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ESEA/NCLB Update #135

Great schools are safe schools

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools held a National Summit on Gender-based Violence Among Young People on April 6-7. The Summit brought together organizations, educators and federal, state and local leaders to discuss ways to end gender-based violence among young people. Secretary Duncan remarked, “No school can be a great school unless it’s a safe school.” Earlier in the week Vice President Biden and Duncan announced new guidance to help schools, colleges and universities better understand their obligations under federal civil rights laws to prevent and respond to the problem of campus sexual assault.

ED and HHS invest in early education reform

This week, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that $133 million from the 2012 Race to the Top (RttT) fund will be available for continued investments in state-level, comprehensive early education reform. The Departments intend to fund down the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 slate and invite the next five applicants, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin, to apply for funding. Eligibility for 2012 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funding was based on the strength of applications among states that participated but did not receive awards in the 2011 competition. New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois, and Wisconsin each earned approximately 75 percent or more of total points possible on a 300-point scale in the 2011 competition. The five states will each be eligible to apply for up to 50 percent of the requested award amount in last year’s application. Original grant applications are available for viewing on the Department of Education’s website:

A drop in spending for our earliest learners

Even as ED and HHS announce new monies for the RttT Early Learning Challenge for New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Illinois, and Wisconsin, Ed Week reports that while enrollment in early state-funded preschool programs doubled in the last ten years, a decline in funding in many states has led to a decrease in quality. Citing information from the most recent report from the National Institute for Early Education Research, the paper reports that 26 of 39 states have cut funding from programs that serve mostly low-income 4-year-olds.

School Improvement Grants (SIG) are on the right track—for the most part

A recent report -- Opportunities and Obstacles: Implementing Stimulus-Funded School Improvement Grants in Maryland, Michigan, and Idaho by the Center on Education Policy looked at the implementation of SIG grants in three states with different approaches to school improvement. Officials in all three states expressed “optimism” that the SIG grants were supporting reform. Maryland and Michigan were more supportive of the grant requirements than Idaho. Idaho was concerned about identifying schools in a rural state. CEP consultant and coauthor Caitlin Scott commented, “Idaho officials said several program requirements are less workable in a rural setting. They believed that the criteria for identifying the lowest-performing schools didn’t always target the right schools and that it was very difficult for rural districts to replace staff, as required by some of the SIG school improvement models.” NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign teams with parents, principals, community organizations and elected leaders through NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign, focusing attention on raising student achievement in struggling schools.

Action plan to improve measures of postsecondary success

In an effort to more accurately measure postsecondary success, ED released an action plan that focuses on student persistence and completion. Current law requires that schools track graduation rates for full-time, first-time students only. The additional reporting requirements expand the law to include part-time and returning students. Responding to recommendations made by the Committee on Measures of Student Success, the action plan requires that four-year as well as two-year institutions implement broader measures of student success. The timeline for implementation of the new reporting requirements will be released in the near future.

Inequities noted in recent NCES arts education survey

The research arm of the U.S. Department of Education released a recent survey highlighting inequities in the availability of arts education in public schools. The National Center for Education Statistics study from the 2009-2010 school year included national data about arts education for public elementary and secondary schools. Generally, the data showed that students attending schools with higher concentrations of poverty had fewer opportunities to take music, visual arts, dance, and drama/theatre classes than students in low-poverty schools. The study noted that most public elementary schools offered music and visual arts education, with far fewer offering dance and drama.

Relaunch of

Last week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the re-launch of The redesigned site comes after the President and First Lady and Secretaries Duncan (ED) and Sebelius (HHS) hosted the first ever White House event focused on bullying prevention. The new site has concrete steps for everyone to take to stop bullying. Policies and laws, both state and federal for all fifty states and the District of Columbia, on bullying are available. The NEA’s campaign, Bully Free: It Starts With Me, offers educators, parents, students, and community members tools and tips for dealing with bullying behavior. NEA President Van Roekel urged educators to be the “one caring adult” who makes a difference to a bullied child.

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