John P. Holcomb Jr., chair of mathematics at Cleveland State University, read a bleak article on NPR and then another that offered a glimmer of hope.
Administrators can offer support to victims, but colleges may not be equipped to decide whether a student committed sexual assault.
For many school districts, the creation of a vibrant, educational community where students’ grades improve consistently and the educational environment is healthy and safe may seem to be a daunting task.
Yet, on a family and community engagement school site visit last month in Harrisburg, Penn., members of ED’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CFBNP) observed how Downey Elementary, under the guidance of the Harrisburg School District and in partnership with families, CBOs, and a college institution, defies these odds. Through Together for Tomorrow, an initiative that spotlights and fosters partnerships among schools, families, and national service organizations, the collective care and capacity of these stakeholders breathes life into the cultural fabric of Downey and inspires students to step into roles as academic leaders.
“When I grow up, I want to be a scientist. I want to cure all types of sickness and cancers. I am learning about some of this in my science class, and when I finish the fourth grade next year, I am going to the Math Science Academy where I can learn much more!” one third grader said.
These words echoed the similar sentiments of many Downey students who proudly communicated to CFBNP staff that they are leaders, plan to go to college, and will try to make their neighborhoods a better place.
Parents also spoke highly of the school.
“Months ago, my child was a victim of bullying at his former school. … Now here at Downey … my child is not only safe, but he is a respected leader. It is important to ask, ‘What it is about Downey that makes it such a positive and safe learning environment in the same neighborhood as my son’s former school, only right down the street?’” said one parent.
What is helping Downey Elementary to become a vibrant school community is its intentionality in making sure that all stakeholders have an equal share in providing for the life and educational needs of the students. Organizations, such as the Harrisburg Symphony, Salvation Army and United Way, have employed innovative methods to serve the school. Messiah College engages its students in various service learning projects that enhance Downey’s appearance and learning opportunities for students. Downey houses a Parents’ Academy that encourages participation and allows them to receive up to 15 college credits. Teachers train on engaging students and parents, while a Parent Engagement Specialist oversees Parent Liaisons and implements programs to help parents become better education advocates. Downey also contains on onsite health clinic. Additionally, the elementary school has a Corporation for National and Community Service Vista member who helps build the capacity of the school.
For Downey, engaging families and communities extends beyond addressing a simple requirement or “checking the box” for community inclusion. They recognize the power and benefits of working with families and CBO’s to raise student achievement.
Eddie Martin is a special assistant in the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education.
Yesterday, joined by civil rights leaders, students, and educators, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), at the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Library in Washington, D.C.
In a speech, followed by a question and answer, Duncan discussed the education progress that America has seen in the past half-century and the work still ahead in closing achievement gaps – including the need for Congress to reauthorize a strong ESEA–also known as No Child Left Behind.
ESEA marked an extraordinary step for education, and for civil rights. The fight for educational opportunity and the fight for civil rights always have been and always will be inextricably linked.
ESEA has built a foundation under our nation’s schools, helping to raise the bar for every child, and to ensure that the resources are there for those most in need. It’s helped create an expectation that no matter where you live in this country, when students aren’t making progress, local leaders will come together to make change—especially if they are students with disabilities, students who are still learning English, students from a particular racial group, students who live in poverty, or students coming from particular school.
But Duncan said that there is still work to go:“Our work will not be done until we ensure that opportunity is not just a possibility, but a promise.”
Duncan told the audience that teachers and principals know that ESEA is long overdue for repairs, and what needs to be done to fix the bill.
It is broken and it is wildly out of date. We need a new law that does a lot more to support innovation and creativity by educators and communities—and a lot less to stifle that creativity.
A new law must stay true to the vision that opportunity isn’t somehow optional; it’s a right—for every child in this country. We cannot afford to leave any of our talent on the sidelines.
Opportunity is a right that inspires teachers and principals to literally dedicate their lives to empowering our children.
It’s a right that encourages parents to expect their child will graduate from college and succeed in life, even if, even maybe especially if, those parents never had that chance themselves.
Our work is not done until we have lived up to that promise. To do that, we need a strong new ESEA that fulfills the right of all children to have a real opportunity to succeed.
Watch highlights from today’s speech:
Patrick Kerr is a member of the Communications Development division in the Office of Communications and Outreach
Did you submit your 2015-16 FAFSA ® before you (or your parents, if you are a dependent student) filed your 2014 taxes? If so, don’t forget you are required to return to your application to update the information you originally estimated with the updated numbers from your 2014 tax return. And, you should update your information as soon as possible.
