- BROWSE INITIATIVES
- BY INTEREST GROUP
- BY PRIORITY ISSUE
- BY WICHE DEPARTMENT
- BY WICHE STATE
- ALPHA LIST ALL
- PROJECT ARCHIVE
- WICHE REGION
- NEWS ROOM
- ABOUT US
- WICHE DIRECTORY
- ASK WICHE
In a rare public response to a piece of pending legislation, the board criticized a bill in the House of Representatives that would sharply limit its budget authority.
It can’t be said enough, school principals seriously matter in any school improvement effort. They directly impact teacher engagement, school conditions, and family involvement, which are all big factors in increasing student performance. This is why the recent convening by the Department of Education’s School Leadership Program (SLP) is an important part in achieving our overall mission to promote student achievement for all of our nation’s students.
Bringing together 45 of its grant recipients for two days, the SLP program office provided an opportunity for districts, university programs, partner organizations, and federal policymakers to learn from each other and experts in the field about how to promote and improve excellent school leadership.
From my perspective, that of an experienced district and charter public school principal, and as part of the Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program (PAF), the convening provided a valuable learning experience by those in attendance. In particular, I was struck by a presentation from Matthew Clifford, principal researcher of education, at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) who spoke about the Ripple Effect of principal influence. Principals, according to Clifford, need to be evaluated on what they can control – teacher engagement, community context, and school conditions – all of which strongly impact student learning but in an indirect way.
This concept, along with a recent report by Jason Grissom, Susanna Loeb, and Ben Master should make us all think again about what effective school leadership looks like and how our accountability systems honors the work of principals and truly incentivizes the types of behaviors our schools need from their leaders. The principal didn’t become the “most complex and contradictory figure in the pantheon of educational leadership,” overnight, as described by Kate Rousmaniere, another presenter at the convening. It is going to take a great deal of attention and thought for states and districts to create the type of learning environments and support systems required to improve school leadership practices. Luckily, there is a group of practitioners engaged in this work, and it was impressive to have them all in one room together.
A great deal of thanks goes out to the SLP team, the PAFs, to all the presenters who shared their expertise, to the students who thoughtfully challenged the adults through performance and provocative questions, and to the grantees who came with open minds and incredible experiences. Let’s hope this is one of many more such gatherings, because there is still much work to do.
Joshua Klaris is a resident principal in the Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program at the U.S. Department of Education
At a conference, members of the Yes We Must Coalition highlight how they’re working to raise graduation rates and make college affordable.
The draft rule would compel more state scrutiny of online programs. Negotiators who discussed it on Wednesday were far from reaching consensus.
Colleges are considering increased scholarship assistance and more health and safety protections, but some players are agitating for more.
Twenty-three Democrats in Congress say the department should make the cards "provide the best deal to students, not the biggest financial reward for the institution."
Many scholars doubt two booksellers’ claim that their copy of a 1580 volume has annotations in the Bard’s own hand.
Cross-posted from the OII blog.
A small youth and family resource center is tucked away in the corner of a strip mall at the intersection of Western Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in warm, sunny Los Angeles. It’s in “the other Hollywood,” where instead of calling for the lights, camera, and action of movie making, community leaders are in search of the solutions to poverty, mental health issues, and learned helplessness. Since 2013, with the help of a $30 million Promise Neighborhoods grant, the Hollywood FamilySource Center has become the “one-stop-shop” for local families in need of help.
On March 19, Secretary Arne Duncan, along with representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods team, visited the center, which is operated by the Youth Policy Institute (YPI). The goals of the center are to increase family income and students’ academic achievement. During its fourth year of operation in 2013-14, more than 3,140 clients benefited from the Center’s core services: adult education and computer literacy classes, tutoring and enrichment programs to improve children and youths’ academic skills, medical and dental health care, and a number of other services.
