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Twenty communities will receive up to $200,000 each, as well as guidance from national groups.
Last August, President Obama outlined an ambitious plan to increase value and affordability in postsecondary education. There were a number of commitments he made in his proposal, and, today, the U.S. Department of Education is announcing further action on the President’s initiatives.
President Obama told students and families that helping to ensure their debt is manageable is a priority, and equipping counselors and advisers with the resources they need to help students prepare for higher education and understand college costs is a key component. To meet these goals, the Department has launched a “one-stop shop” for guidance counselors, college advisers, mentors and volunteers to assist students through the process of choosing and financing their higher education.
The Financial Aid Toolkit, available at FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov, consolidates financial aid resources and content into a searchable online database. That makes it easy for individuals to quickly access the information they need to support students on their path to college, including details on how to apply for financial aid along with presentations, brochures and videos.
By equipping counselors and advisers with financial aid information in an easy-to-use format, we can help to ensure that current and potential students get the assistance they need to successfully navigate the process of planning and paying for a postsecondary education.
Request for input on college ratings
President Obama also directed the Department of Education to develop a ratings system to identify colleges that provide a good value and to increase college affordability information available to students.
This fall, Department officials have been traveling to cities across the country, listening to hundreds of students, parents, college leaders, state officials, education organizations and many others about their ideas on how to best craft a college ratings system that would better inform students and encourage institutions to improve. This week the Department will submit a Request for Information (RFI) to publish in the Federal Register asking experts and researchers to weigh in.
This RFI will complement the ongoing engagement efforts to inform the development a college ratings system that is useful to students and takes into account the diversity of America’s colleges and universities. The Department will continue to encourage the public to share ideas through email@example.com.
Call for new ideas and innovations in higher education
Another major component of President Obama’s plan is to encourage innovation. More Americans are looking for college options that offer a good education at an affordable price. Innovation offers the potential to dramatically reshape and improve postsecondary education in ways that increase value by raising quality and decreasing costs. This is a pivotal moment, and we want to do all that we can to encourage responsible innovations in higher education that build on promising practices and develop an evidence base so that the highest-impact practices can be identified, replicated and eventually brought to scale.
To encourage innovation, the President directed the Department of Education to shine a light on effective, innovative practices and challenged leaders from across the nation to accelerate innovation and build on success. Further, he directed the Administration to encourage these ideas by removing regulatory hurdles, increasing access to federal databases and simplifying pathways to higher education. To do so, the U.S. Department of Education will launch a limited number of “experimental sites” to test new ideas. This authority under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) allows the Secretary to waive specific Title IV, HEA requirements regarding the federal student financial assistance programs to allow for responsible innovations coupled with evaluations of their effectiveness. Today, we are asking the public, including the higher education community and others with a stake in a more educated workforce and society, to send us ideas for experimental sites.
We invite input from a diverse array of stakeholders on topics to spur responsible innovation that increases college value and affordability. In August, President Obama identified several promising areas where innovative practices could do so. These include:
- Enabling students to earn federal student aid based on how much they learn, rather than the amount of time they spend in class, including through competency-based programs that combine traditional credit-hour and direct assessment of student learning.
- Enabling high school students to access Pell Grants to take college courses early so they can earn a degree in an accelerated time frame.
- Allowing the use of federal student aid to pay for assessments when students seek academic credit for prior learning as part of a program of study.
These are just some of the many areas where innovative experiments could advance our evidence base about approaches to increasing college value and affordability. We look forward to receiving your additional ideas. For more information on how to submit an idea, please review this Federal Register notice or the Department’s Dear Colleague Letter. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 31, 2013.
The U.S. Department of Education seeks to launch experiments that allow innovation to flourish, while also protecting taxpayer resources and building the research base for what works. In all of the Department’s efforts to encourage innovation and enable colleges and universities to increase quality while reducing costs, we value the input and partnerships with the postsecondary education communities and stakeholders so ultimately, millions of Americans can access a high-quality higher educationMartha Kanter is the U.S. Under Secretary of Education and David Soo is the Senior Policy Adviser, Office of the Under Secretary
Last week, The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, announced the finalists for the Innovations in American Government Award. From a pool of more than 600 applicants, the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative is one of five finalists being recognized for the positive impact it is having on neighborhoods – and people – across the nation. Neighborhoods like Minneapolis’s Northside, which has the city’s highest rate of crime and can be a dangerous place to live, work, and go to school, but the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) and its partner in the North4 program are working to change that. With assistance from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, the community is countering the pull of gangs and crime with job training, paid internships, and wrap-around support for gang-involved youth ages 14 – 21.
