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  • August 15, 2011
    Superintendent Monthly is a regular e-newsletter for superintendents and district staff that provides updates from Dr. Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Is this email not displaying correctly?
    View it in your browser. JULY 2011
    Message from Dr. Meléndez  As some of you may have heard, I recently accepted a position as superintendent of the Santa Ana Unified School District in my home state of California. While I'm absolutely thrilled to return to the field, I leave the Department of Education with mixed emotions, as I truly enjoyed this opportunity to affect education policy at the national level and to bring voices from the field into the work of the Department. During my time as assistant secretary, it was so important for me to focus our work on supporting you and helping to build the capacity of states, districts, and schools. Moving forward, I know that the Secretary is commited to continuing this work on supporting grantees and maintaining our focus on improving teaching and learning in our classrooms.

    In my new role as superintendent in Santa Ana, I will oversee a district with a student population of about 58,000 students. The district also serves a high percentage of low-income, Latino, and English language learner populations.

    My last day at the Department will be August 5. At this time, Michael Yudin, who currently serves as a deputy assistant secretary, will step in as acting assistant secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Michael is an incredible leader who will do a wonderful job in this time of transition, and I know that he is excited to work with all of you.

    It's been my absolute honor to serve as assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education on behalf of the superintendent community. I can't tell you how excited I am to return to a school district and work with students, families, communities, and school and district staff. I am grateful for the support that I received from the superintendent community throughout my tenure here, and I look forward to continuing our dialogue as we continue our work on behalf of children across the country.
    Title I Allocations To aid in some key calculations, the Department has published Fiscal Year 2011 Title I allocations by school district. Under No Child Left Behind, districts must spend up to 20% of their Title I, Part A allocation to cover school choice-related transportation costs and pay for supplemental educational services. Districts have some discretion to determine the allocation of funds between transportation and supplemental services, but all districts must spend at least a quarter (5%) of the 20% “reservation” on each activity if there is demand for both. Further, for supplemental services, districts are required to pay the lesser of the actual cost or an amount equal to the district’s Title I, Part A allocation divided by poor students in the district, as determined by estimates produced by the Census Bureau. Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/pfZqB3.
    School Turnarounds Introducing the School Turnaround Learning Community OESE recently launched the School Turnaround Learning Community (STLC), an online community of practice for state, district, and school leaders implementing school turnarounds. The STLC provides one-stop access to resources on school turnaround, and it promotes and facilitates sharing across states and districts to deepen learning on the issue over time. Available resources on the STLC include research-based practices and practical examples from states, districts, and schools inventing on-the-ground solutions. The STLC also facilitates regular activities such as training, discussions, and Q&A sessions with experts on school turnaround implementation. Learn more and join the community: http://www.schoolturnaroundsupport.org.
    Grant Information Investing in Innovation Program On June 3, the Department of Education kicked-off the 2011 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition to continue support for evidence-based practices in education. This second round of i3 makes $150 million available to individual school districts, consortia of districts, and non-profit organizations in partnership with districts or groups of schools. Three absolute priorities remain from last year’s grant competition: supporting effective teachers and principals, implementing high standards and quality assessments, and turning around persistently low-performing schools.  For this year’s competition, the Department has included two new absolute priorities focusing on achievement and high school graduation rates in rural schools and promoting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
    Deadline to Apply: August 2, 2011
    Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
    Who May Apply: Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) and non-profit organizations
    Learn More: http://1.usa.gov/nxI1C8
    Promise Neighborhoods On July 6, the Department released the application for the next phase of the Promise Neighborhoods program, including a second round of planning grants and new implementation grants, totaling $30 million. At the core of Promise Neighborhoods is a focus on improving education outcomes from cradle to career, as well and family and community support outcomes that include health, safety, community stability, family and community support of learning, and access to learning technology. Nonprofits, institutions of higher education and Indian tribes are eligible to apply for the $30 million fund to develop or execute plans that will improve educational and developmental outcomes for students in distressed neighborhoods.
    Deadline to Apply: September 6, 2011
    Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
    Who May Apply: Nonprofits, institutes of higher education, and Indian tribes
    Learn More: http://1.usa.gov/am4umE Department of Education Updates Testing and Teaching In the wake of new cheating allegations in districts, the Washington Post convened a roundtable on how best to approach teacher incentives in the education system, featuring opinion pieces by Secretary Duncan, Duke University behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely, Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Howard Gardner, and Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein. Below are some excerpts from the Secretary’s submission:
     
