Supporting Great Teaching Through Better Teacher Preparation

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Great teachers matter enormously to the learning and the lives of children. Every parent knows it, and study after study proves it.

Unfortunately, teachers, principals and researchers have made clear: too many teacher preparation programs today aren’t equipping teachers with the skills they need to be successful. Teaching is one of the most important and challenging careers, yet new research shows that many teacher preparation programs offer easy A’s instead of rigorous learning

That’s why ED today announced new regulations that will build on momentum to improve teacher training. The proposed regulations will be different than current reporting requirements – which focus almost exclusively on inputs – by establishing meaningful outcome indicators, like employment outcomes, teacher and employee feedback, and student learning outcomes.

The proposed regulations will also:

  • Encourage states to develop meaningful systems to identify high- and low-performing teacher preparation programs across all kinds of programs, not just those based in colleges and universities;
  • Reward only those programs determined to be effective or better by states with eligibility for TEACH grants, which are available to students who are planning to become teachers in a high-need field and in a low-income school, to ensure that these limited federal dollars support high-quality teacher education and preparation; and
  • Offer transparency into the performance of teacher preparation programs, creating a feedback loop among programs and prospective teachers, employers, and the public, and empower programs with information to facilitate continuous improvement.

The regulations would provide significant flexibility for states, allowing them to set performance thresholds and additional performance categories or indicators. Programs would be assessed using a minimum of four performance levels: exceptional, effective, at-risk, or low-performing.

These changes will not only create a new feedback loop among programs and prospective teachers, employers, and the public, but it will also empower programs with better information to facilitate continuous improvement.

Final regulations will be published in Summer 2015. You can learn more about the proposed regulations on our teacher preparation web page, which includes a printable fact sheet and PowerPoint presentation.

Re-connecting Youth to Opportunity: ED Announces the Performance Partnership Pilots Program

“We really need to break down the barriers between federal programs so we can better meet the needs of our most vulnerable youth”, says Lori Kaplan, President and CEO of the Latin American Youth Center in Washington D.C. “Many of the young people we serve come to us with a multiplicity of needs. These kids often require multiple interventions, over longer periods of time than is currently allowable under some federal programs.”

Over five million 14-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. are out of school and not working. In many cases, they face the additional challenges of being low-income, homeless, in foster care, or involved in the justice system. In response, five federal agencies are coming together to offer a new opportunity to help communities overcome the obstacles they face in achieving better outcomes for these “disconnected youth,” as well as those at risk of becoming similarly disconnected from critical social institutions and supports. Secretary Arne Duncan emphasized the importance of this unprecedented Federal collaboration to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable youth, saying, “We have reduced the dropout rate to a historic low, but we can’t stop there. We need to find better ways to reconnect the millions of young Americans who are not engaged in education, training, or work. This new performance partnership effort gives state, local, and tribal leaders the flexibility to develop innovative solutions to more effectively serve these “opportunity youth”, and put them on a path to the middle class.”

For the next 100 days, state, tribes, and municipalities can apply to become a Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) to test innovative, outcome-focused strategies for achieving significant improvements in educational, employment, and other key outcomes for disconnected youth. This initiative is one of the more promising and exciting opportunities to move the needle on improving the outcomes for over five million young people in our cities, states, and native communities.

This P3 initiative enables up to 10 pilots to blend together funds that they already receive from different discretionary programs administered by the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services and the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

P3 allows new flexibility under federal statutes, regulations, and other requirements to overcome barriers and align program and reporting requirements, enabling applicants to propose the most effective ways to use these dollars. In addition, pilots will receive start-up grants of up to $700,000.

Government and community partners already invest considerable attention and resources to meet the needs of America’s disconnected youth. However, practitioners, youth advocates, and program administrators on the front lines of service delivery have let us know that achieving powerful outcomes is still sometimes inhibited by programmatic and administrative obstacles, such as poor coordination and alignment across the multiple systems that serve youth and fragmented data systems that inhibit the flow of information. P3 responds directly to these challenges by offering broad new flexibility in exchange for better outcomes.

As an evidence-based initiative, P3 will prioritize applicants whose proposals draw on existing evidence of what works and show that they will collect and use reliable data for decision-making and accountability. Applicants that propose to rigorously evaluate at least a component of their pilot will receive competitive preference. In order to look across all pilot sites, the Federal agencies will initiate a national P3 evaluation to examine implementation and build the base of knowledge of how to best serve disconnected youth.

