principals who had participated in the October principal shadowing visits.
Although no details have been released concerning the administration’s policy recommendations on school leadership, ED officials are expected to release a blueprint on the RESPECT proposal to transform the education profession. The $5 billion proposal was first announced during the January 2012 State of the Union address, and multiple drafts were circulated for public comment during the following months. NASSP also held a number of focus group sessions at our national conference in Tampa and with principals and assistant principals who were in Washington, DC, as part of our recognition programs. The overwhelming response was positive towards the administration’s recommendations for preparing, training, and rewarding teachers, but the education profession as a whole cannot be “transformed” without also focusing on school leaders was a recurring comment made by NASSP members.
NASSP and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) submitted joint recommendations on the RESPECT proposal to the Department in August 2012. In our letter, we called for principal preparation programs to select high-quality candidates who have demonstrated success as classroom teachers, demonstrate abilities related to effective school leadership competencies, and show prior success in leading adults. Aspiring principals should receive training during a year-long pre-service residency and induction for up to three years alongside a principal mentor. We also urged the inclusion of principal evaluation systems that would assess principal performance on the six domains of leadership responsibility within a principal’s sphere of influence and also take into consideration the context of the learning community and the level of authority afforded the individual principal. Our organizations also encouraged districts to provide opportunities for principals and assistant principals to engage in ongoing, sustained, job-embedded leadership development. We remain hopeful that our recommendations will be incorporated into the final version of the blueprint.
NASSP and NAESP have held a number of meetings with key staff on Capitol Hill to discuss our joint recommendations on principal evaluation that were released in September 2012. We are also working together to update the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act, which is expected to be reintroduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) early next year. The flagship bill on school leadership will focus on principal preparation, mentoring, professional development, and evaluation, and our hope is that it will serve as the basis for any language affecting school leaders in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Department of Education Awards 17 Promise Neighborhood Grants
On December 21, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced 17 winners of the 2012 Promise Neighborhoods $60 million grant. Promise Neighborhoods, according to the Department of Education, “is a community-focused program that funds local-led efforts to improve educational opportunities and provide comprehensive health, safety, and support services in high-poverty neighborhoods.”
These awards were split between 10 planning grants totaling more than $4.7 million and 7 implementation grants totaling nearly $30 million. The rest of 2012 funds will go toward second-year funding for the 5 implementation grantees awarded in 2011. According to the Department, “Planning grantees will each receive one-year awards of up to $500,000 to create targeted plans for combating poverty in the local community. Implementation grantees will receive awards up to $6 million to fund the first year of a 5-year grant to execute community-led plans that improve and provide better social services and educational programs.”
A complete list of 2012 grant winners can be found here: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-duncan-announces-seventeen-2012-promise-neighborhoods-winners-school-s.
Additional information on the Promise Neighborhoods program and 2012 winners is also available here: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/promiseneighborhoods/index.html.
Statement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the Newtown, Connecticut, School Shootings
“School shootings are always incomprehensible and horrific tragedies. But words fail to describe today’s heartbreaking and savage attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As the father of two children in elementary school, I can barely imagine the anguish and losses suffered today by the Newtown community.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to every parent, child, teacher, staff member, and administrator at Sandy Hook and the surrounding community. And our thanks go out to every teacher, staff member, and first responder who cared for, comforted, and protected children from harm, often at risk to themselves. We will do everything in our power to assist and support the healing and recovery of Newtown.”
Department of Education Awards 16 Race to the Top-District Grants
The U.S. Department of Education announced on December 11 that 16 applicants have won the 2012 Race to the Top-District competition, and will share almost $400 million in funds. The awardees’ plans will address the personalization of student learning, improved student achievement and educator effectiveness, closing achievement gaps, and preparing all students to succeed in college and their careers.
According to the Department of Education, “The 2012 Race to the Top-District grantees will receive four-year awards that range from $10 million to $40 million, depending on the number of students served through the plan. The winning applicants were the top scorers among the 372 applications the Department received in November, which were evaluated and scored by independent peer reviewers. Grantees represent a diverse set of districts, including applicants from both states that received a Race to the Top state grant as well as those that have not received Race to the Top state funding. Among the winners is a rural-area consortium representing 24 rural districts, which comprise 44 percent of the total number of districts that will benefit from the 2012 competition.”