    “Recent news reports of widespread or suspected cheating on standardized tests in several school districts around the country have been taken by some as evidence that we must reduce reliance on testing to measure student growth and achievement. Others have gone even farther, claiming that cheating is an inevitable consequence of ‘high-stakes testing’ and that we should abandon testing altogether. To be sure, there are lessons to be learned from these jarring incidents, but the existence of cheating says nothing about the merits of testing. Instead, cheating reflects a willingness to lie at children’s expense to avoid accountability -- an approach I reject entirely.”

    Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/nEjNeH.
    Supportive School Discipline Initiative On July 21, Secretary Duncan joined Attorney General Eric Holder to announce the launch of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, a collaborative project between the two agencies that will address the “school-to-prison pipeline” and the disciplinary policies and practices that can push students out of school and into the justice system. The initiative aims to support good discipline practices to foster safe and productive learning environments in all classrooms. To implement the initiative, the agencies will coordinate with other organizations in the non-profit and philanthropic communities who are working to help ensure students succeed by dealing with inappropriate school discipline. Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/nbkBhn.Early Learning Grants On July 1, the Obama Administration published proposed competition criteria for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) and invited public input through Monday, July 11, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The proposal outlines draft requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions, in accordance with the program’s stated purpose: to improve the quality of early childhood programs in order to close the achievement gap for high-need children. Proposed criteria ask applicants to approve a common set of standards for children and early learning and development programs, promote high-level outcomes, implement high-quality, accountable programs, and support a strong early childhood education workforce. Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/jIa1Nw.
    College Costs The Department released several college affordability and transparency lists as part of its effort to help students make informed decisions about their choice for higher education. “The lists are a helpful tool for students and families as they determine what college or university is the best fit for them,” said Secretary Duncan. “We hope this information will encourage schools to continue their efforts to make the cost of college more transparent so students make informed decisions and aren’t saddled with unmanageable debts.” The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 called for these lists to be created by July 1 of this year. Under the requirements, six lists will be created. Three lists will focus on tuition and fees, while three lists will look at the institution’s “average net price,” which is the average price of attendance that is paid by full-time students after grants and scholarships are accounted for. Each list is broken out into nine different sectors, to allow students to compare costs at similar types of institutions. In addition, users can look up information on the prices of career and technical programs. Learn more: http://collegecost.ed.gov/.
    Civil Rights Data Collection The Department recently released Part 1 of a two-part biennial survey: the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The survey covers approximately 7,000 school districts and over 72,000 schools and has been enhanced and made further accessible through improved data collection, additional data indicators, and publicly accessible online tools for analysis. The data provides parents, educators, and policymakers with critical information to assist them in identifying inequalities and targeting solutions to close the persistent achievement gap in America.

    Part 2 of the CRDC is expected to be released this fall. It will include the numbers of students passing Algebra I, taking AP tests, and passing AP tests, expanded discipline data, data on restraint and seclusion, retention data by grade, teacher absenteeism data, school funding data, and data on incidents of harassment and bullying. State and national projections, based on the sample data collected, will also be available before the end of the year. Learn more: http://ocrdata.ed.gov/.
    Upcoming Events Summer Seminars at Six Starting July 14 and continuing every other Thursday through August 25, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET, the Department is hosting “Summer Seminars at Six,” a four-part summer information series for teachers. The seminars are designed to share information about education policy that will help educators to be engaged and participate in policy discussions at the federal, state, and local level. Led by teachers working at the Department, along with other agency staff, there will be opportunities for questions and conversations in person and online. Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/nztsAh.  follow ED on Twitterforward to a friend   unsubscribe from this list | update subscription preferences | view email in browser

    This newsletter contains hypertext links to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations.  These links are provided for the user’s convenience.  The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information.  Furthermore, the inclusion of links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.


