By Alyson Klein
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Wednesday that a big part of the federal role in education is protecting kids from “bad things, and unfortunately we have to do a lot of that.”
“It’s no secret that bullying and harassment is up right now. [President-elect Donald] Trump has, I’m not blaming him, but Trump has unleashed a lot of bad things in our schools that I don’t think we can afford to turn a blind eye to,” Duncan said at a forum at the Brookings Institute on the future of the federal role in K-12 education.
He talked about the efforts of the office for civil rights during the Obama years to stand up for students in special education, English-language learners, students who have been victims of sexual assault, and more.
Source: Arne Duncan: Part of Federal K-12 Role Is Protecting Kids From ‘Bad Things’ – Politics K-12 – Education Week
By Anya Kamenetz
For the fourth straight year, the U.S. high school graduation rate has improved — reaching an all-time high of 82 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, the Department of Education announced Tuesday. Achievement gaps have narrowed, too, with graduation rates ranging from 89 percent for students classified as Asian/Pacific Islanders to 62.6 percent for English-language learners.
“It is encouraging to see our graduation rate on the rise and I applaud the hard work we know it takes to see this increase,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement.
The growth in graduation rates has been steady since states adopted a uniform way of tracking the rate five years ago. This good news comes at the same time that performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (often called the “Nations Report Card”), has dipped. Scores on the SAT are down too.
via U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits Record High : NPR Ed : NPR.
By Allison Klein
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who pushed through an unprecedented level of change in K-12 education in his nearly seven years in office, has announced that hes stepping down in December.
John King, who is currently filling the duties of the deputy secretary of education, will head up the department as acting secretary until the end of the Obama administration.
The news comes as Congress wrestles with a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Both a bipartisan Senate education committee bill and a Republican-backed House bill would take aim at the administrations most-cherished priorities, including teacher evaluation through student outcomes, college-and career-ready standards, and aggressive school turnarounds.
via Arne Duncan to Step Down as Ed. Sec., John King to Head Up Department – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated 29 California public and four private schools that are being recognized as 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools.
The California winners of the coveted award are among 285 public (traditional, charter, choice, and magnet) schools and 50 private schools announced this morning by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
“California’s newly selected Blue Ribbon Schools are among the best in the nation and reflect our states commitment to preparing students for college and career,” Torlakson said. “We celebrate these models of excellence as they shine in the national spotlight. I congratulate all the hardworking students, teachers, parents, staff, and administrators who made this recognition possible.” The federal Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools from elementary through high school.
via Blue Ribbon Schools 2015 – Year 2015 (CA Dept of Education).
By Alyson Klein
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncans annual back-to-school bus tour is back in action and headed for the Midwest. And this years focus goes beyond K-12 policy. The theme is “Ready for Success” with a lot of emphasis on the bookends of the edu-spectrum: early and higher education.
The tour kicks off on September 14 and Duncan plant to make stops at a preschool in Kansas City, Missouri; a high school in Iowa to talk about college affordability with students and parents. And, also in Iowa, Duncan will chat with teacher leaders and shadow coaches at a middle school. In addition, hell talk family engagement at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. (The school was named after a black protestor killed in the Boston Massacre, which helped spur the Revolutionary War.)
via Arne Duncans Back-to-School Bus Tour to Focus on Preschool through Career – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By John Fensterwald
The State Board of Education isn’t giving up on the hope that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan might grant California at least a partial waiver from the No Child Left Behind law that he has given to 43 other states.
At its meeting on Thursday, the state board will consider asking the U.S. Department of Education to give school districts more authority to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in Title I funding for poor children on after-school or summer programs in math and English language arts. Districts currently must use that money – equal to 15 percent of their Title I funding for low-income students – on private tutoring companies over which districts have no control. Districts also must notify parents in low-performing schools of their right to transfer their children to better schools and must allocate 5 percent of Title I dollars to bus children to the new schools. Under the draft waiver proposal, districts could put unused transportation money toward district-run after-school and summer programs. The state is planning to seek a four-year waiver, starting this fall.
via State board again to pursue waiver from No Child Left Behind | EdSource#.VUkJymctHGg#.VUkJymctHGg.
By Grace Smith
This year, Congress is seeking to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and as a part of that goal create equity of opportunity, starting with the country’s youngest children. A document published by the US Department of Education this month, entitled A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America, spells out the issues at hand that must be addressed in order to offer quality early childhood education to families in every geographic area, of every race, and of every socioeconomic level.
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan begins the outline of how this will be done:
“I believe that every single child deserves the opportunity for a strong start in life through high-quality preschool, and expanding those opportunities must be part of ESEA [the Elementary and Secondary Education Act].”
If school readiness gaps between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers is not closed, the country will be unable to ensure that all children graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college, careers, and life, says the Department.
via US Dept of Ed Pushes for More High-Quality Preschools.
