There’s an app for that. Well, maybe.

As increasingly more apps and digital tools for education become available, families and teachers are rightly asking how they can know if an app actually lives up to the claims made by its creators. The field of educational technology changes rapidly with apps launched daily; app creators often claim that their technologies are effective when there is no high-quality evidence to support these claims. Every app sounds world-changing in its app store description, but how do we know if an app really makes a difference for teaching and learning?

In the past, we’ve used traditional multi-year, one-shot research studies. These studies go something like this: one group of students gets to use the app (treatment group) while another group of students doesn’t (control group). Other variables are controlled for as best as possible. After a year or so, both groups of students are tested and compared. If the group that used the app did better on the assessment than the group that didn’t, we know with some degree of confidence that the app makes a difference. This traditional approach is appropriate in many circumstances, but just does not work well in the rapidly changing world of educational technology for a variety of reasons.

Full story of apps and digital tools for education at

How The U.S. Is Neglecting Its Smartest Kids

Chester E. Finn Jr. has three very bright granddaughters. He thinks they “have considerable academic potential and are not always being challenged by their schools.” Finn is not just a proud grandpa; he’s a long-established expert on education policy with the Fordham Institute and Hoover Institution.

So it’s not surprising that his grandkids got him wondering about — and researching — a big question: How well is the U.S. educating its top performers?

His answer: not very. “High achievers are being neglected in all sort of ways by schools that had no incentive to push them farther up.”

Full story of U.S neglecting the smartest kids at NPR

U.S. Department of Education Awards More Than $16.2 Million in Grants to Improve School Leadership at Lowest-Performing Schools

The U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $16.2 million to eight grantees to develop and implement or enhance and implement a leadership pipeline that selects, prepares, places, supports and retains school leaders or leadership teams at low-performing schools that need the most help in meeting the academic needs of its students. Under the Turnaround School Leaders Program (TSLP), grantees develop systems at the school district level that are designed to provide high-quality training to selected new school leaders and current school leaders to prepare them to successfully lead turnaround efforts in School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools and/or SIG-eligible schools.

The Turnaround School Leaders grants are used to develop systems that are designed to place school leaders in SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools and provide them with ongoing professional development and other support that focuses on instructional leadership and school management, and is based on individual needs consistent with the school district’s plan for turning around its SIG schools and/or SIG-eligible schools. Programs are designed to retain effective school leaders or replace ineffective ones.

Full story of grants to improve school leadership at

College Students in 36 States to Benefit from Extra $23.4 Million in Student Support Services Grants Focused on Success in Higher Education

The U.S. Department of Education today announced an additional $23.4 million in Student Support Services grants to more than 100 institutions in 36 states, aimed at helping college students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in higher education.

Today’s announcement comes less than a month after the Department announced the initial round of Student Support Services awards totaling $270 million for 968 institutions in all 50 states.

“We were fortunate to be able to provide additional assistance to colleges and universities to help give students the extra push they may need to graduate from college,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants provide critical help and encouragement along students’ college journey, enabling them to reach their personal goals and contribute to the economic vitality of our nation.” Typical projects include providing students with academic tutoring, assistance in course selection, information about financial aid and economic literacy, and support and resources, as well as helping students transfer from two- to four-year colleges or from undergraduate to graduate or professional studies.

Full story of students to benefit from extra support grants at

U.S. Department of Education Approves ESEA Flexibility Renewal for Seven Additional States

Building on the significant progress seen in America’s schools over the last six years, the U.S. Department of Education announced today that Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Wisconsin have each received continued flexibility from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

These states are implementing comprehensive, state-designed plans to ensure student success and a continued commitment to college- and career-readiness for every student.

“The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America’s school children. The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As a result of our partnerships with state and district leaders to couple flexibility with reform, we are seeing remarkable strides and bold actions to improve student outcomes. States, districts, principals and teachers are showing incredible creativity in using different means to achieve the same goal—getting every student in America college- and career-ready.”