  • August 15, 2011
    Superintendent Monthly is a regular e-newsletter for superintendents and district staff that provides updates from Dr. Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Is this email not displaying correctly?
    View it in your browser. JUNE 2011
    Message from Dr. Meléndez As the school year draws to a close, I hope you've had some time to reflect on the past year's successes and challenges, as well as celebrate the accomplishments of your students and graduates! I love graduations myself -- when I was superintendent, I made sure to attend every single high school graduation, and shake hands with all of the nervous graduates. It's a wonderful reminder of why we do this work every day.

    You may already have your sights set on the next challenge of the 2011-2012 school year. But first, I want to thank you for your tireless work throughout the year on behalf of our students. Being an educator is one of the toughest jobs out there, but I know that you have chosen this field because of your passion for helping children. We in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education are committed to better supporting you in your work, and I hope you'll continue to share with us ways that we can partner with you to ensure that all of our students are successful in school, and in life.
    ESEA Reauthorization On June 12, Secretary Duncan penned an op-ed explaining the urgency of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and, if necessary, addressing No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB) problems through regulatory flexibility.  He stressed regulatory flexibility will not replace comprehensive reform or give states and school districts a pass from accountability.  Instead, the goal is to “unleash energy at the local level, even as Congress works to rewrite the law, giving states, districts, and schools the flexibility they need to raise standards, boost quality, and improve our lowest-performing schools.”

    The Administration released a Blueprint outlining proposed changes back in March 2010, and, last March, President Obama reissued a call for reform. Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/kgl3tl.
    Diverse Populations Meet the Expert: Dr. Meléndez Featured on Colorín Colorado

    Colorín Colorado, a free web-based, bilingual service that provides information, activities, and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English language learners, has posted a new video interview with Dr. Meléndez for their "Meet the Expert" series.

    Through this series of videos, Dr. Meléndez talks about her thoughts on how educators and administrators can better support the growth and success of English learners and shares her memories of her favorite teacher and growing up as an English learner. Learn more: http://bit.ly/lrMg1l.

    Deputy Assistant Secretary Speaks at Foster Care Event On June 2, Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin shared the stage with Commissioner Bryan Samuels of the Administration of Children, Youth, and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at a national event, "Building Partnerships, Impelmenting Change: Educational Stability for Students in Foster Care." The event, co-sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Education Association, and Casey Family Programs, convened participants from education and child welfare arenas to collaborate on implementation of the educational stability mandate of the Fostering Connections Act of 2008. In his remarks, Mr. Yudin spoke to the broad efforts at the Department of Education to ensure a quality education for every child, including those in foster care.
    Grant Information Innovation Grants On June 3, The Department of Education (ED) kicked-off the 2011 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition to continue support for evidence-based practices in education. This second round of i3 makes $150 million available to individual school districts, consortia of districts, and non-profit organizations in partnership with districts or groups of schools. Three absolute priorities remain from last year’s grant competition: supporting effective teachers and principals, implementing high standards and quality assessments, and turning around persistently low-performing schools.  For this year’s competition, ED has included two new absolute priorities focusing on achievement and high school graduation rates in rural schools and promoting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. 

    ED will offer pre-application workshops in the coming weeks (June 17 in Washington, D.C., June 24 in San Francisco, and June 28 in Houston), along with several webinars on key topics. 

    Deadline to Apply: Applications are due on August 2, but applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a notice of intent to apply by June 23.  Awards will be made no later than December 31. 
    Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
    Who May Apply: Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) and non-profit organizations
    Learn more: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/innovation/
    Fiscal Year 2011 Grants Forecast ED’s Fiscal Year 2011 Grants Forecast (as of June 21) lists virtually all programs and competitions under which the agency has invited or expects to invite applications for awards and provides actual or estimated dates for the transmittal of applications under these programs.  Learn more: http://www2.ed.gov/fund/grant/find/edlite-forecast.html.  (Note: This document is advisory only and not an official application notice of the Department of Education.)
    OESE News Announcing the Office of Safe and Healthy Students and the Office of School Turnaround Last week, Dr. Meléndez announced the creation of two new offices within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE): the Office of Safe and Healthy Students and the Office of School Turnaround.

