Superintendent Monthly: May 2011

Superintendent Monthly: May 2011

MAY 2011

Message from Dr. Meléndez

This month, we conclude our series of four regional, capacity-building conferences held to support state and local education agencies, as well as schools, in their efforts to successfully turnaround persistently low-performing schools through the School Improvement Grant (SIG). The conferences thus far have been very successful, and while they are just one part of a more comprehensive Technical Assistance (TA) agenda we have in OESE, they showcase our commitment to supporting our grantees as they undertake important, but difficult reforms.

I truly believe that OESE's work on building the capacity of our states and districts will yield improved outcomes for our students, and I'm thankful to our staff and our partners in the Comprehensive Centers and National Content Centers for working so hard on re-orienting our work to best support grantees. To help this focus on building capacity take root internally and externally, OESE has even created a tag line -- "Strong Partnerships, Successful Students." -- that captures the unique role OESE plays in supporting education reform.

We are always looking to improve our work and bring you the most helpful resources possible, so I urge you to continue communicating with us about what works, and what could be better. I look forward to continuing our work with you in service of our nation's students.

FY2011 Budget

ED Releases Budget Tables

The Department of Education posted new budget tables showing final program funding levels for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. The Obama administration had to accept some very difficult budget cuts in the continuing resolution that Congress passed in April to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year, and ED faced one of the toughest budget environments in recent history. ED sought to make the necessary cuts in order to meet President Obama’s goal of reducing the deficit, while also making critical investments in programs that will help our country out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. Click here to find the FY11 budget tables. 

School Turnarounds

New SIG Report, Database, and Mapping Tool Available

ED's Institute of Education Sciences (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 For highlights and more information, visit

Regional SIG Capacity-Building Conferences

On May 18 and 19, OESE hosted the Midwest Regional School Improvement Grant Conference in Chicago in partnership with its regional comprehensive centers. On May 18, Deputy Assistant Secretary Carl Harris opened the conference with introductory remarks, where he will set the stage for the conference and reiterate the impact of SIG on high schools. On May 19, Dr. Meléndez closed the conference, underscoring the importance of turning around low-performing schools, and how school turnarounds benefit students, families and the community. The final conference will be held on May 24-25 in Denver, CO. The conference will focus on rural schools and Native American populations and also feature Dr. Meléndez as a keynote speaker.

Diverse Populations

Urban Tribal Listening and Learning Sessions

On May 6 and 9, Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin and other leaders from ED conducted two California Listening and Learning sessions with urban tribal leaders in Stockton and Los Angeles. Specifically, the Deputy Assistant Secretary led an open forum with William Mendoza, Acting Director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities, to discuss elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education. Learn more:

Supporting Rural Schools

On April 15, Dr. Meléndez visited a rural school undergoing turnaround with SIG funds in Colonial Beach, Virginia. In a blog post, she reflects on the unique challenges faced by rural schools and discussed how OESE is supporting school reform efforts for rural communities. Learn more:

Grants Information

Grants for Enhanced Assessment Instruments

 The objectives of this program are to: (1) improve the quality, validity, and reliability of state academic assessments; (2) measure student academic achievement using multiple measures of student academic achievement from multiple sources; (3) chart student progress over time; and (4) evaluate student academic achievement through the development of comprehensive academic assessment instruments, such as performance and technology-based academic assessments.
Deadline to Apply: June 3, 2011
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: State educational agencies (SEAs) or consortiums of SEAs
Learn More:

OESE Updates

Report to Congress Published

“Report to Congress on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) State-Reported Data for School Years 2003-04 to 2007-08” provides a variety of snapshots of state-reported data for five school years under ESEA, including information on standards and assessment systems, student performance, English language acquisition, schools identified for improvement, public school choice and supplemental educational services, and highly qualified teachers. Read the report:

Department of Education Updates

Teacher Appreciation Week

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6), Secretary Duncan and other ED leaders participated in a series of events, including the ceremony honoring the National Teacher of the Year, Michelle Shearer of Maryland, and welcoming State Teachers of the Year to ED for roundtable discussions on topics ranging from effective teaching, teacher preparation, school leadership, school turnarounds, and family and community engagement. On the blog, Dr. Meléndez thanked her favorite teacher, Mrs. Silverman, and followed it up with a video message. Learn more:

"Dear Colleague" Letter

In a May 6 “Dear Colleague” letter, the Administration reminds school administrators of their obligation under federal law to enroll children, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.  The letter cites Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, among other factors, by public schools.  It also cites Plyler v. Doe, the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held a state may not deny access to a basic public education to any child, whether that child is present in the country legally or not.  Both the letter and the accompanying materials declare schools may require proof (for example, lease agreements, utility bills, or other documents) that a child lives within school district boundaries.  However, schools may not discourage the enrollment of undocumented children by inquiring about their immigration status, deny enrollment to those with foreign birth certificates, or deny enrollment to children whose parents decline to provide their Social Security numbers or race/ ethnicity information. Learn more: click here for a fact sheet and here for a questions and answers document.

Green Ribbon Schools Program Announced

At a ceremony planting an oak tree at ED’s Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) headquarters building -- the same tree that is depicted in the agency’s seal, delivered from LBJ’s home state of Texas by 2009 Teaching Ambassador Fellow Jose Rodriguez -- Secretary Duncan introduced the Green Ribbon Schools program.  This new award program will recognize schools that are establishing healthy and sustainable learning environments and teaching environmental literacy.  An application will be issued later this year, with the initial group of Green Ribbon Schools named next year.  Learn more:

Upcoming Events

May 21, 2011 - Dr. Meléndez to Give Commencement Address for the Graduate School of Education & Psychology at Pepperdine University

On Saturday, May 21, Dr. Meléndez will give the commencement address for the Graduate School of Education & Psychology at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Her address, titled “21st Century Educators: Changing Conditions, Transforming Education, Changing Lives,” will call on graduates to become agents of change in education and in society, and transform lives for the better. The ceremony starts at 3:00 PM and will be held at 24255 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, CA.

May 31, 2011 - 21st Annual Leadership Conference for Minority Administrators

Deputy Assistant Secretary Dr. Carl E. Harris will speak at the 21st Annual Leadership Conference for Minority Administrators and the 10th Annual Southern Regional Minority Leadership Conference, to be held at the Imperial Palace Resort and Spa in Biloxi, MS at 11:00 AM. Dr. Harris will be addressing the Department’s work to support this country’s teachers, leaders, and other education administrators. Specifically, he’ll share information on how the Department’s proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act invests in teachers and leaders, and he will discuss importance of leadership and human capital in the context of turning around low performing schools, one of the top priorities of OESE.

June 2, 2011 - Building Partnerships, Building Change: Educational Stability for Students in Foster Care

Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin will be a featured speaker at Building Partnerships,  Building Change: Educational Stability for Students in Foster Care, a convening of education and child welfare professionals to take place at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street Northwest in Washington, DC.  Co-convened by the  Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Education Association, and Casey Family Programs, this national, invitation-only event will bring together 150 participants from the education and child welfare arenas to identify barriers, brainstorm solutions, and engage in cross-collaboration to ensure educational stability for students in foster care. Michael Yudin will address ED’s effort to ensure educational excellence for foster children, and speak to ED’s collaboration with other federal agencies to better support academic outcomes for students in foster care.

Copyright © 2011 U.S. Department of Education, All rights reserved.

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