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Archive for the ‘Department of Education’ Category


While speaking at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia, President Barack Obama laid out key changes to No Child Left Behind.

“I want every child in this country to head back to school in the fall knowing that their education is America’s priority,” Obama told the crowd. “Let’s seize this education moment. Let’s fix No Child Left Behind.”

Some of the items include:

  • A fair accountability system that shares responsibility for improvement and rewards excellence, and that is based on high standards and is informed by sophisticated assessments that measure individual student growth;
  • A flexible system that empowers principals and teachers, and supports reform and innovation at the state and local level; and
  • A system focused on the schools and the students most at risk — that targets resources to persistently low-performing schools and ensures the most effective teachers serve students most in need.

According to the Department of Education, NCLB’s broken accountability system means that the overwhelming majority of schools will not meet NCLB’s goals and the students most at risk won’t get the help they need. 

During his speech, the President praised current efforts by Congressional leaders to replace NCLB and urged Congress to make these vital reforms before the next school year begins. 

Sources: Department of Education, Whitehouse.gov

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While giving a speech at TechBoston on Tuesday, President Barack Obama stressed that any shrinkage in money for education would be irresponsible and harmful to the long-term health of the nation’s economy.

“But, and I want everyone to pay attention, even as we find ways to cut spending, we cannot cut back on job creating investments like education,” he told a crowd at TechBoston Academy in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. “There’s nothing responsible about cutting back on our investment in these young people.”

He added: “Fixing our schools will cost some money. Recruiting and rewarding the best teachers costs money. Making it possible for families to send their kids to college costs money. Making sure that some of the state of the art equipment all of you are working on … that costs money.”

Sources: The Associated Press, Bloomberg and Whitehouse.gov

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Major changes to state education policies have been recommended by the newly formed Digital Learning Council. Some of the ideas include abolishing seat-time requirements, linking teacher pay to student success, and overhauling public school funding models, Education News reports.

The council–headed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise and includes about 100 leaders across government, education, business, technology, and research–also suggests that, not only should all students have access to digital learning opportunities in the form of online or blended courses, but they should have choices between providers and methods of access.

The recommendations are part of the council’s 10 policy suggestions in a report issued Wednesday for states to use digital learning as a catalyst for education reform.

Read more on Edweek.org

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A wiki document, recently released by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), calls to attention the virtual learning items in all 19 finalists’ applications of the Race to the Top grant competition, Education Week reported. It revealed that the 10 winning states had strong online learn proposals and were ready to use Race to the Top funds to offer more online opportunities.

Here’s a highlight of some proposals:

  • Massachusetts’ application featured already-existing efforts to direct federal stimulus funds toward creating competency-based online and blended learning courses that mix face-to-face and virtual lessons for alternative school students.
  • New York is noted in the iNACOL report for the statewide technology plan it adopted in January that calls for exposing all students to online and blended learning opportunities.
  • Georgia’s plan indicated an interest in completely replacing seat-time standards, both in online and traditional classes. Rhode Island’s pointed to a similar, already-established system.
  • In Ohio’s application, the state’s Credit Flexibility Plan, which is being extended to all the state’s schools for the first time this fall, allows students to gain high school credit through alternative experiences that include online learning, internships, educational travel, or dual enrollment in a college course.

Read the entire article.

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Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the winners of the second round of the Race to the Top competition.

The 10 winning Phase 2 applications are: the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

During the second phase of the competition, 35 states and the District of Columbia applied for a portion of the $3.4 billion remaining funds. That list dwindled down to 19 finalists last month. The 10 winners were decided based on the scores they received from peer-review panels. All the winners received a score of more than 440 out of a possible 500. In the first phase of the competition, only the two winners, Delaware and Tennessee scored above 440.

The 10 winning applicants have adopted rigorous common, college- and career-ready standards in reading and math, created pipelines and incentives to put the most effective teachers in high-need schools, and all have alternative pathways to teacher and principal certification.

The $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund includes $4 billion for statewide reform grants and $350 million to support states working together to improve the quality of their assessments, which the Department plans to award in September.

Sources: ABC News and the Department of Education

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With the Obama administration sharply increasing federal financing to $3.5 billion this year to turnaround failing schools, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pushing to overhaul 5,000 of the nation’s 100,000 public schools in the next few years, scores of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school-turnaround experts as they compete for the money, the New York Times reports.

For example: a corporation, which has run into trouble with parents and authorities in several states for its charter school management business, has now opened a school-turnaround subsidiary, and a husband-and-wife team, which specializes in teaching communication skills but never led a single school overhaul, is seeking contracts in Ohio and Virginia.

Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonprofit group in Washington told the New York Times that many of the new companies seem unprepared for the challenge of making over a public school, yet neither the federal government nor many state governments are organized to offer effective oversight. Read the entire article.

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On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced 18 states and the District of Columbia as finalists for the final round of the Race to the Top competition. The list includes all of the states that were finalists in the first round, but lost, along with five additional states: Maryland, which did not compete in round one; New Jersey, which placed 18th; Hawaii, which placed 22nd last time; California, which placed 27th; and Arizona, which placed 40th. The returning finalists are: Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. In September, 10 to 15 grants totaling $3.4 billion will be awarded to applicants Duncan believes have the boldest, most sustainable plans for education improvements. Read more. (Source: Education Week and  msnbc)

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