The easiest way to update your tax information is by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT). It allows you to transfer your tax information directly into your FAFSA! Check to see if your tax return is available and if you are eligible to use the tool, but keep in mind, you generally have to wait a few weeks after filing your taxes before you can use the IRS DRT.
To update your FAFSA:
- Log on to gov.
- Click Make FAFSA Corrections.
- Navigate to the “Finances section.”
- Change your answer from “Will file” to “Already completed.”
At this point, if you are eligible to use the IRS DRT, you will see a Link to IRS button. If you are not eligible to use the IRS DRT, you can manually enter the data from your completed tax return.
- Click Link to IRS and log in with the IRS to retrieve your tax information.
- Enter the requested information exactly as it appears on your tax return.
- Review your information to see what tax data will be transferred into your FAFSA.
- Check Transfer My Tax Information into the FAFSA, and click Transfer Now to return to the FAFSA.
- Review the data that was transferred to your FAFSA and click Next.
- Sign and submit your updated FAFSA.
Once you’ve made updates at fafsa.gov, your changes will be processed in three to five days. You’ll receive a revised Student Aid Report (SAR) indicating the changes made to your application. Each school you listed on your FAFSA can access the revised information one day after it’s processed.
The University of California at Santa Barbara put together a video that walks you through this process. Check it out:
Well, what are you waiting for? Let the updating begin!
April Jordan is a senior communications specialist at Federal Student Aid.
Privileged institutions have accepted that they, too, will be transformed by the web. But what will that look like?
Bold ideas — like removing accreditors as gatekeepers of federal student aid — have been proposed before. This time may be different.
Former students of a troubled for-profit provider want their federal student loans discharged. But that effort could just be the beginning.
Earlier this week, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate education committee, announced an agreement to begin a bipartisan process of fixing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The committee will consider the proposed bill next week. This agreement, however, is just a beginning. As I detailed in a speech yesterday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., there is work ahead to deliver a bill that fulfills the historic mission of this law.
Congress originally passed ESEA 50 years ago this week. Then as now, it stood to connect civil rights to education, enshrining America’s core value that every child deserves a quality education, no matter her race, disability, neighborhood, or first language. I am happy to see this bipartisan effort come together, yet I also know the distance we have to go toward a bill that establishes an expectation of excellence for all American children, and stays true to ESEA’s role as a guarantor of civil rights.
ESEA must continue this nation’s vital progress in closing gaps for vulnerable students. In that effort, there is more yet to do.
The Alexander-Murray proposal moves reauthorization forward in important ways, including requiring States to adopt college- and career-ready standards as part of the effort to ensure that all students are prepared for the demands of higher education and the workforce. It also would require that states set achievement goals and graduation rate goals for all students and student subgroups. And, the proposal would provide more flexibility than NCLB for states and school districts, and ensure that parents know how their children and children’s school are doing by keeping requirements for annual statewide assessments.
The bipartisan agreement also provides improved support for educators, especially for principals and school leaders. And it takes steps in the right direction by promoting transparency on resource inequities and rejecting earlier proposals to allow resources to be siphoned away from our neediest schools.
Further to Go
Yet there are areas where this bill doesn’t do enough to support the learning of students throughout this country. As the bill progresses, we look forward to working with Congress to ensure that a final bill will do more to maintain the crucial federal role in protecting our country’s most vulnerable students. The goal is not just to identify a problem, but to do something about it.
A good bill must expand access to high-quality preschool, to give children a chance to get off to a strong start in life.
A good bill must ensure that schools and educators have the resources and funds they need to do their jobs – and that schools with high proportions of low-income and minority students receive their fair share of those resources.
A good bill must ensure meaningful accountability, and support for action, in any school where subgroups or the whole school are persistently underperforming.
A good bill must ensure bolder action and focused resources for the lowest-performing five percent of schools, including America’s lowest-performing high schools.
A good bill must ensure strong support for innovations by local educators that change outcomes for students.
And a good bill needs to close a long-standing loophole in federal law that undermines the ability of Title I funds to provide supplemental resources for schools serving high concentrations of students from low-income families, and allows local funding inequities to continue.
Yesterday, at the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., I had the great opportunity to share the story of four-year-old Star Brown from Minneapolis. In her short life, she and her family have faced enormous challenges, and she could easily have ended up behind, before she ever started school.
With the help of teachers at the Northside Achievement Zone, however, Star is overcoming her challenges and is on track to start kindergarten next year. Her story is one of opportunity made real.
