Meet the Expert: Dr. Melendez 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. Melendez for their “Meet the Expert” series.

Through this series of videos, Dr. Melendez talks about her favorite teacher, her experiences growing up as an English learner, and her thoughts on how educators and administrators can better support the growth and success of English learners. In the video below, Dr. Melendez recounts a story about Jesus, a special first grade student.

The rest of the videos and the transcript of the video can be found here.

The Power of Mentors

I’m headed to Dallas in a few days to give a keynote speech at the national conference of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS). I’m excited to be able to meet the wonderful staff, mentors, and mentees who are part of this organization, and to help them reaffirm their commitment to serving our 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 our schools and districts, to provide the necessary support our children need for academic and personal success.

This event also has a special meaning for me, because I was invited to speak by one of my 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. I first met Dr. Paredes as a college student at UCLA, and he’s become one of my most trusted mentors and advisors. 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.

SIG Baseline Report, Database and Map Now Available

I’m pleased to announce that IES has released the Department’s first report on the revamped School Improvement Grant (SIG), called “Baseline Analyses of SIG Applications and SIG-Eligible and SIG-Awarded Schools“. This report uses publicly-available data from State Education Agency (SEA) websites, SEA SIG applications, and the National Center for Education Statistics’ Common Core of Data to provide initial information on SIG-related policies and practices that states intend to implement, and the characteristics of both SIG-eligible and SIG-awarded schools. We’re also making available the entire database of SIG data to the public — you can find links to the database and documentation below. Finally, a mapping tool for the SIG data is available at http://data.ed.gov/grants/school-improvement-grants.

Some of the key highlights of the analyses in the report on SIG-eligible and SIG-awarded schools include the following:

  • 15,277 schools, or 16 percent of all schools nationwide, were eligible for SIG.
  • Given the program’s intent, SIG-awarded schools were, as expected, more likely to be high-poverty (75 percent), high-minority (86 percent), urban schools in comparison to elementary and secondary schools nationwide.
  • SIG-awarded schools are more likely to be high schools: high schools constitute 21 percent of schools nationwide and 19 percent of SIG-eligible schools, but constitute 40 percent of SIG-awarded schools.
  • The average total award among Tier I and Tier II schools was $2.54 million.
  • The majority of districts with SIG-awarded schools (62 percent) have only one SIG-awarded school.
  • Forty-three districts (7 percent of the 576 districts with SIG-awarded schools) across 24 states and the District of Columbia have 5 or more SIG-awarded schools.

SIG Funding to States and Schools

  • The average state award was $65 million, and the median state award was $39.7 million.
  • Among the different intervention models, turnaround schools received the largest total awards ($2.96 million per school).
  • By school level, high schools received the largest total allocation ($2.37 million), whereas non-standard schools (i.e. schools with a grade configuration not falling within the elementary, middle or high school categories) received the highest per-pupil grants ($1,880).
  • Schools in eleven states will receive an increase in per-pupil funding of 30 percent or more as a result of SIG.

The report also analyzes State SIG applications in fiscal year 2009, including how State Educational Agencies defined and identified what they meant by “persistently lowest achieving schools,” what types of monitoring strategies they would be using to monitor progress toward SIG goals, and other measures of support and technical assistance States are supporting SIG implementation.

Among the SIG-eligible schools:

  • Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia defined secondary school as including both middle and high school levels, or those schools serving 6th through 12th grade.
  • Seventeen states will prioritize Tier III schools that commit to implementing one of the four intervention models.

The SIG database contains 15,518 SIG-eligible schools across 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), including 1,247 SIG-awarded schools across 49 states. The database has information on all the SIG-related data you may be curious about, from information on award allocations, to SIG model selection, to demographic information on SIG-awarded schools. For more informtaion on SIG, please visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html

Attachment Size
SIG Database Documentation.pdf 150.46 KB
sig_database.xls 8.91 MB

Next Week: Education Stakeholders Forum on TA and Comprehensive Centers

I’ll be hosting an Education Stakeholders Forum to be held Wednesday, May 11th, 2011, at 1:00 p.m., at the Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. We’ll be soliciting input and feedback on how we can improve the delivery of technical assistance through our partnership with Regional Comprehensive Center.