Our day began with an administrative meeting that involved ED, HUD, YPI staff, partner organizations, local residents, and youth. The meeting was comprised of about 20 people. Several principals shared stories, both of successes and challenges, within their individual schools. Some described ways that YPI is working with their schools to provide academic support through the use of tutors and a College Ambassador program. Others shared academic strides that students are making at their schools. For example, a few years ago, the charter for the Santa Monica Boulevard Community Charter School was not expected to be renewed; however, within one year, the school restructured its model and included resources of YPI. As a result of the restructuring and resources of YPI, scores on the school’s Academic Performance Index ( the annual measure of test score performance of schools and districts) increased by 66 points. It is now one of the highest scoring elementary schools in the City of Los Angeles.
After the initial morning meetings, Secretary Duncan participated in a roundtable discussion, followed by a press conference. He heard heart-felt stories from homeless youth, parents, community residents, teachers, school administrators, and representatives of community-based organizations such as the STEM Academy and the LA Youth Network. Among the changes brought about by the Promise Neighborhood, 700 families now have college savings accounts as a result of a partnership with Citibank that assists low-income families with understanding the need to save for postsecondary education. “The difference [is] they understand you,” one student said. And that seems to be the missing link in so many students’ lives. The need for caring, loving adults who genuinely understand and take interest in young people echoed throughout the Secretary’s visit.
Closing the “opportunity gap” for students in East Hollywood through the efforts of YPI and its partners, Secretary Duncan noted, is the critical first step in closing the achievement gap. What he saw at the FamilySource Center is “remarkable leadership in action,” he told the Los Angeles Times, which followed his day-long journey in this article.
Promise Neighborhoods acts as an umbrella, creating a comprehensive program that makes the participating organizations think about their work differently. Gone are silos of individual services being offered to families, and in their place is a network of organizations holding each other accountable, so that significant changes can be made in the lives of young people and their families. YPI is able to offer cradle-to-college and career services and supports to community residents. Now that YPI has a Choice Neighborhoods planning grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it plans to expand its efforts to reach seniors and disabled members of the local community.
YPI is the only Promise Neighborhoods grantee that was awarded both a planning and implementation grant from ED, as well as a Choice Neighborhoods planning grant and a Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ). The ED, HUD, and DOJ programs are part of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, an interagency collaborative supporting federal engagement in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. YPI is also the only organization that was awarded two Full Service Community School grant awards.
Earlier this year, YPI was designated as a Promise Zone by the White House, where local communities and businesses will work together to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing, and improve public safety.
Secretary Duncan didn’t meet any celebrities in the East Hollywood community he visited last month, but thanks to the help of the Promise Neighborhoods support, he did meet a number of real-life heroes who are acting from a script that’s improving the life of children and families each day.
Adrienne Hawkins is a management and program analyst for the Promise Neighborhoods Program in the Office of Parental Options and Information
When it comes to repaying your federal student loans, there’s a lot to consider. But, by taking the time to understand the details of repayment, you can save yourself time and money. This should help you get started.
When do I begin repaying my federal student loans?
You don’t have to begin repaying most federal student loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time enrollment. Many federal student loans will even have a grace period. The grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan. Note that for most loans, interest will accrue during your grace period.
Your loan servicer or lender will provide you with a loan repayment schedule that states when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment.
Whom do I pay?
You will make your federal student loan payments to your loan servicer*, not the U.S. Department of Education directly. The Department uses several loan servicers to handle the billing and other services on federal student loans. Your loan servicer can work with you to choose a repayment plan and can answer any questions you have about your federal student loans. It’s important to maintain contact with your loan servicer and keep your servicer informed of any changes to your address, e-mail, or phone number so they know where to send correspondence and how to contact you.
How much do I need to pay?
Your bill will tell you how much to pay. Your payment (usually made monthly) depends on
- the type of loan you received,
- how much money you borrowed,
- the interest rate on your loan, and
- the repayment plan you choose.
You can use our repayment estimator to estimate your monthly payments under different repayment plans to determine which option is right for you. Just remember, if you would like to switch repayment plans, you must contact your loan servicer.
How do I make my student loan payments?
TIP: Your servicer may offer the option to have your payments automatically withdrawn from your bank account each month. You may want to consider this option so you don’t forget to make your payments.