It’s easy to say that every child deserves opportunity—regardless of race, disability, zip code or family income. And it’s easy to say that we expect excellence from all our children. But it takes work to make opportunity real. Star, and the millions more students like her, deserve all the support and opportunity this country has to offer. Our work is to make sure that opportunity is not just a possibility, but a promise. Now is not the time to turn back the clock.
Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education
The University of Tennessee is tops among the 65 wealthiest programs, offering players an extra $5,666 each to cover their expenses.
The foundation wants 60 percent of Americans to have a degree by 2025. But with 10 years to go, it’s still 20 percentage points short of that goal.
The debate concerns how historians do their work and what protocols should prevail for critiquing and revising scholarship online.
Providing peer mentors and service-learning projects can help remedial students stay the course.
Twenty-six institutions show up on three warning systems the Education Department uses to identify troubled colleges. What does that tell us?
Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The law represented a major new commitment by the federal government to “quality and equality” in educating our young people.
When President Johnson sent the bill to Congress, he urged that the country, “declare a national goal of full educational opportunity.”
The purpose of ESEA was to provide additional resources for vulnerable students. ESEA offered new grants to districts serving low-income students, federal grants for textbooks and library books, created special education centers, and created scholarships for low-income college students. The law also provided federal grants to state educational agencies to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education.
In the 35 years following ESEA, the federal government increased the amount of resources dedicated to education. However, education remains a local issue. The federal government remained committed to ensuring that disadvantaged students had additional resources, however, because as a nation we were falling short of meeting the law’s original goal of full educational opportunity.
No Child Left Behind
In 2001, with strong bipartisan support, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to reauthorize ESEA, and President George W. Bush signed the law in January 2002.
NCLB put in place important new measures to expose achievement gaps, and started an important national dialogue on how to close them. By promoting accountability for the achievement of all students, the law has played an important role in protecting the civil rights of at-risk students.
However, while NCLB has played an important role in closing achievement gaps and requiring transparency, it also has significant flaws. It created incentives for states to lower their standards; emphasized punishing failure over rewarding success; focused on absolute scores, rather than recognizing growth and progress; and prescribed a pass-fail, one-size-fits-all series of interventions for schools that miss their state-established goals.
Teachers, parents, school district leaders, and state and federal elected officials from both parties have recognized that NCLB needs to be fixed. Congress was due to reauthorize the law in 2007, but has yet to do so.
Flexibility Under NCLB
In 2012, after six years without reauthorization, and with strong state and local consensus that many of NCLB’s outdated requirements were preventing progress, the Obama Administration began offering flexibility to states from some of the law’s most onerous provisions. To receive flexibility, states demonstrated that they had adopted and had plans to implement college and career-ready standards and assessments, put in place school accountability systems that focused on the lowest-performing schools and schools with the largest achievement gaps, and ensured that districts were implementing teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.
The flexibility required states to continue to be transparent about their achievement gaps, but provided schools and districts greater flexibility in the actions they take to address those gaps.. Today, 43 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico have flexibility from NCLB.
President Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan remain committed to reauthorizing ESEA to ensure that all young people are prepared to succeed in college and careers, that historically underserved populations are protected, and that schools, principals, and teachers have the resources they need to succeed.
Some have suggested that the new version of ESEA, which would replace NCLB, should roll back the accountability requirements for states, districts and schools, and allow states to shift funds from lower-income to higher-income districts. With graduation rates at an all-time high and improving for all groups of students, such changes would turn back the clock on the progress our country has made in closing achievement gaps.
In January 2015, Secretary Duncan laid out the Administration’s vision for a new ESEA. The vision includes an ESEA that expands access to high-quality preschool; ensures that parents and teachers have information about how their children are doing every year; gives teachers and principals the resources and support they need; encourages schools and districts to create innovative new solutions to problems; provides for strong and equitable investment in high-poverty schools and districts; and ensures that action will be taken where students need more support to achieve, including in the lowest-performing schools. Learn more about the new vision here.
One sexual assault is too many, which is why the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) are playing a strong role in working to address and prevent sexual assault on college campuses.
As part of these efforts, Secretary Duncan recently hosted a Student Voices session with students from campuses across the country to listen to their concerns and learn about the promising actions their colleges and universities are taking to tackle this pressing challenge.
The students represented institutions from California to Georgia and North Carolina to New York.
Under Secretary Ted Mitchell and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon joined Secretary Duncan for the discussion.
“This roundtable is an opportunity for [us] to hear from diverse students from multiple institutions in order to inform our work. We hope this is the kind of conversation that can happen across all of our institutions – one that continues the work of identifying best practices, and increasing the focus on keeping students safe,” Mitchell said.