In order to test this new authority in diverse environments across America, P3 includes priorities for applicants that propose to serve disconnected youth in rural communities, and applicants that propose to serve disconnected youth in tribal communities.

Applicants will have 100 days to submit their applications, and the Federal agencies plan to announce the pilot sites in late spring 2015. Lead applicants must be a State, local, or tribal government entity, represented by a chief executive. The lead applicant will submit the proposal on behalf of a partnership that involves all public and private organizations (including non-profit, business, industry, and labor organizations) participating in the pilot. Although non-governmental entities are not eligible to be a lead applicant, they may still serve as key partners in designing and implementing pilots.

To hear representatives from Federal agencies present the details of the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) on P3, including application requirements and selection criteria, for potential applicants, please register and join us for the P3 National Webinar on December 1st, from 3:30 to 5 pm EST.

Additional Resources:

Findyouthinfo.gov

P3 Application Package

Johan Uvin is the Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education and the co-chair of the federal Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth.

Ensuring a Global Education for All Students

Our world has never been more interconnected or interdependent. We’re all global “neighbors,” and each of us can make a commitment to understanding each other and working together.

Each November, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and State invite educational institutions and cultural programs to celebrate how they prepare people to become effective global citizens and attract students from abroad to study, learn, and share ideas with their peers in this country.

This year, International Education Week runs from Nov. 17 through 21.

Here at ED, I work in the International and Foreign Language Education office researching our grantees’ practices and successes, particularly related to outreach to minority serving institutions and community colleges, local teachers, and colleges of education.

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Katrina Dillon is a former teacher who is helping educators to foster global understanding in their students. (Photo credit: University of New Mexico)

To learn more about how our university partners work to foster global understanding on the local level, I recently interviewed Katrina Dillon—a former teacher—who is helping educators to foster global understanding in their students.

During her time as an elementary and middle school teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dillon used to struggle to find content that reflected the diversity in her classroom, which includes a large number of Latino students.

“Students need to see themselves in the curriculum, and as their teacher, you feel responsible for filling in those gaps in content,” Dillon explained.

Today, Dillon works at the Latin American and Iberian Institute (LAII) at the University of New Mexico, where she develops resources that teachers around the country can use to infuse their K-12 curriculum with rich, culturally appropriate content. The LAII is one of 100 National Resource Centers supported by grant funding from ED under Title VI of the Higher Education Act. As part of the outreach at the LAII, Dillon said, “We’re trying to create materials with content we feel is relevant across the board for students.”

The Institute’s offerings include the Vamos a Leer blog and a monthly book club that highlight Latino and indigenous literature, as well as resources such as ¡Viva la Revolución! An Educator’s Guide to the Mexican Revolution. These works contain lesson plans, background information, activities, and novel and film guides to help educators incorporate Latin American history and culture into the classroom. The Institute also hosts workshops with topics like, “How to Teach About El Día de los Muertos,” to train teachers to bring Latin American content into the classroom.

Dillion working with teachers during the “How to Teach About El Día de los Muertos” workshop. (Photo credit: University of New Mexico)

Dillion working with teachers during the “How to Teach About El Día de los Muertos” workshop. (Photo credit: University of New Mexico)

In addition to her work at LAII, Dillon is a doctoral candidate in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico. After graduation, she hopes to continue working with students in teacher education programs to advance the mission of ensuring a global education for all students.

Through my studies, my internship at the Department, and in talking with educators like Katrina Dillon, one thing has become increasingly clear—rich, international education is necessary. In a country as diverse as ours, students can benefit from learning to interact comfortably and confidently with people from all backgrounds and points of view. Our students also can benefit from understanding their own cultures and backgrounds, and how their histories and values contribute to the richness of the American experience.

Kaley Palanjian is a junior at Georgetown University studying linguistics, with a minor in education, inquiry, and justice. She is interning in the Office of Postsecondary Education for the International and Foreign Language Education office.

More than 1,200 School Superintendents Take the Future Ready District Pledge

Cross-posted from The White House Blog.

Earlier today, speaking to more than 100 school superintendents in the East Room of the White House, President Obama launched a new effort to assist school leaders in their transition to digital learning with the Future Ready Digital Pledge.

The Future Ready Digital Pledge is part of the President’s ConnectED initiative, which empowers teachers with the best technology and the training to make the most of it, and empowers students through individualized learning and rich, digital content. ConnectED also seeks to connect 99 percent of America’s students with high-speed broadband internet in their schools and libraries.