Since receiving its Promise Neighborhoods implementation grant in December 2011, NAZ has enrolled more than 500 families into its cradle-to-career pipeline of services and family supports and is reaching more than 1300 kids. Each family is assigned a NAZ Connector, someone from the neighborhood, who works with the family to identify needs and barriers, set family goals, encourage behaviors that support academic outcomes, and connect them with promising and proven strategies to support success.
In addition to the Promise Neighborhoods grant, the Northside community is receiving support through the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, DOJ is helping NAZ increase public safety in the neighborhood with a $320,000 supplement to the original grant. This investment is being used for a multi-year expansion of the North4 program for young men like John, a high school senior with a history of gang involvement. The first year of the North4 expansion has provided John (and 32 other youth from North Minneapolis) with job training, paid work experience, and skills development. After graduating from the North4 program, John was automatically enrolled in NAZ. With the help of Bruce, his NAZ Connector, John has secured stable housing for his family and is setting academic, career, and financial goals for himself. But the benefit doesn’t end there – John’s mother, toddler son, and sister are all NAZ connected now and they’re getting the support they need to for a brighter future.
Jane Hodgdon is an education program specialist at the U.S. Department of Education
If you love data, and especially open data, there’s a good chance you also care about quality metadata. We have some exciting news: the Department of Education launched a new ED Data Inventory!
The Inventory is available as a searchable website and a JSON file. It contains descriptions about the data the Department collected as part of program and grant activities as well as statistical data collections.
Richer information about the Department’s data makes it more accessible and understandable to researchers, developers and entrepreneurs. Our hope is that users will be able to put this freely available government data alongside other sources of data to advance new studies, products, services and apps. The tools and advances in knowledge and best practices can help American students, parents and educators and continue to improve America’s schools. Empowered with more relevant, timely information, students and families will be able to make more informed decisions about education and preparation for college and career.
The ED Data Inventory is a work in progress. The Department’s Data Strategy Team sponsored a working group that did the heavy lifting on this project under the leadership of Marilyn Seastrom, Chief Statistician for the National Center for Education Statistics. The inventory so far covers 33 data series with a total of 223 component studies or data collections. For each data collection, the inventory includes information on the specific data elements used and their definitions. The descriptions link to accessible, online copies of the datasets and systems. The inventory work is ongoing – the team is still at work adding descriptions of more data series and studies.
The release of the ED Data Inventory is part of the Department’s response to the President’s Executive Order, Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information, and the Open Data Policy. The content from the ED Data Inventory’s JSON file will soon feed the Department’s content on Data.gov. We have been working with the OMB Office of Science and Technology Policy to make open government data easier for the public and entrepreneurs to find, understand, and use. Check out the new Next.Data.gov, a design prototype of the next generation of Data.gov, and the education community on Next.Data.gov. We provide a list of the 35 datasets accessible via API (application programming interface) at ed.gov/developer.
Learn more and connect with us at ed.gov/data. We look forward to your feedback, questions and suggestions.
Jill James is web director at the U.S. Department of Education and a member of the Department’s Data Strategy Team.
The faculty union says its audit shows that the universities don't have the cash-flow problems they claim. System officials say that's a faulty interpretation.
Complete College America wants students to take 15 credit hours a semester, and colleges to keep a lid on the number of credits needed for a degree.
The new site seeks to make it easier for guidance counselors and advisers to help students plan for college.
In a film screened by the the Institute for Higher Education Policy, nontraditional students speak of the challenges they faced getting into and through college.
The national average debt has risen, but that masks considerable variation—which points to the need for better tools to help families make decisions.
The vote was unanimous, although the decision is subject to a vote of the entire membership.
Do schools in the United States ask enough of students?
Based on the results of a major new international report, and conversations surrounding its release today, the answer is no.
Every three years, hundreds of thousands of 15-year-olds in more than 65 global economies take the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The results provide a snapshot of how students in the U.S. compare to students around the globe. Earlier today, the 2012 PISA results were announced and Secretary Arne Duncan was on hand with Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria to discuss the results and what it means for education in America.