To view a list of the grantees, go here: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/education-department-announces-16-winners-race-top-district-competition. For more information about the Race to the Top-District program, including a list of winners, requested award amounts and additional materials, visit the Department’s website: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district/index.html.
NASSP Federal Grassroots Network
As a reminder, Federal Grassroots Network members no longer participate in quarterly calls (only state coordinators do), but continue to receive email updates twice per week summarizing the latest news and events in federal policy and funding. If you or your colleagues are not yet members of the Federal Grassroots Network and would like to become one, please email Amanda Karhuse at email@example.com. For an overview of what membership in the Network involves, please go here: http://www.nassp.org/Legislative-Advocacy/NASSP-Federal-Grassroots-Network.
NASSP State Coordinators
NASSP welcomes several new coordinators to their roles: Lisa DeLong (HI), Stacy Johnson (MS), Gary O’Brien (NJ) and Robert Mars (NV).
The NASSP State Coordinators held its quarterly call on November 13 and a make-up call on November 14. The five “hot topics” the Network reported on in their states and that NASSP Government Relations staff created action items on, in order of importance to members, were: teacher evaluation, state education funding, implementation of common core state standards, a tie between principal evaluation and federal education funding, and finally, No Child Left Behind waivers. Fact sheets have been developed on each of these topics.
The quarterly call dates for the remainder of 2012-2013 are the following (members will choose one date/time per quarter):
As part of major legislation to create jobs and improve the nation’s economic competitiveness, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced a proposal to assist schools in preparing all students to be college and career ready.
NASSP strongly supports the Common Core State Standards, and the board of directors recently approved a position statement offering recommendations on their successful implementation. We call on Congress to fund ongoing, professional development about these new standards to build the capacity of principals, assistant principals, and teachers. School leaders are also encouraged to provide professional development opportunities to instructional staff members to help them teach to higher standards and provide students with the supports they need to achieve them.
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, NASSP is pleased that the bill would require in-service activities for school administrators that support instructional leadership around the implementation of these standards and ensure coordination with pre-service teacher preparation programs. Local implementation strategies would also support the use of technology to personalize instruction and to enhance educators’ own professional learning.
The bill was introduced as one provision in the Rebuild America Act (S. 2252), which would provide investments in job training, manufacturing, and the transportation infrastructure; increase overtime benefits and establish a fair and equitable minimum wage; and make changes to the tax code. While not taking a position on the entire legislation, NASSP also strongly supports a provision that would authorize $20 billion in formula grants for the modernization, renovation, and repair of early learning facilities, K-12 public schools and community colleges.
President Obama this morning announced his plan to send the American Jobs Act to Congress. NASSP strongly endorses the president’s call for investing in our children by funding more teachers and school modernization, for which the Act provides.
The need is indeed great, as states are facing the depletion of ARRA funds and still suffering the effects of the recession. The results are real and dire: The Council of Economic advisers projects that states will have to lay off 280,000 teachers during the next school year and crumbling facilities are strained by a $270 billion backlog in repairs and maintenance. The advent of online testing that will accompany the Common Core State Standards adoption intensifies an already urgent need for schools to modernize facilities to prepare students for 21st century work and life.
This bill is about all of us. It’s not about supporting an ideology or institution, but supporting our children–those who will be our caretakers and leaders in the next generation–with educators and facilities that will empower them to thrive.
To underscore our support, NASSP was proud to recommend two member principals, Virginia Minshew of Park View High School in Sterling, VA (a 2010 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School), and Jane Spence of Bowie High School in Bowie, MD, to join the president in the Rose Garden for his address. Their presence is front-line testimony that the support outlined in the American Jobs Act matters to schools. We encourage all school leaders to add their voices to these principals’ and use the Principal’s Legislative Action Center to encourage their members of Congress to support the American Jobs Act.
School leaders on Twitter can also visit www.TweetCongress.org to send a quick message to elected officials. First, find your members of Congress by zip code or name, them send a message in 140 characters or less, like:
Whether by e-mail, tweet, or good ol’ fashioned phone call, be sure your members of Congress know that your students need their support!