During his remarks, the President highlighted the significant gains our country has made in improving education during the last six years:

“Dropout rates are down. The graduation rate is the highest on record. More young people are earning college degrees than ever before.”

But he also noted that in a 21st century economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is knowledge — and the capacity to learn new knowledge — we still have work to do:

Right now, fewer than 40 percent of public schools have high-speed Internet in their classrooms — less than half. That’s not good, since we invented the Internet. That’s not good. It means that in most American schools, teachers cannot use the cutting-edge software and programs that are available today. They literally don’t have the bandwidth.

And even in schools where there is high-speed Internet, so often there aren’t enough computers to go around, so only a small percentage of our classrooms have the one-to-one ratio of students to computers or tablets. And that means that, in too many schools, if a teacher wants to use the Internet for a lesson, then kids have to crowd around one desk to follow along, or they have to break up into groups and sequentially come in.

More than 1,200 school superintendents have already signed the pledge, and have agreed to:

  • Foster a culture of learning through technology across their schools
  • Assist their students and families in the transition to high-speed connectivity
  • Provide their learners greater access to high-quality digital devices and content
  • Provide teachers and principals the support needed to use technology in innovative ways

Together, they will reach approximately 10 million students across more than 16,000 schools across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, the least we can do is expect that our schools are properly wired.”

Today’s “ConnectED to the Future” convening also featured new commitments from private and non-profit partners and from the U.S. Department of Education to support educators as they transition to digital learning. Learn more about today’s commitments here.

The President called the Future Ready Digital Pledge “a vision for digital learning in classrooms across America,” but cautioned that the pledge can’t stop with the superintendents:

Every kid needs every superintendent in America to sign this pledge — and then follow through on the pledge.  Our kids need every school district to make these commitments. Every child — whether they live in a big city, quiet suburb, the furthest reaches of rural America, poor districts, rich districts — every child deserves a shot at a world-class education.

That’s the promise we make as a nation great. That’s what makes our nation great — this fundamental belief that no matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, you can make it in this country if you work hard. You have access to the tools to achieve. If we keep working at this, that’s a promise we can make real for this generation and generations to come.

Read the Future Ready Digital Pledge here, and find out more about the ConnectED initiative here.

ConnectED to the Future Convening Brings Together Future Ready Superintendents at the White House

Today, President Obama will host “ConnectED to the Future,” a convening with superintendents and other educators from across the country, who will lead their schools and districts in the transition to digital learning.

The convening builds on the momentum of the President’s ConnectED Initiative, a plan to connect 99 percent of students to high-speed Internet, with the launch of the Future Ready Pledge. By signing on to this pledge, superintendents recognize the importance of building human capacity within schools and districts for effectively using increased connectivity and new devices to transform teaching and learning. Superintendents from districts across the country have signed the pledge. By doing so, they are demonstrating a commitment to work collaboratively with stakeholders to set a vision for digital learning; to empower educators through personalized, professional learning; and to mentor other district leaders in their transition to digital learning.

As part of today’s convening, the President will lead a digital pledge-signing ceremony, which will include the President and more than one hundred superintendents, who will be joined virtually by hundreds more education leaders from across the country.

During the convening, the U.S. Department of Education also will announce the release of two new publications, a toolkit called  Future Ready Schools: Empowering Educators through Professional Learning and a technical assistance guide called Future Ready Schools: Building Technology Infrastructure for LearningThe toolkit focuses on how districts can use technology to connect educators and provide tailored professional learning experiences to students. The technical assistance guide outlines specific and tangible examples that will help schools to improve their technological infrastructure.

The Department also will highlight a Dear Colleague Letter that identifies specific ways that districts can allowably and effectively use existing sources of federal funding for technology that can provide high-needs populations with personalized digital learning tools.

Over the next year, the Department, in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education, will host 12 Future Ready Regional Summits around the country to support district leaders in using technology to transform learning. The summits are designed to help districts create and implement district-wide action plans to fulfill their pledge to use technology to personalize learning. The summits will be open to all district leaders that take the Future Ready Pledge.

Since the President’s call to action in support of the ConnectED Initiative, more than $4 billion in public and private funding has been committed to the effort to expand high-speed Internet connectivity and wireless access in America’s schools and libraries.

Watch live at www.whitehouse.gov/live and connect with us via Twitter by following @OfficeofEdTech and #FutureReady.