Duncan explained that results for the U.S. are “straightforward and stark: It is a picture of educational stagnation.” However, this is not to say that the U.S. hasn’t made any progress since the 2009 PISA. In the last three years, 700,000 fewer students are in high school dropout factories, college enrollment is up—especially among Hispanics—and the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed us that reading and math scores for 4th and 8th graders are up nationally to new highs.
Duncan also talked with a group of foreign exchange students from several countries, in a conversation moderated by author Amanda Ripley. The students said that schools in the United States did not expect as much of students as those in their home countries.
In his remarks, Duncan reminded those at today’s release that the America’s stagnation evident in the PISA results “must serve as a wake-up call against educational complacency and low expectations.”
The PISA results give evidence of America’s troubling achievement gaps, and Duncan acknowledged that we must do better on closing what he calls the “opportunity gap.” “The only way to increase social mobility and strengthen the middle class is through high-quality education,” he said.
But today’s results also show that while white 15-year-olds in the U.S. do better on average than students of color, our white students are still lagging behind the world’s top performers.
So the real educational challenge in America is not just about poor kids in poor neighborhoods. It’s about many kids in many neighborhoods. The PISA results underscore that educational shortcomings in the U.S. are not just the problems of other people’s children.
To correct this, Duncan said that we must invest in early learning, redesign high schools, raise standards and support great teachers.
Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.
Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education
Principals are busy. It’s almost a cliché that they are unsung heroes who move mountains every day with very little praise and backbreaking hours. So, when it was time for the culminating event of ED Goes Back to School Principal Shadowing, I worried. As a principal myself, on assignment for the year to serve as a bridge between other school leaders and the US Department of Education, I thought: “What if our 45 area principals were too busy to show up?”
Even if they did come, the stakes were high. Last year’s meeting produced real results. Our Principal Ambassador Fellowship was conceived at this meeting. Now, at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday, we were asking these principals to reach inward and pull off one more success.
My worries, naturally, were misplaced. The room was packed. With organizational help from NAESP, NASSP, and New Leaders, each school leader had been shadowed by someone from the Department. Now the principals and other ED officials were seated around a table with Arne Duncan, Deb Delisle, and Jim Shelton and their shadows. All were there to listen to them, and the principals were as candid as they were thoughtful.
The leaders spoke of disconnects between policy and practice. One principal was asked how much additional time his school system’s new teacher evaluation system was taking him- was it 20 percent, 50 percent more?
“More like 200 percent,” he responded.
That came across loud and clear. Secretary Duncan responded to the conversation, “While I know change is hard and that it takes time, you guys need our help and support if we are going to where we need to be. We know that.”
The group also discussed the many hats a principal wears—teacher, coach, leader, parent. More than anything, the folks at ED who shadowed these principals walked away with a clearer understanding of the principal as the linchpin of a school community. The principals came to ED because they see themselves as essential connectors between the world of policy and the work of teaching and learning. This is their job. They take it very seriously. And they always show up.
It’s my job at ED to use the information gathered from conversations with school leaders to inform our priority to help support and improve their work. As I reflect on the experience with these principals and my ED colleagues, it reinforces the knowledge that these one-shot experiences just aren’t enough. There is an almost desperate need for enhanced connections and cohesion. The shadowing experience is a good start, there is much work to do, and I’m proud to be part of the effort to figure out the right next steps.Joshua Klaris is the U.S. Department of Education’s Resident Principal
In 1985, 14-year-old Ryan White and his family successfully battled myths and hysteria about HIV and AIDS so that he could attend his public middle school. In light of the observation of World AIDS Day this past Sunday, it is useful to reflect on how much has improved over the past three decades when it comes to ensuring people with HIV/AIDS equal access to education. But it’s also important to acknowledge the work still to be done.
Approximately 636,000 people in the United States with an AIDS diagnosis have died since the epidemic began. As we strive for a world free of HIV/AIDS, we cannot forget those who are currently living with it. More than 11,000 school-age children in the United States are currently living with a diagnosis of HIV infection or AIDS, as are almost 30,000 young adults (ages 20-24). This disease crosses all socio-economic strata and is not limited to a particular region or zip code in this nation. HIV/AIDS can afflict individuals of every race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and age. We as a community must band together to address any myths, misconceptions, stereotypes, and to eliminate discriminatory behavior concerning people with HIV/AIDS.
