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ESEA/NCLB Update #126

Eleven states file for NCLB waivers

Eleven states met the first federal deadline to apply for NCLB waivers, spelling out in their applications how they plan to meet the Department of Education’s (ED’s) waiver requirements. The states are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Education Secretary Arne Duncan applauded the states saying, “We set a high bar and an aggressive deadline, but these states rose to the challenge.” The individual state applications can be found online on ED’s flexibility page. Decisions on the first round of applications are expected by mid-January or before, according to ED. States may still apply for ESEA flexibility by applying in the second round. Applications are due in February.

EdWeek: collaboration essential to waiver success

EdWeek reports that collaboration will be a key factor in evaluating waiver applications, and that federal officials warn that failure to engage stakeholders in the planning process could lead to rejection of a waiver request. ED spelled out the requirement for collaboration in the waiver principles released in September. The principles require that states provide a description of how they “meaningfully engaged and solicited input” on their applications from “teachers and their representatives” and “other diverse communities, such as students, parents, community-based organizations, civil rights organizations, organizations representing students with disabilities and English Learners, business organizations, and Indian tribes.” In addition, the principles require that states consult their Committee of Practitioners.

Race to the Top Round 3 applications available

ED has released applications for $200 million in funds for Race to the Top Round 3. States eligible to apply are Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. Applications will be processed in two stages. In the first stage, a state must provide assurances to ED by November 22 that it is implementing the Department’s reform agenda. If the Department is satisfied, then the state may submit by December 16 a complete plan and budget that includes a focus on STEM education. ED plans to announce awards in late December.

House education subcommittee discusses education research

The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing on education research and its use titled Identifying Effective Programs for Teachers and Students. Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) stated in his opening remarks that research can support schools because “the resultant data allows teachers, parents, and officials to gain a greater understanding of successful interventions, school performance, and student achievement.” In a letter to the House Education and Workforce Committee, NEA urged lawmakers to support independent education research in:

  • Turnaround strategies to help struggling schools
  • Specific instructional strategies and techniques and their impacts on student learning
  • The best practices regarding online instruction and learning
  • The correlation between more comprehensive teacher evaluation systems linked to professional development and teacher practice and student learning

NEA stresses partnerships for K-12 success

NEA joined with Parenting Magazine to release a new report, Family-School-Community Partnerships 2.0: Collaborative Strategies to Advance Student Learning. The report, part of NEA’s Priority Schools campaign, is designed to support families, educators, and community partners working together by identifying key partnership efforts in 16 communities. The report also identifies ten key strategies for effective family-school-community partnerships and makes recommendations on scaling up and strengthening the work. Recommendations are made at the school, local, state, and national levels. NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen stated during the unveiling of the report that “NEA is working hard to raise awareness about the important roles that parents, families and communities can play in raising student performance. This guide builds upon NEA’s long advocacy for policies and practices that encourage and enable parents, families, and communities to become actively engaged in public schools.”

Public Education Network sets goal of 100,000 more college- and career-ready graduates

The Public Education Network (PEN), a national network of 77 local education funds (LEFs), recently announced a plan to increase the numbers of college- and career-ready high school students by 100,000 by 2013. According to a press statement, PEN and LEFs are working with local partners to increase the number of prepared students in low-income and minority communities by: “monitoring low-income students' progress toward college readiness; ensuring completion of college prep curricula (e.g., algebra in 8th grade); boosting completion of accelerated learning courses (Advanced Placement/dual enrollment in colleges); improving scores on college entrance exams (ACT/SAT); increasing FAFSA (financial aid application) completion rates; and tracking college enrollment and persistence data.”

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