What should I do if I’m having trouble making my student loan payments?
Contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. You may be able to change your repayment plan to one that will allow you to have a longer repayment period or to one that is based on your income. Also, ask your loan servicer about your options for a deferment or forbearance or loan consolidation.
Note: Several third-party companies offer student loan assistance for a fee. Most of these services can be obtained for free from your loan servicer.
What happens if I don’t make my payments?
Not making your student loan payments can result in default, which negatively impacts your credit score. This may affect your ability to borrow for things like buying a car or purchasing a home. Your tax refunds may also be withheld and applied to your outstanding student loan debt. There is never a reason to default. The Department of Education offers several options to ensure that you can successfully manage your student loans. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty making payments, contact your loan servicer for help.
*If you are repaying federal student loans made by a private lender (before July 1, 2010), you may be required to make payments directly to that lender.
Nicole Callahan is a digital engagement strategist at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid
Higher-education groups are weighing in on two cases before a federal appeals court that could limit colleges' ability to integrate unpaid internships with companies into their curricula.
Voter-approved prohibitions on race-conscious admissions pass constitutional muster, the court said.
To celebrate Earth Day, earlier today U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the 2014 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and District Sustainability Award recipients. Joined in an online live stream by Acting Chief White House Council on Environmental Quality Mike Boots, Secretary Duncan celebrated the forty-eight schools and nine school districts chosen for their exemplary efforts in reducing environmental impact and utility costs, promoting better health for students and staff, and offering effective environmental education, including civics, STEM and green career pathways.
Reiterating the Department’s support for green schools, Secretary Duncan praised the selected schools and districts, stating: “Today’s honorees are modeling a comprehensive approach to being green by encompassing facility, wellness and learning into their daily operations.” Duncan went on to say that the recipients “are demonstrating ways schools can simultaneously cut costs; improve health, and engage students with hands-on learning that prepares them with the thinking skills necessary to be successful in college and careers.
The forty-eight schools and nine school districts were selected from a pool of candidates voluntarily nominated by thirty state education agencies across the country. The schools serve various grade levels, including 29 elementary, 16 middle, and 18 high schools, with several offering various K-12 variations. Many schools also serve pre-K students, demonstrating that health, wellness, and environmental concepts can be taught to every student, even the earliest learners. Selected schools and districts also demonstrated that their efforts not only improve physical, environmental, and nutritional health of school communities, but also save schools money in utility costs which can be applied directly back to where it is needed most – the classrooms. Read all about this year’s honorees and their tremendous achievements.
In addition to recognizing this year’s U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools honorees, Secretary Duncan announced a new nomination category for the 2014-2015 awards cycle. This award will offer higher education institutions the chance to receive much-deserved recognition for their resource conservation, healthy living and learning environments, and commitment to education for sustainability. For this award, states are encouraged to document how the nominees’ sustainability in facilities, health and learning has also reduced college costs, increased completion rates, led to higher rates of employment, and ensured robust civic skills among graduates. As with the Pre-K to 12 school and district nominations, which have honored 48 percent disadvantaged selectees over the course of the last three cycles, authorities are also encouraged to consider diverse types of institutions.
There are many tools and resources available to all schools, Pre-K to postsecondary, to help with resource conservation, health and to ensure education for sustainability. You can find free resources available through the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Strides Resources and Webinar Series. You can also stay up to date through the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools’ webpage, where you can connect with the Facebook, twitter, and newsletter.
With these tools, next fall your school may be ready to apply in your state for one if its nominations to the 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools! State education agencies are encouraged to indicate their intent to nominate next spring by August 1, 2014 and schools, districts and postsecondary institutions to contact their state agencies for more information on applications.
Kyle Flood is a confidential assistant in the Office of the General Counsel and social media manager for the ED Green Team.
School staff, teachers, and administrators all play important roles in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse and promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families in our communities.