The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), held a hearing this week to examine the role of charter schools in the nation’s education system. Go here www.edworkforce.house.gov to watch a webcast of the event and read the witness testimony.
Debt Ceiling/Deficit Reduction:
House Rejects Clean Debt Ceiling Bill: This Tuesday, the House rejected HR 1954, a bill to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion (the amount needed through the end of 2012). It failed by 97 – 318. House Republican leadership staged this vote to give their members the opportunity to officially register their opposition to raising the debt ceiling without spending cuts (all Republicans voted no) as well as to demonstrate that a clean debt ceiling bill can’t pass without spending cuts. Democrats split with 97 voting yes, 82 voting no and 7 voting present.
The next meeting of the Biden bipartisan group (aimed at finding a bipartisan deficit reduction plan for FY 2012) is scheduled for June 9. Yesterday, after President Obama met with the House Republican caucus, Speaker Boehner called for direct talks between himself and Obama and for a deal to be worked out within a month. See: John Boehner calls for debt deal in a month www.politico.com
FY ’12 Budget and Appropriations News: Balanced Budget
The House Judiciary Committee yesterday partially marked up H.J. Res 1, a proposed Constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget. In addition to mandating that outlays (spending) cannot exceed revenues in any year (other than by a 3/5ths vote of both the House and Senate) it also limits total outlays to no more than 20% of GDP (the co-called global spending cap), which can only be waived by a 2/3rds majority vote of both houses of Congress and prohibits any legislation to increase revenues without a 3/5ths majority vote of both houses. It would take effect in FY 17.
Department of Education Issues New Rules for Investing in Innovation Grants
The second round of the Investing in Innovation grant program will be a smaller, $150 million contest for districts and non-profits. The Education Department guidelines will require fewer private-sector matching dollars, ask applicants to focus on rural schools, and change how evidence of past success is used in the scoring process. Read more here: www.edweek.org.
Common Core Assessments to Integrate Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
The two consortia of states developing the common core assessments, to be rolled out in the 2014-2015 school year, are crafting them to include accommodations for students with disabilities. Videos with avatars conducting sign language is just one example of the innovative means that the consortia are taking in their approach. “We’re not even thinking about accommodations anymore” in the traditional sense, said Mr. Hock, co-chair of the accessibility and accommodations work group for the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium—one of the two groups developing the new tests. Read more here: www.edweek.org.
White House Convenes Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics
The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence held its first President’s Advisory Commission meeting last week. The work of this commission is urgent since Hispanics account for more than one in five students in public elementary, middle, and high schools, but have the lowest educational attainment overall. White House Initiative Director Juan Sepulveda said the commission’s priority is to collect best practices, noting that “the community has told us many, many times: We don’t need any more reports, we need help.” Read more here: www.whitehouse.gov.
Alliance Releases New Report on Deeper Learning
From the Alliance website: “Policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels should support the concepts of “deeper learning” to help all students meet higher expectations and be prepared for college and career, according to a new Alliance policy brief released on May 26. The brief argues that deeper learning provides students with the deep content knowledge they need to succeed after high school and the critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills that today’s jobs demand.” Read the brief here: all4ed.org [pdf].
ARRA Spending Report:
ED has posted an updated reports showing ARRA spending as of May 27. Of the $97.4 billion in ED ARRA funds allocated, 82.6% has been outlaid (spent). $16.9 billion still remains to be spent.
CHN Budget Webinar:
The Coalition for Human Needs is sponsoring a webinar on June 7th: A Webinar for the Budget-Perplexed: Stop the Slashing
The human needs advocates’ simple guide to understanding – and defeating – unprecedented attacks on the federal budget Tuesday, June 7, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. EST
Massive cuts in essential services like Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP/food stamps, education and children’s services, help to low-income communities such as housing and the Community Services Block Grant, and virtually every other human needs program. A large number of proposals now being floated in Washington would devastate these services and would make it far harder for the federal government to respond to economic downturns and solve looming national problems. Yet at the same time, they would do nothing to restrict more deficit-increasing tax cuts for millionaires and corporations.