    The Office of Safe and Healthy Students will house programs formerly administered by the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. This addition will broaden the scope of OESE's grant portfolio, strengthening the Department's ability to assist States, districts, and schools improve the quality of education offered to the nation’s children and youth.

    Building off of the successes of the School Improvement Grant (SIG) team, OESE's Office of School Turnaround will help focus ED's support to States, districts, and schools as they implement critical reforms to turn around our lowest-performing schools.  The Office of School Turnaround will be responsible for the administration of the SIG program and will play an important role in ensuring that our support of State and local turn around efforts is coordinated across ED programs. The office will be led by Jason Snyder, who will serve as a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy.The structure and staffing of both offices will be determined in the coming months and we will provide additional information as it becomes available.Dr. Meléndez Speaks at the National Conference of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

    On June 16, Dr. Meléndez gave a keynote speech at the national conference of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS). In her remarks, Dr. Meléndez reaffirmed the commitment of BBBS to serving the country's neediest youth, particularly those from low-income and minority backgrounds. Studies have shown that mentors have a positive effect on all aspects of their mentees' lives -- in school, at home, and with friends. Organizations like BBBS are also critical partners for schools and districts across the country that provide the necessary support students need for academic and personal success.

    Dr. Meléndez was invited to speak at the event by one of her own mentors, Dr. Raymund Paredes, who serves as the chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Nationwide Hispanic Advisory Council, and is currently the commissioner of higher education for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. She said, "I'm honored to be able to share my own experiences with wonderful mentors like Dr. Paredes and to provide encouragement to current mentors who are changing lives, one on one."

    Department of Education Updates Gainful Employment Recently, after an 18-month negotiation with the higher education community, the Administration released final regulations requiring career college programs to better prepare students for “gainful employment” or risk losing access to federal student aid.  While many career college programs are helping to prepare America’s workforce for the jobs of the future, far too many students at these schools are taking on unsustainable debt in exchange for degrees and certificates that fail to help them get the jobs they need or were promised.  The regulations, which go into effect on July 1, 2012, are designed to ramp up over the next four years, granting colleges time to reform while protecting students and their families from exploitative programs. Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/jlhnvm.Equal Access Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students are the targets of a disproportionate share of bullying.  According to a new survey, more than 90% of LGBT students in grades 6-12 reported being verbally harassed, and almost half reported being physically harassed during the 2008-09 school year.  In a June 14 “Dear Colleague” letter, Secretary Duncan reminds public secondary schools of their obligation under the Equal Access Act to treat all student-initiated groups equally, regardless of the religious, political, philosophical, or other subject matters discussed at their meetings, including matters involving sexual orientation and gender identity.  A set of legal guidelines issued by the Department affirms the Equal Access Act’s principles by providing schools with the information and resources they need to help ensure that all students have a safe place to learn, meet, and share experiences. Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/my7E6B. Upcoming Events June 30 - League of United Latino American Citizens (LULAC) National Convention Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin will participate in a panel discussion at the LULAC National Convention titled "Strategies for Enhancing the Success of Latino Students." Mr. Yudin will discuss ED and OESE’s initiatives to support the success of all learners, including Latino and other diverse learners.
    July 11 - National Principals Leadership Institute and Panasonic National School Change Awards Deputy Assistant Secretary Carl E. Harris will provide remarks at the National Principals Leadership Institute and the Panasonic National School Change Awards ceremony, which honors schools across the country for dramatic improvement. In addition to celebrating the accomplishments made by the award winning schools, Dr. Harris will reiterate ED's commitment to the school turnaround process and to supporting schools and districts as they undertake the difficult work.  follow ED on Twitterforward to a friend   unsubscribe from this list | update subscription preferences*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* | view email in browser*|END:IF|* 

    This newsletter contains hypertext links to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations.  These links are provided for the user’s convenience.  The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information.  Furthermore, the inclusion of links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.


  • September 1, 2010

    The School Turnaround Newsletter works to link SEAs and LEAs with tools and resources that will help them succeed in turning around persistently lowest achieving schools. For more information on the newsletter or school turnarounds, please visit our program homepage.