Sara Trettin is Digital Engagement Lead in the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education.

Strengthening the AAPI Community Through New Bullying Prevention Efforts

Cross-posted from the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders blog.


Hines Ward, retired NFL wide receiver and former member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, shares his story on bullying.
Watch on YouTube

More than one-quarter of students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported being bullied at school during the 2010-11 school year — nearly 7 million students. Some Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students face bullying and harassment based on their immigration status, such as Micronesian students whose families have recently immigrated to the continent and Hawaii. Others are bullied for the way they look, such as turbaned Sikh youth, or for their English language skills.

Students who are bullied don’t feel safe, and students who don’t feel safe can’t learn. Students involved in bullying are more likely to have challenges in school, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to have physical and mental health issues. Being bullied endangers students’ academic achievement and ultimately their college and career readiness. And in some areas, bullying of AAPI students is rampant. For example, one 2014 study found that over two-thirds of turbaned Sikh youth in Fresno, California reported experiencing bullying and harassment. And another recent study found that half of the 163 Asian American New York City public school students reported experiencing some kind of bias-based harassment in a 2012 survey, compared with only 27 percent in 2009.

When children are singled out because of a shared characteristic — such as race, sexual orientation, or religion — or a perceived shared characteristic, the issue not only affects that individual but the entire community. Policymakers believe that AAPI students who are bullied face unique challenges, including religious, cultural, and language barriers. In addition, there has been a spike of racial hostility following the September 11 attacks against children perceived to be Muslim. The classroom should be the safest place for youth, but for some AAPI students, it can be a very dangerous environment.

Unfortunately, this issue of AAPI harassment is nothing new. In 1982, Vincent Chin became a household name in AAPI homes when he was attacked and killed because he was mistakenly perceived to be Japanese. To facilitate a conversation on this issue, in 2011, under the leadership of Amardeep Singh, former member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) hosted a Bullying Prevention Summit in New York City.

However, more work needs to be done. Earlier this month, on the fifth anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the White House announced several efforts to address hate crimes, including a new Interagency Initiative on Hate Crimes. As a part of these efforts, WHIAAPI, in partnership with theU.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is launching the AAPI Bullying Prevention Task Force to proactively address bullying in the AAPI community. In the wake of increasing concerns about the high rates of bullying among Sikh youth and incidents such as the attacks on as many as 30 Asian American students at South Philadelphia High School in December 2009, the AAPI Task Force will help ensure that the AAPI community is aware of federal resources and remedies available to them.

The AAPI Task Force brings together federal experts in civil rights, language access, education, community relations, public health, mental health, and data to find creative solutions to help the AAPI community. These experts will coordinate the efforts of their federal agencies to work closely together with stakeholders to better understand the impediments to seeking relief and support, analyze data regarding the prevalence of bullying in the AAPI community, improve outreach, develop training and toolkits for schools, students, and parents, and explore and recommend policies to address the AAPI community’s growing concerns about bullying of AAPI youth.

Building upon previous efforts and working closely with federal representatives and community leaders, I look forward to seeing the AAPI Bullying Prevention Task Force make much needed progress on this very important issue in the AAPI community and furthering our commitment to improving the quality of life of AAPIs.

Join the conversation on AAPI bullying prevention on Twitter using hashtag #AAPIstrong.

Kiran Ahuja is Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  

Empowering Today’s Economy by Training Tomorrow’s Workforce

Our nation’s prosperity depends on individuals having the education and skills to obtain good jobs and progress along their career pathways, and employers finding workers with the skills to support their growth and the nation’s economic prosperity. How well we educate our citizens and help hard-working Americans in entry-level jobs gain the skills they need to advance in the workplace matters. Together, businesses, working with the nation’s public workforce system, can support our ability to transform low-wage and entry-level jobs into gateways to the middle class.

Vice President Biden recently emphasized the importance of business engagement in his landmark report, Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity. The report highlighted seven key elements within a new “Job-Driven Training Checklist.” This checklist will continue to make our federal education, workforce, and training programs more responsive to business needs and more focused on evidence-based practices. Engaging employers is one of the key elements on that checklist, and all federal agencies are being asked to integrate the element across grant programs in workforce education and training.

That’s why we’re excited about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which President Obama signed into law this July. The overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation represents the most significant reform of job training programs in more than a decade. It emphasizes “upskilling” – working with businesses, educators, tech innovators, unions, training providers, cities, states, and nonprofits to expand access and opportunity for all Americans.