Most schools have embraced a spirit of inclusion and non-discrimination that allows students with HIV/AIDS to participate equitably in classrooms and extracurricular activities. In some schools, however, myths and fears about HIV/AIDS can still lead to exclusion, discrimination, and bullying. In those instances, schools must be reminded in no uncertain terms that it is illegal under federal civil rights laws enforced by the Department to prohibit a student with HIV/AIDS from attending school or to permit harassment of a student because he or she has, or is regarded as having, HIV/AIDS.
Here are some of the ways you can make a difference:
- Learn the facts about HIV/AIDS, how it is spread and how it isn’t. Find resources and organizations near where you live and help share this information with your fellow community members.
- Arm students, parents, teachers, administrators, and families with tools to stop bullying in schools, including bullying and against students with HIV/AIDS.
- Review the Department’s guidance documents that address when harassment on the basis of disability, including HIV/AIDS, can violate the civil rights laws.
- Understand that students who are living with HIV/AIDS, are regarded as such, or are associated with others living with HIV/AIDS (such as parents, guardians, and other family members), are protected from discrimination under federal civil rights laws including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Let’s continue to educate ourselves and others about HIV/AIDS. Let’s renew our commitment to support our colleagues, classmates, friends, and neighbors living with HIV/AIDS. Our actions can make a big difference. We owe those living with this disease, and ourselves, no less.Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education
A case that seeks to apply federal antidiscrimination law to academic relationships between students and professors has universities watching.
A new rule will bring the largest nonbank servicers under the oversight of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The university announced on Monday that it would slow down a controversial plan to consolidate staff positions—a proposal that had drawn fierce faculty opposition.
Growing up in San Luis, Ariz., a town located near the Mexican border, Jorge Ontiveros never imagined he’d want to become a middle school teacher. His goal was to “follow the money” and become a lawyer or businessman, just like many young men his age had wanted to do. To his surprise, what was initially intended to be a short-term job as a high school football coach, quickly changed his perspective on the teaching profession.
Now in his fifth year of teaching sixth graders at Palomino Intermediate School in Phoenix, Ontiveros is just one of two Hispanic male teachers in his school. Across the country, just seven percent of teachers are Hispanic, and only two percent are males. For the last decade, Hispanic students have represented the largest minority group in our schools—one of every four students in the nation’s K-12 schools. With the Hispanic population projected to represent 60 percent of the population growth by 2050, the importance of recruiting teachers that reflect the diverse student body of our country is not only necessary but critical.
At a time when the high school graduation rate for Latino males is 60 percent and the college enrollment rate is 34 percent, having a teacher that reflects his or her student body may lead to better attendance, fewer suspensions and higher test scores. Ontiveros teaches in the same community he grew up in and he believes his Mexican, Spanish-speaking upbringing allows him to connect to his students and their parents. “Being able to relate and ultimately communicate with parents and students effectively is crucial to the success of the student, both inside and outside of my classroom.”
The U.S. Department of Education also believes in the importance of increasing the number of diverse and qualified teachers in the classroom. Last week, Secretary Duncan participated in the launch of a national teacher recruitment campaign to raise the nation’s awareness on the need to recruit the next generation of great teachers, particularly minority men. Providing students with a diverse representation of teachers who are role models in their communities will be a key component of this campaign’s success.
Ontiveros believes that young men don’t see enough male teachers to consider a career in teaching. “I want them to see a successful, young, male Hispanic teacher, so I wear a dress shirt and tie every day to show that I am proud of what I do,” Ontiveros said. He also asks his students to dress-up each Thursday for what he calls “Professional’s Day.” “Their job is to be good students,” he told us. “They show up to class and do their part, so I treat them professionally, calling them Miss or Mister.”
Ontiveros may have decided not to “follow the money” but being a role model and teaching and coaching students has fulfilled him in more meaningful ways. He talked about his day, his routine, and we listened and couldn’t help but notice the passion and commitment seeping through every word. Teaching clearly has become not only his career, but his life’s mission.Alejandra Ceja is the executive director for the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics
More than half are on the tenure track, and the rest either are adjuncts or are working in solid occupations.
In some states, funding is now tied to how well students perform. Enter the professional student adviser.