U.S. Department of Education Collaborates with ASCD and National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to Provide Grants that Support Teacher Leadership Projects

The U.S. Department of Education is collaborating with ASCD and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)to provide direct support to teachers to strengthen professional development and improve student outcomes. Through the new Teacher Impact Grants (TIG) program from ASCD, teachers will be able to develop, expand and evaluate promising practices and programs that can transform the academic trajectory of students. These teacher-led projects and programs can impact the quality of teaching in the classroom, in schools, and throughout school districts. The grants, financially supported by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Foundation Charitable Trust and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, will be awarded directly to teachers for research-based initiatives they believe will accelerate learning and improve student outcomes. The grant program is part of Teach to Lead, an initiative jointly convened between the U.S. Department of Education, ASCD, and NBPTS to cultivate the expertise of teachers to drive transformation in schools, districts and states, including the development of policies that affect teacher work and student learning.

“Effective teachers make the difference, and all students should have access to great teaching and to great opportunities in the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “Given the proper tools, resources and supports, we know that teachers can transform students’ lives. Many teachers have the real-world knowledge and expertise to develop innovative classroom-, school-, or district-level initiatives to drive positive outcomes for students, but may not have the resources to bring their ideas to fruition. Funding from the Teacher Impact Grants will enable teachers to fund projects and programs that can transform and reshape the learning environment, and improve educational outcomes for students.”

Full story of ED and ASCD to assist grants supporting teachers at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Marks the Success of Investing in Innovation (i3), and Launches Seventh and Final i3 Competition

This week, the U.S. Department of Education launched the seventh and final Investing in Innovation (i3) Development competition. Educators working with school districts, nonprofits and partner organizations can apply for grant awards up to $3 million by May 24, 2016. Later this year, the Department will announce the i3 Validation and Scale-up competitions for applicants with more rigorous evidence supporting their proposed projects. In 2017, the new Education Innovation and Research program, established by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will replace i3 as the Department’s signature program for driving innovation and scaling evidence-based practices.

“We are proud to support innovative educators that are helping every student learn, grow and achieve their full potential,” said Nadya Chinoy Dabby, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement. “Across the country, we have seen how innovation in education can close gaps in opportunity, and change the academic and life trajectories of underserved students.”

Full story of seventh and final i3 competition at ed.gov

Education Department Announces New Tools to Support Successful Reentry for Formerly Incarcerated Youth and Adults

The U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, announced today $5.7 million in new grants aimed at improving outcomes for students who have been involved in the criminal justice system. The Department also released a new toolkit providing guidance to educators and others to support a successful reentry system for formerly incarcerated youth and adults.

The announcement is part of the Obama Administration’s National Reentry Week, led by the U.S. Department of Justice and supported by the Education Department and other agencies. King kicked off the week with a roundtable conversation with students whose parents are incarcerated or were formerly incarcerated, as well as educators and others who support students and their families.

“Reentry is a critical moment that requires planning, support and preparation,” said King. “We need to help ensure formerly incarcerated young people and adults can return to their communities successfully. We need a community working together to provide job training, social and emotional support and a concerted effort to ensure success. Not only is this the right thing to do for families and for children, it also makes smart economic sense for our country.”

Full story of tools to assist reentry for the formerly incarcerated at ed.gov 

Oklahoma City Public Schools, U.S. Education Department Reach Settlement to Address Disproportionate Discipline of Black Students

The U.S. Department of Education today reached a settlement agreement with the Oklahoma City Public Schools to address disproportionate discipline of black students. An investigation revealed black students were significantly overrepresented in disciplinary actions.

Before the Department’s Office for Civil Rights had completed its probe, the district expressed an interest in resolving the case voluntarily, resulting in the agreement announced today. The agreement is aimed at correcting Oklahoma City’s discipline practices to ensure that the district satisfies its civil rights obligations to its students going forward.

“I applaud the district for its commitment to improving its discipline policies, procedures and practices for the students it serves every school day, including through evaluation of its reliance on and training for school resource officers,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights. “I appreciate the positive steps the district took during the course of our investigation and I look forward to working with the district to implement this agreement.”

Full story of OKC public schools and disproportionate discipline of black students at ed.gov

Obama Administration Takes Action to Ensure Fewer and Better Tests for Students

Building on, the U.S. Department of Education today released a series of case studies with examples of work states and districts are doing to ensure fewer, better and fairer tests for students. The examples are part of the Department’s continued efforts to lift up promising practices and provide information to states and districts about thoughtful ways to reduce and improve testing.

As part of that work, the Department also today outlined proposed priorities for applicants of the Enhanced Assessment Grant, a competitive grant program for states and consortia of states to improve state academic assessments. Through a notice published in the Federal Register, the Department is proposing three additional priorities for applicants: developing innovative assessment item types and design approaches, improving assessment scoring and score reporting, and conducting an inventory of state and local assessment systems to eliminate unnecessary, redundant or low-quality tests.