The Departments of Education (ED) and Labor, together with the Department of Health and Human Services, are working to engage stakeholders across the country and hear ideas about how to effectively implement the new law. We also want to send a special message to businesses nationwide: We want and need to hear from you.

This new law provides an unprecedented chance to engage the business community. For example, there are currently 24 million hard-working Americans who need training that puts them on a pathway to access thousands of vacancies available in more skilled, better-paying jobs. WIOA gives businesses the opportunity to partner with workforce investment boards, school districts, community colleges, and nonprofits nationwide to build career ladders for entry-level and other workers, and to drive and support regional sector strategies that meet the workforce needs of employers. Further, it continues to place businesses at the lead of state and local workforce investment boards, which look at regional workforce needs and strategically invest our nation’s funds.

Here are just a few ways that WIOA can work for your business:

  • Businesses can take advantage of increased access to work-based training. WIOA provides the ability for local workforce investment areas to help employers train their workers.
  • The law also increases reimbursement available for on-the-job training from 30 percent to 75 percent.
  • Under WIOA, businesses can collaborate with American Job Centers, community colleges, and adult education providers to develop integrated education and training programs—including Registered Apprenticeships—at the workplace to help employees gain basic and technical skills and advance to the next level of work. Further, this collaboration can support regional sector strategies and the development of career pathways that support job seekers and help meet the needs of employers.
  • There is an increased focus on serving out-of-school youth in WIOA. The new law requires local communities to spend at least 75 percent of available youth funding, or approximately $500 million, on this population. This provision goes into effect July 1, 2015. By partnering with the public sector to provide apprenticeships, internships, summer jobs, and other on-the-job training experiences, businesses can help the nation maximize opportunities for disconnected youth and build a skilled workforce.
  • Another feature of WIOA requires that the federal government measure the effectiveness of our services. We want to be sure that our programs add value. We need the input of business leaders to help decide on the right metrics.

At both ED and Labor, we value the contributions that business leaders can make in helping to craft workforce development solutions. We know there are many successful models for business and education partnerships across the country. But we also know that there is much more for us to learn.

We want to know about the innovative training solutions that your businesses are undertaking. How can we help you to take advantage of the opportunities under WIOA to train your workforce? What ideas do you have for measuring customer satisfaction?

Last month, during the third National Dialogue on Career Pathways, we heard from David L. Casey, Vice President of Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer at CVS Caremark, a Fortune 12 company.

Casey shared how CVS Caremark has invested in several training programs to upskill their workers, moving them from welfare to work and from entry-level staff to certified pharmacy technicians. Over the past few years, CVS Caremark has trained more than 90,000 apprentices and employed more than 20,000 students each summer. Importantly, this work was done in collaboration with state and local workforce agency partners.

Casey also issued a call to action to his peers to undertake just one thing—an internship, externship, apprenticeship program, or incumbent training—to increase the vitality and innovation of their workforce.

It’s inspiring to see businesses expand access to training and provide supports for Americans to access pathways into the middle class. By taking advantage of the new opportunities that the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides for businesses, business leaders can ensure that our nation’s workforce is highly skilled and competitive. Investing in America’s entry-level workers is an investment in our nation’s economic prosperity. It’s that simple.

We look forward to hearing about your ideas and your innovative training solutions. Send them to AskAEFLA@ed.gov. Together, we can make upskilling everyone’s business.

Thanks for sharing.

Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education and Tom Perez is U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Why Education Is a Global Matter

This year marks the 15th anniversary of International Education Week (IEW), a time to recognize, reflect, and celebrate the important role education plays worldwide.

Educators, families and students are working hard to implement a comprehensive vision for cradle-to-career improvements here in the U.S. so every child can receive a world-class education, and to ensure that our nation remains globally competitive. But U.S. education leaders are also committed to an international education agenda that’s deeper and more collaborative than ever.

In November 2013, at the invitation of Haiti’s education minister, Secretary Duncan visited Haiti and met with students, teachers, government officials, and other stakeholders.  National leaders in Haiti are committed to expanding educational opportunity and raising educational quality. We saw clearly that children in Haiti want an education and are willing to try despite the odds against them.   Read more about the Secretary’s visit here. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

In November 2013, Secretary Duncan visited Haiti and met with students, teachers, government officials, and other stakeholders. Read more about the Secretary’s visit here. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

That is why, during IEW 2012, Department of Education released its first fully-integrated international strategy, Succeeding Globally Through International Education and Engagement, linking our domestic and international priorities. Increasing the global competencies of all U.S. students, learning from other countries to improve our education policies and practices, and engaging in active education diplomacy will help to strengthen U.S. education and advance our nation’s international priorities.

