New Research Shows Nearly Half of American Parents Underestimate the Harm of School Absences

A student who misses just two days of school each month — 18 days total in the year — is considered to be chronically absent. However, many parents don’t realize that, even when excused or understandable, absences add up and can greatly impact a child’s education. In the United States, more than 6 million children are chronically absent from school each year.

New research released today by the Ad Council found that an overwhelming majority (86%) of parents understand their child’s school attendance plays a big role in helping them graduate from high school. However, nearly half (49%) of parents believe that it is okay for their children to miss three or more days of school per month – and that they won’t fall behind academically if they do. In reality, missing just two days of school per month makes children more likely to fall behind and less likely to graduate.

Full story of student absence education impact at ed.gov

Education Department Awards $144 Million in TRIO Talent Search Grants to Improve College Readiness

The U.S. Department of Education announced the award of $144 million for 459 new grant awards under the Talent Search program.  Commemorating 51 years since its inception, in 2016, these five-year grants will assist more than 300,000 youth across 49 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau in gaining the skills needed to successfully graduate high school and prepare for college. Of the 459 applicants who competed successfully in the FY 2016 competition, 418 applicants will begin new awards in the 2016-2017 project year and future awards will be made to 41 applicants with one or more years remaining on their current Talent Search grants.  This year’s grant competition marked the first year of encouraging evidence-based strategies for both secondary completion and postsecondary enrollment.

“For the past five decades, the Talent Search program has propelled more than 11 million students towards postsecondary success,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “Because of the Talent Search program thousands of students, every year, enhance their ability to successfully transition from high school to college.”

Full story of TRIO talent search grants at ed.gov

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Announces ASCD as New Partner in Teach to Lead

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today that ASCD will join the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the U.S. Department of Education as the third partner in Teach to Lead, which focuses on expanding opportunities for teacher leadership in ways that enhance student learning and make it possible for teachers to stay in the classroom while leading in the profession.

“We are happy to welcome ASCD as a partner in Teach to Lead and look forward to working with them and the National Board to advance teacher leadership,” said Duncan. “During this period of immense change in education, teachers are helping to catalyze great progress, including our nation’s record high school graduation rate, narrowed achievement gaps, and a larger, more diverse group attending college than ever before. 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 teaching profession becomes stronger when teachers are empowered to lead—and when teaching is stronger, students benefit.”

“The entire team at ASCD is thrilled to become a partner in Teach to Lead, and we look forward to advancing the effort and continuing the work that the Department of Education and National Board have done since the initiative was launched,” said ASCD President Matt McClure. “Teachers of all types and backgrounds―from those who have spent 30 years in the classroom to those new to the profession but full of ideas and ambition―need expanded opportunities for leadership. We will focus our efforts on providing resources, support and encouragement to make teacher leadership a reality for all educators who desire it.”

Full story of ASCD as new partner in Teach to Lead at APTA

A Visit From Kendrick Lamar — Best Day Of School Ever?

At around midday Monday at High Tech High School in North Bergen, N.J., about 40 students are crammed into a small classroom, anxiously waiting for Kendrick Lamar to walk into the room.

He glides in with crisp white kicks, a grey long-sleeve shirt, and hair twisting every which way. The 27-year-old rapper has a broad smile on his face. He seems almost as excited as the students, who just might be having their best day of school … ever.

Lamar is on top of the rap game at the moment. His latest album, To Pimp a Butterfly,came out earlier this year and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s albums chart. It’s a complex, multilayered piece of work that wrestles with themes around blackness and beauty.

Full story on star visiting high school at NPR

141 Students from Across the Country Named 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholars

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the 51st class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing 141 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics or the arts.

“Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards, and commit themselves to excellence,” Duncan said. “These scholars are poised to make their mark on our nation in every field imaginable: the arts and humanities, science and technology, law and medicine, business and finance, education and government—to name a few. Their academic and artistic achievements reflect a sense of purpose that we should seek to instill in all students to prepare them for college, careers, civic responsibilities, and the challenges of today’s job market.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by President Obama, selects honored scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. Of the three million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 4,300 candidates qualified for the 2015 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ competition.

Full story of students named to presidential scholars at ed.gov

U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits New Record High

U.S. students are graduating from high school at a higher rate than ever before, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. The nation’s high school graduation rate hit 81 percent in 2012-13, the highest level since states adopted a new uniform way of calculating graduation rates five years ago.

“America’s students have achieved another record-setting milestone,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “We can take pride as a nation in knowing that we’re seeing promising gains, including for students of color. This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country, and these improvements are thanks to the hard work of teachers, principals, students and families.”

Full story of record breaking high school graduate rate at ed.gov

More States with High Graduation Rates

As a nation, it is critical that we prepare all students for success in college, careers, and in life. High school graduation is a vital point along that path, and the latest state-by-state graduation rates demonstrate our continued progress as a nation tackling this challenge.

This is the third year that states are using a common method, called the adjusted cohort graduation rate, to calculate four-year high school graduation rates. The new data, for the 2012-13 school year, indicate that 18 states have graduation rates at or above 85 percent, up from 16 states in the 2011-12 school year and nine in 2010-2011. This progress is a tribute to the tireless efforts of teachers, principals, parents, and other educators and staff, and of the students themselves. In this progress is consistent with the announcement this year that the nation’s overall graduation rate has hit 80 percent – the highest in our history.

It’s also worth noting the performance of individual states with the highest graduation rates, both for all their students and for traditionally underserved populations.

Full story of high graduation rate states at ed.gov

Focusing on the Needs of Rural Students

The National PTA has designated June as the Month of the Rural Child, a time when parents and communities explore ways to become involved and support students in rural schools.

Otha Thornton, President of the National PTA has noted, “Nearly one in four high school students in rural areas won’t graduate. To help address the unique challenges rural schools face and ensure all students graduate and reach their full potential, it is essential that families are engaged and that strong partnerships are built between families, schools and communities.”

Full story of needs of rural students at ed.gov

Past Presidential Scholars Reflect on the Program’s 50th Anniversary

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established by executive order of the President fifty years ago this month. The program recognizes and honors some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors and was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts.

Each year, 141 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the program, ED has collected reflections from past winners, who explain how the program influenced their life and career.

Full story of Presidential Scholars Program at ed.gov

Hawaii Zones of School Innovation Committed to Improvement

Bem is a ninth-grade student who lives with his parents, cousins and grandparents, migrants from the Marshall Islands, in a sparsely populated area of the island of Hawaii, 25 miles away from Kau High School. There are many obstacles Bem faces on a daily basis to receive an education. Just getting to school regularly is a challenge, as it is for many other students in this largely rural part of the State.

But, lately, Bem has been attending school more regularly and has become more engaged in his school work. He even says he wants to get involved in student government. “He’s been coming to school every day, he’s more serious about his studies and he knows that learning is going to take hard work,” said Kau High and Pahala Elementary Principal Sharon Beck.

Full story of Hawaii school innovation at ed.gov