These proposals don’t have straightforward names like “The Act to Slash Health Care for Older Americans” or “The Act to Cut Services for Low- and Moderate-Income Americans in order to Provide Enormous Tax Breaks for the Rich.” Instead, Congress is talking about global caps, balanced budget amendments, debt ceiling increases, deficit reduction… It’s hard to fight back if you don’t understand how you’re being attacked.
Advocacy alert: Help NASSP advocate for the LEARN bill! Senator Murray (D-WA) is expected to re-introduce this bill, the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) next week, and we need to show members of Congress that this bill has significant support from the field. Thank you to those of you who have already sent letters to your members of Congress through our Principal’s Legislative Action Center but if you haven’t please go here to do so: app3.vocusgr.com.
Also, please take 5-10 minutes of your day and call your Senators’ offices to urge your Senators to cosponsor this bill-a personalized phone call from you, a school leader, carries weight in the Senate offices! Thanks for helping us to advocate for the best federal policy for you. This bill is needed so badly because it is the only federal program to address literacy at a time when literacy instruction will become more crucial than ever as we prepare students for tougher college- and career-ready standards and for the 21st century workforce.
Appropriations Update: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will force a vote on the House-passed FY 2012 Budget Resolution proposed by Rep. Ryan (R-WI). The Budget won’t pass in the House but Reid hopes to use it as a gauge to show just how many Democrats oppose it, and to see where Republican votes fall on it as well. Further, the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities recently analyzed the impact of the Ryan budget if it were enacted, and find that “the bulk of the cuts in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget would come in programs for lower-income Americans …Cuts in low-income programs appear likely to account for at least $2.9 trillion — or nearly two-thirds — of this total amount.” In other words, Ryan’s budget would be devastating to low-income Americans and to domestic discretionary programs like education, and has been strongly opposed by President Obama and Senator Reid along with others. House Appropriations subcommittees are getting ready to start marking up FY 12 bills most likely in late May/early June. Chairman Rogers has promised to have all 12 bills passed by the House before the August recess, but the House is only scheduled to be in session 40 days between now and the start of the August recess so this may not occur.
NASSP officially endorses the National History Day Project. New evaluation results from the National History Day (NHD) program demonstrate the ability of history education to improve academic achievement and build 21st century college- and career-ready skills. The NHD program works with both students and teachers to improve the teaching and learning of history in schools. Since its inception, the NHD program has successfully served 2.2 million students and teachers in 50 states, two American territories, the District of Columbia and in Department of Defense and International Schools overseas. To read more about the evaluation results, go to: www.nhd.org.
U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today $30 million in funding for a second round of Promise Neighborhoods grants to be divided between a new set of planning grants and implementation grants. Of the $30 million, half will be for the first implementation grants to some of last year’s planning grant awardees and half will be for another round of planning grants. Read more here: www.ed.gov.