Just last month, Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager shot in the head by Taliban gunmen for advocating for girls’ education, became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace prize. As she said, “We realized the importance of pens and books, when we saw the guns.” What a courageous and amazing young person. All of us – educators, parents, policymakers, and world leaders – desire a bright and happy future for our children and our nations. Education must help to ensure that future: a better educated world is a more prosperous world, a healthier world, and a safer world. When we became a Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) Champion Country  earlier this year, we committed to be leaders in this effort.

I’ve seen the difference education makes in my experience growing up in Chicago and later as head of the Chicago Public Schools; during my time in Australia when I worked with wards of the court; and in the communities and schools I’ve visited as Secretary. Two visits from the past year are particularly vivid for me: Columbus Elementary, situated just a few miles from the Mexico border, where students wake up before sunrise to cross the border for school each day and my trip to Haiti where I saw in the eyes of so many children the desire and commitment to get a basic education despite the odds against them.

I also place a high priority on benchmarking ourselves against other education systems and learning from them to see how we can improve. OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the international assessment of reading, math and science, has been an important yardstick for me because it is taken by 15-year-old high school students around the globe. The most recent PISA results show a picture of educational stagnation for the U.S., a wake-up call against complacency and low expectations. PISA also helps to show that there’s a false choice between equity and excellence: education systems as diverse as Canada and Korea can, and do, achieve both.

We know that a key component of educational success is starting early yet the U.S. is 25th in the world in our enrollment of four-year-olds in preschool. This gap highlights the urgency of our efforts to increase enrollment in high quality preschool. Young children in New Zealand, for example, can receive 20 hours of free early learning opportunities each week.  Data show that 95 percent of New Zealand’s children have had some early childhood education when they start school. The U.S. rate of 65 percent pales in comparison.

We hosted – with international and domestic partners – the first-ever International Summit on the Teaching Profession in 2011, bringing together ministers and union leaders with high-performing and rapidly improving education systems from around the world to discuss how to enhance and elevate the teaching profession worldwide. The summit proved such a success that it is now hosted annually by countries around the world.  What we heard at the summits have had an important impact on U.S. teacher policy, including RESPECT and Teach to Lead.

I hope, this week and every week, you’ll find ways to encourage and support the shared vision of International Education Week – that every child, in every country, grows up globally competent and appreciates cultural diversity.

Watch Secretary Duncan’s IEW 2014 message:

Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education.

National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards: Celebrating Great American Educators

What happens when you bring representatives of 340 exemplary American schools together?

Collaboration and engagement!

Euphoria, emotion, and energy characterized the two-day celebration of the 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools in Washington, D.C., on November 10th and 11th. The Blue Ribbon Award recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

Aba Kumi presents the 2014 Blue Ribbon School Award to representatives of Tibby Elementary School in Compton, California.  (Photo: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Aba Kumi presents the 2014 Blue Ribbon School Award to representatives of Tibby Elementary School in Compton, California. (Photo: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

More than 800 school representatives and supporters shared stories and ideas with one another and discussed how they could take their success stories to struggling schools across the country.

Secretary Arne Duncan answered questions from the assembled high-powered educators on topics ranging from early college high schools, early childhood education, and academic rigor.

Secretary Duncan high-fives Morgan Taylor, a 6th grade student at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Montgomery County, Md., after introducing him. (Photo: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Secretary Duncan high-fives Morgan Taylor, a 6th grade student at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Montgomery County, Md., after introducing him. (Photo: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning Libby Doggett kicked off the ceremony with a talk on student equity and empowerment. Former Superintendent of the Year Marcus Johnson rocked the room with stories of the “tenacious love” of school personnel. Sean McComb, the 2014 National Teacher of the Year, brought the audience to its feet with his deeply personal account of the instrumental role two high school teachers played at a critical moment in his life.