By Alyson Klein
More than a year ago, Congress was able to stave off the worst of across-the-board cuts to education and pretty much every other federal program. But, next year, the cuts could kick back in full force, both for domestic and military programs. (More on the impact on K-12 programs from whats known as sequestration here.)
Members of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending didnt discuss the sequestration cuts in serious detail during a hearing Thursday featuring U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. But the education secretary took a practice run at whats likely to become a full-throated effort to stop the cuts, saying they would hurt efforts to help disadvantaged children catch up to their peers.
via Arne Duncan Talks K-12 Cuts, Early Ed. at Senate Hearing – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
The five states that applied early—under a special, fast-track process—for renewal of their No Child Left Behind Act waivers have all gotten approved by the U.S. Department of Education Tuesday.
That means that Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Virginia will get to keep their waivers for another four years, to through the 2018-19 school year, meaning beyond the end of the Obama administration. The fast track renewal was intended, as a reward of sorts, for states that remained on track with their original waiver plans in the tricky area of teacher evaluation.
(For you waiver geeks, Minnesota wasnt in the initial batch of states tapped for the very special, expedited, and longer waiver renewal, intended for states that stayed on track with teacher evaluations. And it was not happy about being excluded. But apparently Minnesota joined the group at some point. I’m sure there’s a great “inside the bureaucracy” story there.)
via Arne Duncan Gives Five States Early Bird Renewal of NCLB Waivers – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Diane Ravitch
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s commentary for EdSource last month, called “How Not to Fix No Child Left Behind,” consisted for the most part of mushy platitudes that must be measured against the realities of his actions over the past six years.
During that time, Duncan has aggregated an unprecedented power to tell states and districts how to operate. The administration’s Race to the Top program was not passed into law by Congress, yet it was funded with $5 billion awarded by Congress as part of the economic stimulus plan following the 2008 recession.
Duncan used that huge financial largesse to make himself the nation’s education czar. When states were most economically distressed, he dangled billions of dollars before them in a competition. They were not eligible to enter the competition unless they agreed to lift caps on opening more privately managed charter schools, to rely on test scores to a significant degree when evaluating teachers, to adopt “college-and-career-ready standards” (aka the Common Core standards, which had not even been completed in 2009 when the competition was announced) and to take dramatic action to “turn around” schools with low test scores (such as closing the school or firing all or most of the staff).
via How to fix No Child Left Behind | EdSource#.VQMHqWctHGg#.VQMHqWctHGg.
By Alyson Klein
Extended learning time has been at the heart of many of the Obama administration’s school turnaround strategies. Schools that get money through the School Improvement Grant program have to extend the school day, or year. And states with waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act have to add extra learning time for “priority” schools (those that are among the worst in the state) .
But adding extra time to the day or year is a lot easier said than done, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center on Education Policy, a research organization in Washington. And it’s far too early to say whether adding time really has done much to move the needle on student achievement, in part because it’s early going and in part because extended learning time is usually paired with a lot of other strategies.
via Arne Duncan Asked Failing Schools to Add Instructional Time; Did It Help? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
We’ve got just a few more days before it’s time to put on the New Year’s Eve dancing shoes and break open the champagne. So what’s U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan predicting for next year?
More than 60,000 additional children will enroll in high-quality early learning. (I think he’s hoping for good results from the administration’s new Preschool Development Grant program and other initiatives.)
Six hundred new commitments by colleges, organizations, and companies will help thousands more students prepare for and graduate from college. (Sounds like he’s putting a lot of stock in the White House’s recent higher education summit.)
Ten million more students will have high-speed Internet access (That would mean a great success for the Obama administration’s E-rate initiative.)
America’s high school graduation rate will set a record—again. (Graduation rates were, indeed, at an all-time high this year, but it’s noteworthy that big achievement gaps remain. What’s more, the metric in question has only been required since 2008, and only uniformly used since 2012. Plus, grad rates went from 79 percent to 80 percent, hardly a dramatic jump. Still, a record’s a record.)
via Arne Duncan’s Edu-Predictions for 2015 – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Lauren Camera
Ahead of the U.S. Department of Education’s No Child Left Behind waiver guidance, expected this week, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Democrats who represent majority-minority districts are urging Education Secretary Arne Duncan to ensure the academic achievement of all students.
In a letter sent to Duncan Monday, Miller and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, asked the department to guarantee that states seeking a renewal of their waivers remain accountable for the achievement of all students, including minority students, students with disabilities, low-income students, and English language learners.
via Democrats Call on Ed. Department to Ensure Equity in NCLB Waiver Guidance – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Lauren Camera
Come ride—virtually, anyway—with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, as he heads out for his annual back-to-school bus tour. This year’s trip, scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8, to Wednesday, Sept. 10, will take the secretary and senior department officials to schools in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.
