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ESEA/NCLB Update #139

Science in Action: New NAEP Assessment 2009 Results

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administered a new generation of “hands-on” tasks allowing students to perform experiments with lab materials and other equipment as part of NAEP’s 2009 science assessment. For the first time, these assessments included interactive computer tasks in science. Though NAEP has used hands-on tasks in assessments since the 1990s, these new tasks offer better and more accurate data on how students respond to scientific challenges by requiring them to use a deeper level of planning, analysis and synthesis. Key discoveries included:

  • Students were successful on parts of investigations that involved limited sets of data and making straightforward observations of that data
  • Students were challenged by parts of investigations that contained more variables to manipulate or involved strategic decision making to collect data
  • The percentage of students who selected correct conclusions from an investigation was higher than for those students who could select correct conclusions and also explain their results.

NCES is the primary federal entity for that collects and analyzes data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences.

States get a second chance for Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

The secretaries of Education and Health and Human Services are seeking public comments for the proposed requirements of the Race To The Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT — ELC) Phase II grant competition. Phase II of the RTT — ELC makes awards available to states that applied for, but did not receive, funding under Phase I of the RTT — ELC competition held in fiscal year (FY) 2011. Specifically, they will consider the five highest-scoring eligible applicants (Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin) that did not receive funding in the FY 2011 RTT-ELC competition. States are eligible to receive 50 percent of their proposed grant amount and must scale back original application plans while still maintaining the goals of the program. The draft proposal can be found here.

Senate Committee passes S.3295—ED would get $400 million increase

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed S.3295 on June 14, 2012. This bill makes appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013.

The bill provides the Department of Education (ED) with a $400 million increase (+0.6 percent) over the current fiscal year. ESEA programs received a $121 million increase (+0.5 percent) compared to current funding. Most programs were level funded. A few programs received increases, including ESEA Title I, Part A (+$100 million, +0.7 percent); Advanced Placement (+$6 million, +20 percent); Fund for the Improvement of Education Programs of National Significance (+$18.4 million, +45 percent); Arts in Education (+$1.5 million, +6 percent); and, Promise Neighborhoods (+$20.1 million, +34 percent). Although it is authorized under separate legislation, Statewide Data Systems also received an increase of $15 million (+39 percent). Similarly, a few programs were reduced, including Transition to Teaching (-$7.9 million, -30 percent); and, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities National Programs (-$16.3 million, -25 percent).

The Fund for the Improvement of Education also includes $19.2 million for a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiative. “A portion of these funds will be used jointly with funds provided to NSF [National Science Foundation] for a program using a tiered-evidence model…that seeks to develop, evaluate, and scale-up proven practices that can help improve teaching and learning in mathematics .” The Senate bill also includes language “that will allow schools that receive SIG funds the flexibility to choose and implement a research-proven, whole-school reform model,” that is, a fifth model under School Improvement State Grants. This is the whole-school reform model included in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee’s ESEA reauthorization bill last year.

The bill modifies a set-aside under ESEA Title II, Part A, Improving Teacher Quality State Grants, “included in prior year bills for competitive awards to national not-for-profit organizations for recruiting, training, or providing professional enhancement activities for teachers or teachers and school leaders, particularly for high-need schools most likely to face shortages in these areas. The Committee recommends that up to 5.5 percent of funds available for the State grants for improving teacher quality program shall be used for this purpose; in fiscal year 2012, the set-aside was 1.5 percent. The bill language also differs slightly from prior years by allowing up to 10 percent of the set-aside funds to be used for related research, development, evaluation, dissemination, and technical assistance.”

The House of Representatives has not yet moved on its appropriations bill for education.

Deadline nears for Together for Tomorrow partnership challenge

The deadline is approaching to enter a multi-agency competition designed to promote and recognize school-community partnerships to improve the neediest schools. Applications for the Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Challenge must be filed by June 29, 2012. Sponsored by ED, the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the challenge invites schools, school districts, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations to promote partnerships that will measurably improve priority schools. Those applicants judged as meeting the challenge will receive national recognition and enter into a learning network. Challenge details and a link to the application can be found at http://tft.challenge.gov

Take Action: Tell Congress not to double student loan rates

In nine (9) days, some student loan interest rates are scheduled to double. Don’t let college become a luxury. Tell Congress to act now to stop student loan interest rates from doubling.  Click here.

(Published June 22, 2012)

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