For eight principals, the ceremony occasioned a well-deserved moment in the spotlight as they were recognized with the 2014 Terrel H. Bell award for outstanding school leadership. The award, named for former U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel Bell, honored these exemplary principals:

  • Alicia Aceves of Andrews School in Whittier, CA brought her extensive reading background to focus intensely on student’s reading and writing skills through a school-wide Professional Learning Community and a daily intensive reading and writing block.
  • Candis Hagaman of Caldwell Early College High School in Hudson, NC restructured the rural high school to challenge students with college-level courses and create a robust, transparent, community of practice among faculty. Caldwell now graduates 100% of seniors.
  • Kathy Hunt of Edmond Doyle Elementary School in McAlester, OK, also the school’s arts teacher, has used an all-hands on deck approach, engaging all adults in her school and the business community to focus on improving student achievement in a high-needs community.
  • Melissa Helene Jacobs-Thibaut of Houston Academy for International Studies in Houston, TX began the school in 2006 to provide opportunities for first-generation college-goers and equips students with national and international travel experiences and rigorous project-based learning.
  • Robert Kern, Jr. of Nazareth Area Middle School in Nazareth, PA, came on board as the school was rebuilding its physical plant and struggling to exit academic warning status. Kern finessed both and introduced daily remediation/enrichment, character education, and a focus on the arts and health.
  • Robert Lyall of St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Kingman, KS led his rural school through its demolition and reconstruction as a high-achieving school that now trains other schools in data use and differentiated teaching. Tapping his staff’s expertise, he has created a safe, culturally rich environment.
  • Mario Marcos of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Compton, CA, focuses his school’s turnaround efforts around a philosophy that “Excuses Perpetuate Failure” and has rallied staff, families, and students to develop afterschool academic supports, project-based learning experiences, and character education.
  • Britani Creel Moses of LaVace Stewart Elementary School in Kemah, TX closed her school’s achievement gap by introducing a two-way bilingual Spanish-English curriculum, a vibrant pre-K program, a summer program for struggling students, and mentoring programs for both students and teachers.
The 2014 Terrel H. Bell Awardees, L-R: Kathy Hunt, Melissa Helene Jacobs-Thibaut, Mario Marcos, Candis Hagaman, Robert Lyall, Alicia Aceves, Britani Creel Moses, Robert Kern, Jr. (Photo: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

The 2014 Terrel H. Bell Awardees, L-R: Kathy Hunt, Melissa Helene Jacobs-Thibaut, Mario Marcos, Candis Hagaman, Robert Lyall, Alicia Aceves, Britani Creel Moses, Robert Kern, Jr. (Photo: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Aba S. Kumi is director of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program at the U.S. Department of Education.

3 Ways to Get Your Loan Out of Default

You didn’t pay your federal student loan for several months, and now a collection agency is calling you telling you your loan has defaulted. If you’re like many borrowers in this situation, you are probably freaked out and don’t know what to do.

options

Don’t worry — you still have options to remedy your situation. You don’t have to run from your debt; you can face it head-on and we can help you.

When you default on a federal student loan, you have three basic options to get your loan back in good standing:

  1. Loan Repayment: You can repay your defaulted loan, but just know that your lender will ask for the full amount. When you default, the entire balance of the loan is due immediately. If you are able, you can pay by check, money order, or credit or debit card. Get more info on where to send your payment. If this isn’t an option for you, keep reading.
  2. Loan Rehabilitation: You can rehabilitate your loan by voluntarily making at least nine payments of an agreed-upon amount over a 10-month period. You can choose your due date, and your payment has to arrive at the Department payment center within 20 days of that due date. You and the Department of Education must work together to agree on a reasonable and affordable payment plan. After you’ve successfully rehabilitated your loan, you may regain eligibility for benefits such as choice of repayment plan, loan forgiveness, deferment, and forbearance. However, it is possible that your monthly payment could increase after you make those initial nine payments due to the additional collection costs that are added to your principal balance.
  3. Loan Consolidation: You may be able to combine all of your federal student loans, including defaulted loans, into a new Direct Consolidation Loan. Usually, you are required to make at least three consecutive, voluntary, and on-time payments on your defaulted loans prior to consolidating. Please note that the principal balance of your new Direct Consolidation Loan may include accrued interest and collection fees. There is also an option to consolidate without making any payments; however, you must agree to one of our income-driven repayment plans as part of this consolidation, and you are required to complete income verification documents. Learn about your options for consolidating.

Now that you understand your options, it’s time to take action. First, contact the agency that is billing you to explain your situation, ask for more information on your options, and let them know that you want to work out a plan to get your loan back on track. In no time, you will be out of default and your loan will be back in good standing.