Full story of President Obama’s Testing Action Plan at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Issues Guidance for Schools on Leveraging Federal Funding to Support STEM Education

The U.S. Department of Education today issued a Dear Colleague Letter to states, school districts, schools and education partners on how to maximize federal funds to support and enhance innovative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for all students.

The letter serves as a resource for decreasing the equity and opportunity gaps for historically underserved students in STEM and gives examples of how federal funds—through formula grant programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act—can support efforts to improve instruction and student outcomes in STEM fields.

“Too often many of our students, especially those who are most vulnerable, do not have equitable access to high-quality STEM and computer science opportunities, which are part of a well-rounded education and can change the course of a child’s life,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. ”We are committed to ensuring that all students have the same opportunities to access a rigorous and challenging education. This letter will help states and their school districts use their federal funds to close opportunity gaps and improve educational outcomes for all students.”

Full story of leveraging federal funding to support STEM education at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Acts to Protect Social Security Benefits for Borrowers with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education announced today a new process to proactively identify and assist federal student loan borrowers with disabilities who may be eligible for Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) loan discharge. This effort was called for by President Obama in his Student Aid Bill of Rights, which details measures to make paying for higher education an easier and fairer experience for millions of Americans. The Higher Education Act allows for loan forgiveness for borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled. By proactively identifying and engaging borrowers who may be eligible for TPD loan discharge, the Department is fulfilling its commitment to ensure that borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled have the information needed to take full advantage of the debt relief to which they are entitled.

“In 2012, the Administration took steps to streamline the process to allow for Americans who are totally and permanently disabled to use their Social Security designation to apply to have their loans discharged. But too many eligible borrowers were falling through the cracks, unaware they were eligible for relief. Borrowers like one such woman whose side effects from her breast cancer treatment left her totally and permanently disabled. After repeated attempts, she finally received a disability discharge—seven years after her first application,” said U.S. Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. “Under the new process, we will notify potentially eligible borrowers about the benefit and guide them through steps needed to discharge their loans, helping thousands of borrowers. Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief. And we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to receive the benefits they are due.”

Full story of social security benefits for borrows with disabilities at ed.gov

Education Department Releases Proposals for Consideration by ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking Committee

The U.S. Department of Education sent proposals today to the committee working on proposed regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The proposals focus on the issues being negotiated: Title I, Part A assessments, and the requirement that federal Title I-A funds supplement, not supplant, state and local resources.

The proposals are in response to input from negotiators given during the committee’s first three-day session in March. The committee meets again this week from April 6-8.

“These proposals are part of the important work this committee is doing to ensure the law is implemented smoothly and with a focus on the most vulnerable students, consistent with the law’s purpose,” said Ann Whalen, senior advisor to the Secretary, delegated the duties of the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. “We look forward to continuing to work with the committee to promote equity and excellence for all students by providing states and school districts with timely regulations so that they can plan ahead to support students and educators.”

Full story of regulation proposals the Every Student Succeeds Act at ed.gov

Department of Education Releases Resources on Improving School Climate

The U.S. Department of Education today released new school climate surveys and a quick guide on making school climate improvements to help foster and sustain safe and supportive environments that are conducive to learning for all students.

The ED School Climate Surveys (surveys) and the Quick Guide on Making School Climate Improvements will enable states, local school districts, and individual schools to collect and act on reliable, nationally-validated school climate data in real-time. These new free and adaptable resources will enable educators, administrators, and school system leaders to understand and create environments where every child can be successful.

“All students deserve schools that work to ensure safe and supportive school climates in which they can reach their full potential,” said James Cole Jr., General Counsel, Delegated the Duties of Deputy Secretary of Education. “These new surveys and quick guide will support any school that seeks to make significant improvements in all students’ safety and sense of respect and connectedness at school. We owe it to our children to ensure that school is not only safe and engaging, but that we are also working to continuously improve school climate by using resources like these.”

Full story of resources on improving school climate at ed.gov

Making College More Affordable for More Americans & Improving College Choice

The U.S. Education Department is taking steps to further implement President Obama’s plan announced last fall to help more Americans pay for college.

The President’s blueprint unveiled last September aims to make it easier to get federal student aid by streamlining the process of submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

In a Federal Register announcement published today, the Department invites public comment on how it plans to further reduce the burden of collecting application information for federal student aid.

“As the President has said, no young person in America should be priced out of college,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “A higher education is one of the most important investments Americans can make in their future. We want to make it easier than ever before to apply for and access federal grants and loans.”

Full story of making colleges more affordable at ed.gov