The roundtable allowed for young leaders – like Raymond Smeriglio, Temple University’s Student Body President – to share his school’s efforts to create awareness and tackle this troubling problem.
“Temple recently conducted a six-month review of the school including three months of groundwork to see what additional resources were needed on campus, and what the campus was already doing right,” Smeriglio explained.
Students also discussed the most effective ways to align awareness efforts between K-12 and institutions of higher education.
Youth leaders like Kevin William Harvey, a senior at Morehouse College in Atlanta, shared what their schools are currently doing to help build strong partnerships with city leadership, raise awareness, and collaborate with experts in the local community.
Molly Walker, from Duke University, shared that many Duke students participate in a program called “Duke Splash,” where students have taught weekend classes to high school youth about gender violence.
Spelman College’s Briana Brownlow discussed her school’s Survivor organization, which coordinates a mentorship program using the arts to help elementary school students begin to be aware of the issues surrounding sexual violence.
Students also talked about the many ways the Obama Administration engages students to address this problem, including the recent launch of the“It’s On Us” campaign, which encourages all members of campus communities to actively think about ways to prevent sexual assault.
The Administration is very concerned about sexual violence on U.S. campuses, and has launched several initiatives to address this issue. In January 2014, President Obama and Vice President Biden established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.
In April of that year, the Task Force released its first report to the President, which includes recommendations to colleges and universities on how to eliminate sexual violence on their campuses. In conjunction with the release of this report, ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a frequently asked questions document to follow up on our Dear Colleague Letter. The Task Force also created NotAlone.gov, which the students praised for including resources from across the government on preventing and addressing sexual assaults in schools.
OCR has also increased transparency around its investigations of this issue. For the first time, the office made public the list of colleges and universities under investigation for their handling of sexual violence complaints.
No one should feel the threat of sexual assault as they pursue their education. This country’s college campuses should be free of violence, and it is our shared responsibility as a nation to end this outrage.
As the students and Department staff who attended this important Student Voices session agreed, finding the solution really is on all of us.
Devon King is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach and a senior at Boston University.
There are many ideas for streamlining the federal student-aid application. But that hasn’t happened yet, and students and advisers still grapple with it.
Laurie A. Leshin, the first woman to lead Worcester Polytechnic Institute, talked about the importance of having female leaders in higher education.
Cross-posted from Medium.
The demand for high-quality educational apps is increasing as communities become more connected, devices become more affordable and teachers and parents are looking for new ways to use technology to engage students. Yet many existing solutions don’t address the most urgent needs in education.
That’s why this morning Secretary Duncan announced the release of a new resource: The Ed Tech Developer’s Guide: A Primer for Developers, Startups and Entrepreneurs. Created with input from knowledgeable educators, developers, and researchers who were willing to share what they have learned, we designed this guide to help entrepreneurs, app developers, and educators apply technology in smart ways to solve persistent problems in education. It is our hope that the guide will answer key questions and highlight critical needs and opportunities for developing digital tools and apps for learning.
The guide highlights 10 specific areas where developers can focus their efforts for greatest impact. These opportunities represent some of the most urgent needs expressed by educators, parents, and students across the country. These stakeholders are seeking educational apps that improve mastery of academic skills, foster and measure non-cognitive skills, improve assessment experiences, engage families, support college and career planning, provide meaningful professional development for educators, improve teacher productivity, increase access for all students, and close achievement gaps.
Secretary Duncan highlighted the power technology holds for closing the opportunity gap, and meeting the needs of all students, regardless of geographic location, family income or any other demographic factor. All students have the right to an equitable education, and technology can be a powerful tool for making that a reality. For example, apps can provide access to virtual science labs and equipment that may not be available in schools, or digital connections to experts that may not otherwise be able to engage with students.
The guide also discusses some common pitfalls to avoid. For example, the value of technology for transforming learning is lost if it is only used to digitize traditional materials (e.g. scanning worksheets makes them digital, but doesn’t improve the learning experience). Instead, we encourage developers to think about innovative approaches that allow students to engage differently. What does technology make possible that could not be done before?
School leaders also report that developers often rely too much on what they remember about school from when they were a student and fail to address the complex, interrelated needs of today’s education system. Creating high-impact educational apps takes a whole community working together; in particular, educators must be involved at every stage of development for tools and apps to align with their priorities and effectively mesh with their daily workflow. The guide provides examples of successful collaborations between developers and educators to create meaningful educational apps.
Developers and entrepreneurs who choose to apply their talents to build tools for learning have the ability to help transform education in America and exponentially increase opportunities for all students.
Richard Culatta is Director of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education.