Tara Marini is a communication analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

Domestic, Dating, and Sexual Violence: Resources and a Call to Action

Americans nationwide are helping increase the awareness of domestic violence. The issue has dominated headlines recently in the wake of multiple incidents involving professional athletes in addition to Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. It is a far-reaching crisis that can have life-altering and often deadly consequences.

If you, a friend, or a loved one, is in an abusive relationship, the National Dating Abuse Helpline will offer immediate and confidential support. To contact the helpline, call 1‑866‑331‑9474, text “loveis” to 22522, or visit LoveIsRespect.org.

Every year, on average, more than four people  a day are murdered by their romantic partners in the United States. Men and women of all ages are at risk for domestic and sexual violence and its effects, which include: long‑lasting pain, increased risk of substance abuse, depression, poor academic performance, suicidal ideation, and future violence. Sexual and domestic violence are linked to a wide range of reproductive health issues including sexually transmitted disease and HIV transmission.

The fight against sexual violence on campuses is gaining momentum. Universities are working to educate students about Title IX through innovative new programs and reviving old ones, and students are increasing awareness and placing pressure for change on institutions. ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has published new guidance assisting counselors and advocates in helping and supporting victims. OCR has an increasingly important role in helping universities take responsibility for sexual misconduct on their campuses and in the reevaluation of sexual misconduct policies.

East Tennessee State University, for example, started an outreach and awareness program: Sexuality Information for Students; George Washington University is launching a new response committee to stop sexual assault on their campuses; the California State System is hiring a system-wide Title IX Compliance Coordinator; and in Kansas, the Board of Regents met with six state universities to coordinate their action to prevent offenses.

ED is dedicated to working with students, families, educators, and communities to prevent abuse and support survivors. The department, federal partners and countless schools and colleges nationwide continue to raise awareness, develop effective prevention strategies, and educate young people about healthy relationships. They recognize that the real work of preventing domestic violence, teen dating violence and sexual assault, happens at the local level, in schools, in homes, and in community centers across the nation.

Schools must clearly communicate that they will not tolerate violence of any kind, they will respond to any students who report it, and they will hold offenders accountable. ED is also vigorously enforcing compliance with Title IX and the Clery Act—laws that help make our schools safer.

The following resources provide more information to support schools and communities in their efforts to create safe, healthy learning environments and identify, investigate, and remedy domestic violence, teen dating violence and sexual assault:

Sarah Harris is an intern in the Office of Safe and Healthy Students at the U.S. Department of Education.

More States with High Graduation Rates

As a nation, it is critical that we prepare all students for success in college, careers, and in life. High school graduation is a vital point along that path, and the latest state-by-state graduation rates demonstrate our continued progress as a nation tackling this challenge.

This is the third year that states are using a common method, called the adjusted cohort graduation rate, to calculate four-year high school graduation rates. The new data, for the 2012-13 school year, indicate that 18 states have graduation rates at or above 85 percent, up from 16 states in the 2011-12 school year and nine in 2010-2011. This progress is a tribute to the tireless efforts of teachers, principals, parents, and other educators and staff, and of the students themselves. In this progress is consistent with the announcement this year that the nation’s overall graduation rate has hit 80 percent – the highest in our history.

It’s also worth noting the performance of individual states with the highest graduation rates, both for all their students and for traditionally underserved populations:

  • For the third year in a row, Iowa has the highest overall high school graduation rate at 89.7 percent
  • Kentucky, at 85.4 percent, had the highest graduation rate for economically disadvantaged students
  • West Virginia leads the nation with an 83 percent graduation rate for English Language Learners[1]

These 2012-13 graduation rates are state-reported data – states are responsible for verifying the accuracy of these data. States that have been approved for ESEA flexibility are using these four-year adjusted cohort graduation rates as a significant element in their school accountability systems.

In 2015, the National Center for Education Statistics will release a report updating the national on-time graduation rate for school year 2012-2013. These on-time graduation rates provide a measure of the proportion of students who successfully completed high school in four years with a regular high school diploma.

To explore the 2012-13 data use the ED Data Express Build a State Table Tool, and navigate to Achievement Data > Graduation Rate Data > Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates: 2012-13. This tool will also provide State Snapshots, and allow you to build cross-state comparisons using the Data Element Explorer.

Joshua Pollack is in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. 


[1] Although the adjusted cohort graduation rate provides a common measure of 4 year graduation rates for all states, there are still some differences across States in how they implement the rate, particularly for English learners and students with disabilities.