In a major step toward implementing the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and providing important clarity for parents, students, and educators about the new law, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. today announced proposed regulations to implement the law’s accountability, data reporting, and state plan provisions. The regulations would replace the narrow, one-size-fits-all approach that defined ESSA’s predecessor, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), with new flexibility for states and districts; a more holistic approach to measuring a quality education that will help prepare all students for success; and strong protections to ensure the progress of all students. It also reinforces ESSA’s strong commitment to transparency and ensures meaningful engagement and an active role for parents, teachers, students, community leaders, and other stakeholders in implementing the new law. The proposed regulations themselves were informed by extensive input from a diverse group of stakeholders. The Department of Education (Department) participated in well over 100 meetings and events and received hundreds of public comments prior to the release of the regulations. The Department will encourage additional feedback on the proposal from parents, teachers, and other stakeholders through the public comment period, and looks forward to receiving suggestions for improvements to the proposed regulations.
“These regulations give states the opportunity to work with all of their stakeholders, including parents, and educators to protect all students’ right to a high-quality education that prepares them for college and careers, including the most vulnerable students,” Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said. “They also give educators room to reclaim for all of their students the joy and promise of a well-rounded educational experience.”
The U.S. Department of Education today announced more than $13.4 million in grants to higher education institutions to fund quality personnel preparation programs to help improve services and results for students with disabilities.
“We are committed to promoting equity and excellence at every level of the education system,” said Sue Swenson, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. “These grants will give special education teachers and leaders the skills to help America’s students with disabilities achieve their academic potential.”
Of the $13.4 million, more than $4.1 million is being awarded under the Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities – Leadership Personnel program. The funds will go to higher education institutions to prepare doctoral students for faculty and administrator positions in special education, early intervention and related services.
Earning a college degree is an increasingly important step towards entering the middle class. Yet less than 10 percent of children born in the bottom quartile of household incomes attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to over 50 percent in the top quartile. Many high school students—especially those from low-income backgrounds—lack access to the rigorous coursework and support services that help prepare them for success in college.
In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a new vision for America’s high schools, proposing funding to scale up innovative high school models and partnerships with colleges and employers so that all students can access a high-quality education and be prepared to pursue their educational and career goals. These models aim to strengthen America’s high schools by supporting stronger partnerships to expand access to rigorous coursework, support personalized learning, provide students with the chance to build work-based competencies, and allow for innovative approaches to drive student achievement.
Building on the Administration’s work to expand college opportunity including efforts to redesign America’s high schools and America’s College Promise, the President’s vision to make two years of community college free for responsible students, today the Department of Education is inviting 44 postsecondary institutions to participate in an experiment that – for the first time – allows students taking college-credit courses to access Federal Pell Grants as early as high school. As part of this experiment, an estimated 10,000 high school students will have the opportunity to access approximately $20 million in Federal Pell Grants to take dual enrollment courses provided by colleges and high schools throughout the nation. Nearly 80 percent of the selected sites are community colleges.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students awarded Crazy Horse School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota a Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant totaling $107,631. The grant will be used to assist with ongoing recovery efforts following numerous student suicide deaths and attempted suicides during the last couple of years.
This is the third Project SERV grant awarded to a school on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The first grant was awarded to Pine Ridge School and the second to Little Wound School—both to assist with recovery efforts following record high student suicides and attempted suicides. Since 2010, the Department has awarded more than $650,000 in Project SERV grants to the three schools, including Crazy Horse, on the reservation.
“The youth of this community represent its future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., who was in Pine Ridge on Thursday for meetings and school visits. “The Department of Education is committed to helping this community recover from these tragedies. This grant will help Oglala educators strengthen the learning environment so that all students can reach their full potential.”
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights today released its fiscal year 2015 annual report highlighting efforts during the last year to protect students’ civil rights and increase educational equity nationwide.
The report, Delivering Justice, cites examples of OCR’s enforcement activities in 2015, including processing a record 10,392 civil rights complaints, opening more than 3,000 investigations, and reaching more than 1,000 substantive resolutions with institutions that included remedies or changes designed to protect students’ civil rights.
“OCR’s work over the last year has been absolutely pivotal to advancing the Department’s goal to increase equity and opportunity for all students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John King. “Through our guidance, technical assistance, data collection, and investigatory work, the Department’s message to the public is clear: We are committed to working with and supporting schools to protect students’ civil rights — and we will take action to secure those rights when necessary.”
The U.S. Departments of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division entered into a voluntary settlement agreement late yesterday with the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The agreement requires ADE to raise its English proficiency criteria to properly identify English language learner (ELL) students in grades three through 12 and to properly determine when those students no longer need language services. The agreement also requires ADE to ensure that Arizona public schools offer language support services to thousands of students who were prematurely moved out of language services or incorrectly identified as initially fluent English proficient from the 2012-2013 school year to the present.
The agreement follows a separate settlement agreement with the United States on April 22, 2016, that requires ADE to raise its proficiency criteria for identifying ELL students in kindergarten and to offer language services to ELL students incorrectly identified as English proficient in kindergarten. That agreement also requires ADE to ensure that ELL students who opt out of ELL services have their English language proficiency assessed every year until they are proficient in English.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”