Gates, Pearson Foundations to Develop Common-Core Curriculum
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with the Pearson Foundation, have announced plans to develop a comprehensive online curriculum aligned with common core standards. The two foundations will create 24 online courses in math and English/language arts for grades K-12. The announcement has received mixed reactions from education groups. “We have ample evidence that solutions that attempt to be comprehensive almost always are inadequate, partly because they’re not developed from the relationship between the local teacher and students” worries Kent Williamson, Executive Director of the National Council of Teachers of English. To read more click here: www.edweek.org
Department of Ed: Hispanic Academic Achievement Will Be Key to America’s Future
The U.S. Department of Education released a report Wednesday underscoring the importance of Hispanic achievement in education. According to the report 22 percent of all pre-K-12 students enrolled in America’s public schools is Hispanic yet only about half earn their high school diploma on time and only 4 percent have completed graduate or professional degree programs. “Hispanic students have graduated at lower rates than the rest of the population for years, making America’s progress impossible if they continue to lag behind” says Juan Sepulveda, Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. To read more click here: www.ed.gov
Ed Tech Advocates Find New Funding Streams After Tough Budget Cuts
Proponents of the Enhancing Education Through Technology Program are proposing new and innovative ways to fund existing programs after the $100 million EETT program was eliminated in the FY11 budget. Karen Cator, Director of the office of educational technology for the DOE says the Department is still committed to educational technology development. “Formula programs are essential for making sure high-need students have access to resources, such as technology, that will help them achieve success in school. We are working to make sure technology is embedded in all programs” says Cantor. To read more click here: www.edweek.org
Proportion of Failing Schools on the Rise According to CEP Report
A new report issued by the Center on Education Policy finds the proportion of schools failing to meet AYP requirements rose 5 percentage points from last year, bringing the number to 38 percent. The report also found that individual states vary widely in their AYP progress. For example, only 5 percent of Texas schools failed to make AYP compared to 91 percent of schools in the District of Columbia. To read more click here: www.edweek.org
Secretary Duncan to Support Withholding Delaware District’s RTTT Funds
In a warning to other districts Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has publicly supported Delaware’s decision to withhold RTTT funds from a district that now wants to change its school-turnaround plans. “Because [Christina School District] has backtracked on that commitment, the state of Delaware has made the tough but courageous decision to withhold Race to the Top funding. I believe that is the right decision” said Duncan in a public statement. The warning comes as states scramble to make ambitious changes before deadlines end. To read more click here: blogs.edweek.org
From the Dept of Ed e-newsletter: Looking for a better way to find curricula, products, and practices? Check out the new and improved What Works Clearinghouse search feature: Find What Works (ies.ed.gov). This powerful tool makes it easy to find out exactly what rigorous research says about the effectiveness of more than 100 widely used education interventions. Interventions may be searched by outcome, grade level, population, effectiveness, extent of evidence, program type, and delivery method.
FY 2011 Funding: The fiscal year 2011 appropriations process continues to be dramatic. As you recall from my update last week, we are currently operating under a short-term CR that expires April 8 (two weeks from today.) By that time, one of 3 things will happen: Congress will: 1) pass another short-term CR; 2) negotiate to pass a year-long CR; or 3) force a government shutdown if no negotiation is possible. While House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) has publicly said he will not allow a government shutdown, the possibility is still on the table. If short-term CR’s continue instead of a year-long one, however, conservative Republicans may use them as opportunities to “ratchet up” their demands for more spending cuts. These demands would include amendments that de-fund Democratic priorities like healthcare reform. From an article today from The Hill publication: “A House GOP aide said Thursday “it is a possibility” that the GOP will increase its demands in an attempt to put the onus on Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. “ Read the rest of the article here: thehill.com.
House Education and Workforce Hearings: This week the Committee held two field hearings in Pennsylvania and New York entitled, “Reviving our Economy: The Role of Higher Education in Job Growth and Development.”
Full Committee Field Hearing in Utica, New York
Full Committee Field Hearing in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
At the Wilkes-Barre hearing, Rep. Barletta said: “Critical to that effort are our institutions of higher learning. They help ensure that students and workers have the tools they need to succeed in the workplace. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor documents the close relationship between higher education and employment. Today, workers with a high school diploma have a nearly one in 10 chance of being unemployed, while their colleagues with a college degree have only a 4.3 percent chance of being unemployed.”
Grad Nation Summit: From America’s Promise Alliance website: “Commemorating the launch of America’s Promise Alliance’s 10-year Grad Nation campaign, the Building a Grad Nation Summit convened March 21-23, 2011 in Washington, D.C. The three-day event was co-hosted by America’s Promise Alliance, the Alliance for Excellent Education, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University to inspire a national movement to reach our goal of a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020.” Review webcasts of summit sessions as well as the group’s “Marshall Plan” to achieve its goals here: http://www.americaspromise.org/Our-Work/Grad-Nation/Summit.aspx.
