U.S. Department of Education Awards More Than $100,000 to Crazy Horse School on Pine Ridge Reservation to Recover From Multiple Student Suicides and Attempted Suicides

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.”

Full story of Crazy Horse School and suicides at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Releases Report on Office for Civil Rights to Ensure Educational Equity for All Students

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.”

Full story of educational equity for all students at d.gov

U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Reach Voluntary Settlement with Arizona Department of Education to Meet the Needs of English Language Learner Students

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.

Full story of Arizona department of education and English learners at ed.gov

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