Full story of ESEA renewal for seven additional states at

U.S. Department of Education Launches Second Chance Pell Pilot Program for Incarcerated Individuals

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to create a fairer, more effective criminal justice system, reduce recidivism, and combat the impact of mass incarceration on communities, the Department of Education today announced the Second Chance Pell Pilot program to test new models to allow incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants and pursue the postsecondary education with the goal of helping them get jobs, support their families, and turn their lives around.

High-quality correctional education — including postsecondary correctional education — has been shown to measurably reduce re-incarceration rates. By reducing recidivism, correctional education can ultimately save taxpayers money and create safer communities. According to a Department of Justice funded 2013 study from the RAND Corporation, incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional education were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years than prisoners who didn’t participate in any correctional education programs. RAND estimated that for every dollar invested in correctional education programs, four to five dollars are saved on three year re-incarceration costs.

Full story of Second Chance Pell Pilot program at

Fact Sheet: Focusing Higher Education on Student Success

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today laid out his vision for America’s higher education system of the future. Duncan noted that while more students are graduating college than ever before at our nation’s world-class colleges and universities, for far too many students, the nation’s higher education system isn’t delivering what they need and deserve. America’s students and families need, and the nation’s economic strength will depend on, a higher education system that helps all students succeed. That starts with making college more affordable but goes much further – to focus on whether students are actually graduating in a timely way with a meaningful degree that sets them up for future success.

Today, nearly half of all students who begin college do not graduate within six years, and the consequences of taking on debt but never receiving a meaningful degree can be severe. Students who borrow for college but never graduate are three times more likely to default. A stronger focus on outcomes for students means change for everyone – schools, students, states, accreditors, and the federal government.

Full story of higher education on student success at

Fact Sheet: Teach to Lead

At a time when educators are raising the bar for student achievement higher than ever, the job of the American teacher has never been more critical to the success of students and to the prosperity of our communities and our country. Teachers are helping to catalyze great progress in education, including our nation’s record high school graduation rate, narrowed achievement gaps, and a larger number of young people—particularly African-American and Hispanic students—attending college. This progress is possible because—across the country—teachers are leading from their classrooms and taking on new roles to improve education for all students. The state of the teaching profession becomes stronger when teachers are empowered to lead—and when teaching is stronger, students benefit. This simple, yet powerful, idea is the basis for an initiative called Teach to Lead.

Launched in March 2014, Teach to Lead is a joint effort of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the U.S. Department of Education to advance student outcomes by expanding opportunities for teacher leadership, particularly those that allow teachers to stay in the classroom. The initiative seeks to spur fundamental changes in the culture of schools and the teaching profession so that teachers can play a more central role in the development of policies that affect their work.

Full story of teaching to lead at

Educators Gather at the White House to Rethink School Discipline

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice are hosting teams of superintendents, principals, and teachers from across the country today for “Rethink Discipline,” a day-long conference at the White House on creating positive school climates and implementing effective discipline practices. The conference seeks to advance the national conversation about reducing the overuse of unnecessary out of school suspensions and expulsions and replacing these practices with positive alternatives that keep students in school and engaged in learning, but also ensure accountability.

“Creating and sustaining safe, supportive schools is absolutely essential to ensuring students can engage in the rich learning experiences they need for success in college, work and life—that’s why rethinking school discipline is critical to boosting student achievement and improving school outcomes. Today’s conference shows that there are leaders across the country who are committed to doing this work. We are proud to stand as partners with these educators to say that we have to continue to do better for all of our students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Full story of educators rethinking school discipline at

New Parent Checklist Out Today Helps Empower Families to Support Children’s Success in School

As America’s 54 million students prepare to return to school this fall, the U.S. Department of Education, America Achieves, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National PTA and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) released a parent checklist today with questions and resources that parents and caregivers can use to help ensure their children are getting the education they deserve. The checklist suggests key questions, tips for educational success and resources for more information.

“I have never met a parent who doesn’t want the best for their child. However, it can be hard for families to know how to support their child’s education. Engaging with their educators is a good place to start. This tool provides families with questions to ask to work with educators to ensure schools are providing all students with an education that will prepare them for college and careers,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Full story on new parents checklist for children’s success at