Obama Administration Unveils College Graduate Initiative
Vice President Joe Biden announced a new initiative Tuesday aimed at increasing college graduation rates. Biden called on state governors to become more involved in encouraging college completion and offered financial incentives to states that offer innovative plans for increasing graduation rates. Bob Wise, a former governor and current president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, said the plan may be effective but “states must also significantly raise high school graduation rates, while increasing the preparation of high school students for college-level class”. To read more click here: www.edweek.org
Call for Shared Curriculum Sparks Common Core Debate
A debate has risen in school districts and states over whether the implementation of Common Core Standards should require a national shared curriculum or not. Differing definitions of curriculum have added a new layer to the already complex debate over how much local control communities should have over classroom content. “There is a certain unease about curriculum creation because it connects to content.” says Lynne Munson, President of the Common Core Organization, “we are trying to navigate those admittedly difficult waters”. To read more click here: www.edweek.org
Study Shows Negative Impact of Dropout Rates on U.S. Economy
A new report released by the Alliance for Excellent Education measures the impact of school drop-out rates on the U.S. economy. According to the report, the high rate of unemployment and low earning power of drop-outs impedes the economic flow of money, ultimately costing the nation millions of dollars. Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education states, “There’s been a lot of talk about how budget deficits threaten our children’s future, but the best way to cut budget deficits is to cut drop out rates”. To read more click here: www.edweek.org
Districts Make Tough Program Cuts As Budget Crisis Looms
Districts nationwide are beginning to cut programs once thought to be an essential part of school life as budgets become increasingly tight. Districts are cutting everything from after-school tutoring, to sports programs, reducing transportation options and even shortening the school year. “All the low-hanging fruit is gone…you talk about the light at the end of the tunnel, but I don’t think people see the tunnel anymore” says John Musso, executive director of the Association of School Business Officials International. To read more click here: www.edweek.org
DOE Outlines new Promise Neighborhood Model
Despite a federal budget battle that keeps funding levels uncertain, the Department of Education has released new guidelines for the implementation and grant process of the Promise Neighborhoods Program. The program, modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone initiative, provides educational and developmental assistance to children in high-need areas. President Obama has asked for $210 million for the program, though an FY 11 federal budget has not yet been approved by Congress. To read more click here: www.edweek.org/22/26promise.h30.html#offer
Student Aid Alliance Website: “The Student Aid Alliance, a coalition of 61 higher education organizations committed to protecting the federal student aid programs, today unveiled a new website (www.studentaidalliance.org) to help students and higher education leaders make the case for protecting Pell Grants and other core federal student aid programs from drastic budget cuts.
“The new site highlights student success stories, integrates the Student Aid Alliance’s new Facebook page (facebook.com/studentaidalliance) and Twitter account (twitter.com/stuaidalliance), provides an action center for contacting policymakers, and gives access to data on the prevalence of federal student aid by state and congressional district.”
In a speech last Tuesday at the National Press Club, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan highlighted the “quiet revolution” of change that many of the Administration’s innovative reform efforts have produced or helped inspire.
For example, as of last week 29 states have adopted the Common Core standards in Language Arts and Math, an impressive feat considering the history of local control that public education has endured through time. Duncan noted that 46 states plus the District of Columbia have applied for grants under the Race to the Top program, which challenges states to create better evaluation systems, among other improvements; and that the Department has received 1,700 applications for the Investing in Innovation (I3) competitive grant program to fund innovative practices that improve student achievement and decrease the dropout rate, among other criteria.
In noting the levers for successful education reform, Duncan cited three strategies: the bully pulpit, transparency, and incentives. The bully pulpit refers to the use of his and others’ influence to drive reform through school visits and countless conversations with parents, teachers, and other stakeholders. Duncan remarked that he strives to carry a message of urgency and gravity for education reform, stating that “education is the civil rights issue of our generation” and that “the achievement gap is unacceptable.” The strategy of transparency seeks to make transparent individual student growth as well as performance at all levels of accountability: the school, district, and state. Duncan noted that greater transparency will enable us to better tackle educational inequity, and he also stressed that we need to look at other indicators besides test scores such as attendance and high school graduation rates. Lastly, Duncan noted the successful reform that incentives help to drive, such as the 13 states that altered laws with teacher unions and other issues to become more competitive applicants for the Race to the Top grant. Duncan seemed sensitive to accusations by some civil rights groups that competitive grants are not proportionately awarded to high-minority, high-poverty schools when he cautioned to not “get caught between competitive and formula funding,” and went on to mention that 80% of our K-12 programs are formula-funded.