Politics K-12 readers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the trip, as I’ll be hopping aboard for that Tuesday’s long haul from Birmingham, Ala., to Chattanooga, Tenn., during which she’ll be blogging, tweeting, and sharing her photos on Instagram.
These Southern states exemplify the theme of this year’s tour, “Partners in Progress,” which is aimed at highlighting states’ commitments to the Obama administration’s education agenda.
via Arne Duncan to Head South for Annual Back-to-School Bus Tour – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein on
The U.S. Department of Education Monday detailed its long-awaited “50-state” strategy for putting some teeth into a requirement of the 12-year-old No Child Left Behind Act that has gone largely unenforced up until now: ensuring that poor and minority students get access to as many great teachers as their more advantaged peers.
States will be required to submit new plans to address teacher distribution by April of 2015, or just a few months before the department likely will begin to consider states’ requests to renew their waivers from the NCLB law. (Read a letter the department sent to state chiefs outlining the plan here.)
This isn’t the first time that the feds have asked states to outline their plans on teacher distribution, but the results so far haven’t exactly been a stunning success.
via Arne Duncan Unveils 50-State Teacher-Equity Strategy – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Christina Samuels
Evaluating states on the academic performance of students with disabilities—rather than focusing on how states comply with deadlines and paperwork—is an important shift away from “complacency,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a press call Tuesday.
The department is continuing its media rollout of a revised evaluation process that it calls results-driven accountability. The 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that states submit data to the Education Department about how students with disabilities are doing. But before this year’s annual report, states were only graded on what are called “compliance” indicators, such as whether students were evaluated for special education in the appropriate amount of time, or whether due process complaints were resolved in a timely fashion.
via Education Secretary Lauds Revised Special Education Evaluation System – On Special Education – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
A day before announcing that he wanted to withdraw Louisiana from the Common Core State Standards and tests, Gov. Bobby Jindal laid the groundwork for his decision, in part by accusing U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan of coercing states to adopt the standards. He even said that the feds had threatened Oklahoma (which recently ditched the standards) with a loss of federal funding.
“The proponents of Common Core claim it is not a federal takeover, but Secretary Duncan’s comments and actions prove otherwise. He has already threatened Oklahoma with a loss of funding, and we may be next,” Jindal said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
The problem? Duncan never actually told the Sooner State that it could lose federal dollars if it withdrew from common core. In fact, during a White House briefing, he said precisely the opposite, in response to a reporter’s question about Oklahoma’s funding future.
via Fact Check: Can a State Lose Federal Funds for Ditching Common Core? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
Summer starts this weekend, but that doesnt mean that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and company get to kick back and work on their tans. The department has a long and wonky to-do list for the summer and beyond, including some overdue homework assignments.
And some key, still-pending announcements could have big implications for extensions of states waivers from pieces of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Here’s a look at what to watch for:
• Some sort of peer-review process or other criteria for examining state assessments. This is a really big deal, in part because states must use tests aligned to standards that will prepare students for college and the workforce in order to keep their waivers from many of the mandates of the NCLB law. A handful of states were originally participating in one of two consortia developing these tests, but have since dropped out. The department has asked these states to submit a new “high quality plan” for developing other assessments. Peer review would also apply to the consortia tests, and presumably, any assessments for waiver states that have ditched the Common Core State Standards altogether (like Indiana).
via Five Items on Arne Duncans Summer To-Do List – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
Sixty years after the passage of Brown v. Board, there’s still a wide gulf in educational opportunities for low-income and minority students and their more advantaged peers, including when it comes to access to rigorous coursework aimed at preparing students for college and the workforce, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the audience at the Education Writers Association annual seminar here today.
For instance, a new analysis by the Department of Education’s office for civil rights, showed that just 68 percent of African-American students attend high schools that offer calculus. That’s compared to 81 percent of white high school students, and 87 percent of Asian American students. What’s more, American Indian and Native American students are much less likely than any other ethnic group to attend high schools that offer Advanced Placement classes, calculus, or physics.
“This dummying down of expectations is devastating to families, communities, and ultimately to our nation,” Duncan said. “We can’t continue to relegate talent and potential to the sidelines.”
via Arne Duncan Spotlights Inequities in Rigorous Coursework – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Michele McNeil
In the waning years of the Obama administration, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sees several important and difficult priorities ahead of him, he told Education Week in a wide-ranging 30-minute interview. Chief among them: The transition to new standards and tests, the debut of new teacher evaluations tied to test scores, and the costly drive to expand preschool.
That’s “a lot of change in a short amount of time—none of it easy,” he said in an April 11 interview in his Washington office. But if states and the federal government are able to navigate over a mountain of political and policy challenges, he said, then the result will “change education forever in some pretty extraordinary ways.”
via With Time Running Out, Arne Duncan Discusses His Lengthy To-Do List – Politics K-12 – Education Week.