For more information, please visit this page: Information about Education Stakeholder Forum meetings and registering

Thanking Mrs. Silverman

Cross posted from the ED.gov blog.

I still remember how nervous I was during my first day of school, as a new kindergartener at Fremont Elementary. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, I only spoke Spanish at home. So, I was worried about how I would fare in school. Would I understand what my teacher was saying to me? How would I make friends? What if I didn’t like school?Mrs.Silverman

Thanks to Mrs. Silverman, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. She welcomed me into her classroom and helped me fit in, even going so far as to set up a play date for me and a classmate, Brenda, who would go onto be my best friend. Gradually, she taught me my second language, while never devaluing or trying to erase my first. Most importantly, she showed me how magical learning could be, and set me on a path to academic success.

It is in large part because of Mrs. Silverman that I became a teacher. To this day, I have a photo of her with some of my classmates and me that appeared in a district newsletter. And whenever I have the opportunity to speak about the power of education, my story always seems to come back to Mrs. Silverman. Every so often, I do a search online for her, to see if I can find her, and tell her in person how much she’s done for me.  I haven’t found her, but I’ll continue to share broadly my memories of Mrs. Silverman. Maybe that’s my way of thanking her over and over again for all that she did for me – though I sure would like the chance to tell her in person.

Supporting Rural Schools

Colonial BeachAs I’ve mentioned in this blog before, we in OESE are taking a new approach to working and helping districts build capacity, especially those who serve diverse groups of learners. So, one of our priorities is working specifically with rural schools and communities to ensure they have the appropriate resources and support to address the unique challenges they face.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a rural school in Colonial Beach, Virginia – specifically, a rural SIG school.  Colonial Beach High School is one of two schools in the Colonial Beach district, and it serves a population of 3,000 citizens. The school received SIG funds last year and they’ve adopted the transformation model to turn around the school, with a lot of support from the district and its superintendent, Dr. Carol Power.

During my visit, I met teachers, saw some classrooms, and spoke with the dedicated School Board and the Lead Turnaround Partners team, which is made up of six educational experts that are working with Colonial Beach to implement the school turnaround process. The school has made some encouraging progress, but what was really interesting for me to see was how Colonial Beach was dealing with some of its challenges as a rural school. For example, the school has only one algebra teacher – that certainly makes it difficult to form a professional learning community at the school! The solution for Colonial Beach has been to use technology to connect teachers to colleagues in other areas.

The Department recognizes that many of our nation’s rural schools face particular challenges like this one, and we are working to provide technical assistance and other forms of support, including our upcoming SIG Conference focused on rural and Native American students, to be held on May 24-25 in Denver. We want to offer a forum for rural educators to build a professional network, to learn from one another, and to celebrate the unique strengths offered by rural communities. I’m interested in learning even more about strategies and successes in rural schools across the country, so I encourage you to share your experiences directly with me at AskDrT@ed.gov.

Photo Credit: Reza Marvashti/The Freelance Star | Read coverage on the visit from Fredericksburg.com

Up-to-date information from OESE: April Superintendent Monthly!

Superintendents — are you keeping up with all that’s happening in OESE and the Department of Education? Read all about our latest grants and events through the April issue of Superintendent Monthly. If you want to be kept up-to-date, you can sign up to join the Superintendent mailing list, which will share our monthly newsletter and information on any Superintendent calls coming up.

Superintendent Call on Productivity and Flexibility

Thank you to those of you who joined us for the April Superintendent Call yesterday afternoon. We discussed the documents put out by the Department of Education last month to Governors on increasing educational productivity and flexibility in federal dollars. I hope the call was helpful to you.

I also encourage you to email me about potential topics that you’d like us to cover in future calls — we want to make them as helpful and productive to you as possible. Email me at AskDrT@ed.gov and sign up to be on the Superintendent mailing list to receive invites to our Superintendent calls!