NASSP supports the Administration’s efforts to measure individual student growth and use multiple measures of success beyond just student test scores. We take issue, however, with the Administration’s strategy to tie Title I funding to states’ implementation of college-and career-ready standards. We support the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) and their college-and career-ready standards in Math and Language Arts, but do not believe that Title I funding should be used a bargaining chip with states for adoption of these standards. Instead, we would like to see Congress create an incentive pool of funds to encourage states to adopt high standards and provide additional funding to help students from poverty reach them.
Duncan concluded his speech by sharing the much-anticipated list of Phase 2 finalists for the Race to the Top grant: AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, HI, IL, KY, LA, MD, MA, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, and SC. The winners, expected to number between 10-12 states, will be announced in September.
Today, the first official public draft of common K-12 standards in English language arts and mathematics was released for comment by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center). CCSSO and the NGA Center have been leading the effort to create these standards as part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), which is a voluntary, state-led effort to develop and eventually adopt K-12 standards and college- and career-readiness standards that NASSP supports as an Endorsing Partner. In total, 48 states, the District of Columbia, and two territories support CCSSI. The only states that do not currently support the Initiative are Texas and Alaska.
In response to the release of these standards, Dr. Gerald N. Tirozzi, Executive Director of NASSP, issued the following statement:
“In a globally competitive society where students must meet the increasing demands of college or work, we believe that high standards should apply not only to school leaders, but also America’s students. Clear, consistent standards that spell out expectations are absolutely necessary to prepare our students for success–no matter where they are from or which path they decide to take after graduation. I am confident the K-12 draft standards released today are a solid step in the right direction, and NASSP strongly supports them and the Common Core State Standards Initiative.”
The standards are open for public comment until Friday, April 2, 2010. To view the standards, submit a comment, and find more information, visit www.corestandards.org.
View NASSP’s own position statement on voluntary National Academic Standards in K-12 Education here.
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today released the first official public draft of the college- and career-readiness standards in English-language arts and mathematics as part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a process being led by governors and chief state school officers in 51 states and territories. These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing, academic college courses and in workforce training programs.
The NGA Center and CCSSO are encouraging those interested in the standards to provide feedback, which must be supported by research and evidence, by October 21 at www.corestandards.org.
After the feedback period, the standards are subject to review by an expert Validation Committee. The Validation Committee is composed of national and international experts on standards. This group will review the standards development process and the substance of the standards to ensure they are research- and evidence-based. Members of the committee are being selected by governors and chiefs and will be formally announced in the coming weeks.
The NGA Center and CCSSO will soon begin the process of developing the K-12 standards that will enable students to meet the validated college and career-readiness standards.
“We are pleased to release the college- and career-readiness standards today and to begin receiving comments on them,” said Dane Linn, director of the NGA Center’s Education Division. “These standards are vital to ensuring our students are prepared to compete and succeed in a global economy. I would also like to thank Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for serving as the NGA co-leads on this initiative.”
“The college- and career-readiness standards are really just the beginning,” stated Gene Wilhoit, executive director of CCSSO. “We need this confirmed, validated goal of fewer, clearer, and higher standards to take on the real work of ensuring students have a roadmap from grades K-12 for achieving these standards.”
The college- and career-readiness standards have been informed by input from education and content experts and feedback from participating states. They were developed based on the following guiding considerations:
- Fewer, clearer, higher: It is critical that any standards document be translatable to and teachable in the classroom. As such, the standards must cover only those areas that are critical for student success.
- Evidence: Each document includes sources of evidence for the standards. Evidence informed what was included in the standards.
- Internationally benchmarked: These standards are informed by the content, rigor and organization of standards of high-performing countries and states.
- Special populations: In the development of these standards, the inclusion of all types of learners was a priority.
- Assessment: The standards will ultimately be the basis for a system of high quality assessments.
- Standards and curriculum: Standards are not curriculum. The curriculum that follows will continue to be a local responsibility (or state-led, where appropriate).
- 21st century skills: The draft English-language arts and mathematics standards have incorporated 21st century skills.
For more information, please visit www.corestandards.org.