March 15, 2002
...a bi-weekly update on U.S. Department of Education activities relevant to the Intergovernmental and Corporate community
PREPARING TOMORROW'S TEACHERS
On March 5, First Lady Laura Bush hosted the White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers. The meeting focused on the preparation of teacher candidates at the nation's colleges of education and on professional development for teachers who have already answered the call to teach. It also highlighted new research regarding teacher preparation and student achievement, as well as alternative routes to entering the teaching profession. Research shows that children achieve at much higher levels when teachers know the subject content thoroughly and how to teach it effectively. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/admins/tchrqual/learn/preparingteachersconference/. The web site includes a list of presenters and remarks (http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/03-2002/03052002a.html), the "Quality Teacher in Every Classroom" policy book (http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/education/teachers/), and statements by both President Bush (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/03/20020304-8.html) and Laura Bush (http://www.whitehouse.gov/firstlady/news-speeches/speeches/fl20020305.html). Also, the March 19 Satellite Town Meeting is on Teacher Quality: http://registerevent.ed.gov/downlink/event-flyer.asp?intEventID=153.
Be sure to review recent Federal Register notices regarding the No Child Left Behind Act, such as proposed requirements and a request for comments on consolidated state applications, at http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/legislation.html.
IMPROVING FEDERAL STUDENT AID
A day later, Deputy Secretary Bill Hansen addressed the Student Financial Assistance 2002 Spring Conference. "At the postsecondary level, 40 percent of our high school graduates do not enroll in postsecondary education," Hansen said. "That is a startling statistic when you consider that some 80 percent of the jobs that are growing and providing self-supporting salaries in our economy require some postsecondary education and training." To get results, the President's 2003 budget would make $55 billion in aid available to over 8.4 million students and parents and expand loan forgiveness from $5,000 to $17,500 for math, science, and special education teachers serving in low-income communities. In addition, Secretary Paige has approved renaming the Office of Student Financial Assistance to the Office of Federal Student Aid (recognizing that most financial aid does not come directly from Washington), and the administration's first student aid regulations will reduce regulatory burdens on colleges. "None of you will probably ever fully know the impact of the work you do -- the people you touch and the impact that their education will have on our society," Hansen concluded. "This is an awesome responsibility, and there is no greater calling." FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/Speeches/03-2002/20020306.html.
Note: At the conference, the Department kicked-off its Higher Education Act reauthorization efforts with a series of "town meetings." A web site, where the rest of the postsecondary community can share ideas, is planned. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/offices/OPE/rulemaking/index2002.html.
EARLY GRADES STUDY
"Children's Reading and Mathematics Achievement in Kindergarten and First Grade," third in a series of reports from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), shows that children begin kindergarten with different sets of knowledge and skills, depending on child, family, and school characteristics. The ones who know their letters, numbers, and shapes, are read to frequently, who demonstrate a positive approach to learning, and who are in very good to excellent health perform better in school. Further, by the spring of the first-grade, females are more likely to be reading and male are more likely to be proficient in math (the beginnings of differences in children's performance by gender). Future reports will continue to follow the educational progress of this sample of children through fifth-grade. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/kindergarten/.
Note: The first two reports, "America's Kindergarteners"
SCIENTIFICALLY BASED RESEARCH
Speaking of research, the Department's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education has released transcripts from its February 6 seminar on "scientifically based research" and its status across various disciplines. The No Child Left Behind Act actually mentions the phrase more than 100 times, so its definition and relevance to education is absolutely critical to implementation. Early morning sessions tackled such issues as: "What is Scientifically Based Evidence?" and "The Logic and the Basic Principles of Scientifically Based Research." Later, experts discussed the implications of research on reading, math, safe and drug free schools, and comprehensive school reform. Participants hailed from the National Research Council, the American Institutes of Research, and several notable universities. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/nclb/methods/whatworks/research/.
REALITY CHECK 2002
For the past five years, Public Agenda has asked public school students, parents, and teachers, along with employers and college professors, to assess their own communities' progress in raising the bar for public schools. Despite headlines trumpeting a backlash to testing, "Reality Check" finds strong agreement on the useful role standardized tests can play -- and a broad consensus on how they should be used. Indeed, most students say they can handle the testing, and while a strong majority of teachers, parents, and employees say they are worried about "teaching to the test," only one-quarter of teachers say they are actually doing it. But this year's survey also contains unwelcome news regarding social promotion, accountability, and employability. Among the findings:
What about turning back the clock? Only one percent of teachers, two percent of parents, and two percent of employers say local schools "should discontinue their current efforts and go back to the way things were." FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.publicagenda.org/specials/rcheck2002/reality.htm.
Title VI (Part B) of the No Child Left Behind Act contains three Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) initiatives that are designed to help rural districts compete effectively for federal competitive grants, as well as utilize allocations received in amounts too small to meet their intended purposes. The Alternative Uses of Funds Authority allows eligible districts to combine funding under certain programs to carry out activities under other, specified federal programs. The Small, Rural School Grant Program authorizes the Secretary to award grants directly to eligible districts to carry out activities under other, specified programs. Finally, under the Rural and Low-Income School Program, the Secretary awards grants to states, which in turn awards grants to eligible districts either directly or competitively for specific activities. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/reap.html.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"We are at the beginning of an exciting new period in teaching, one in which previous assumptions and ways of doing business will be questioned. As we build a research base on this topic, one that is more specific and experimental than we have currently, we should be much better able to provide effective instruction for all children. My hope and expectation is that when my sons have children in school they will not have to experience the anxieties nor engage in the machinations my wife and I went through each year as we tried to get our children assigned to what we believed were the best teachers in the next grade. Individual differences in teachers will never go away, but powerful instructional systems and new, effective forms of professional development should reduce those differences to the point that every teacher should be good enough so that no child is left behind."
-- OERI Assistant Secretary Grover Whitehurst (3/5/02)
On May 5-7, ASPIRA will be hosting its fourth-annual Latino Education Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This year's theme is "Dialogue on Technology: Digital Tools for the Latino Student," featuring Robert Gabrys, chief of education for NASA. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.aspira.org/.
Please feel free to contact the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs with any questions:
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