Each year thousands of young boys and girls are sexually abused and exploited across the nation. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cites that one in four girls and one in six boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before they turn 18. Children and adolescents of all races, cultures, and backgrounds are all equally susceptible to sexual abuse.
The U.S Departments of Education (ED), Justice, Health and Human Services (HHS) and other federal agencies are working together to end child abuse and sexual assault among school-aged youth.
ED’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students’ (OSHS) mission prioritizes safe and supportive schools, health and mental health, and violence prevention to improve conditions for learning. OSHS recognizes and supports the important roles that school staff play in identifying, preventing, and responding to sexual assault and child abuse by providing resources, technical assistance, and a comprehensive approach to improving conditions for learning.
Whether you are a parent, teacher, coach, neighbor, or family member, you can help. Caring adults can support the healthy growth and development of children who have experienced abuse by trusting them and helping them recognize it’s not their fault. The American Psychological Association cites that children who are able to confide in a trusted adult and feel they are believed by that adult experience less trauma.
The Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime outlines strategies for how to respond if a child tells you that he or she has been abused. One of the most important things you can do is stay calm. You should also—
- Listen to the child’s words and expressed emotions. Believe the child and stress that his or her safety is important.
- Not press the child for more information.
- Reassure the child that he or she has done nothing wrong. Abuse is never a child’s fault.
- Remember that the people who harm children are often people whom children love.
- Avoid negative comments. Encourage the child, saying that he or she did the right thing by telling and that it was brave to tell.”
In support of these efforts, HHS, the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, and the Center for the Study of Social Policy – Strengthening Families have created Making Meaningful Connections 2014 Resource Guide. The guide is designed for service providers who work in their communities to strengthen families.
OSHS’s Safe and Supportive Schools TA Center provides resources and support to help schools and communities develop rigorous measurement systems that assess school climate and implement and evaluate programmatic interventions. We welcome you to explore and discover, ask questions, and share your perspectives.
Karissa Schafer is an education program specialist in the Office of Safe and Healthy Students
The increase in Americans with college degrees is good news, a report says, though the nation remains behind in efforts to achieve the foundation’s 2025 target.
When a student-loan borrower’s co-signer dies, some lenders demand immediate payment in full, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says. It suggests other options.
Eight years ago, I attended my first college tour thanks to a partnership between the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Howard University’s Alumni Club of Chicago.
“Escape to Mecca” (E2M) is an annual college visit that started 11 years ago. It has exposed more than 400 Chicago area juniors and seniors to life on Howard’s campus. The trip is organized by current Howard students originally from the Chicago area. The CPS alumni knew that spring break would be a great time to visit Washington, DC, because students wouldn’t miss valuable class time. Unlike traditional tours, E2M fully thrusts participants into campus life; they live in dorms and dine in cafeterias with their hosts, engage in social events, attend classes, and get the chance to meet a number of administrators.
The most recent group of participants got an extra treat this year when First Lady Michelle Obama met privately with the E2M participants. I accompanied Mrs. Obama as she toured campus dorms with students and then participated in a discussion about the challenges of attending college, and the importance of finding ways to overcome those challenges while using them as tools to success. She applauded students for taking ownership of their futures by participating in a trip like E2M and not letting the opportunity go to waste.
“So the fact that you guys have this opportunity to spend a weekend on a college campus and really get a feel for what this experience is going to be like is really a tremendous opportunity that I hope you will take advantage of,” said Mrs. Obama.
As Mrs. Obama said, there are a lot of variables to consider when students and their families navigate the college decision process including: school size, location, student-to-faculty ratios and costs. More high school students should use their spring and summer breaks to plan visits to institutions of higher learning. She said, “Contact schools that are of interest to you, plan a visit to the campus, walk inside the dorm, sit in the class, talk to students and meet with the financial aid office.” This allows students and families the flexibility to spend quality time at colleges without interrupting important high school schedules.
The First Lady’s advice resonated with this year’s E2M participants. Though her visit was a major highlight, the best part of the spring break trip was that 27 students accepted admission to Howard University’s Class of 2018.
I can relate to what the seniors felt as they visited classes, slept in dorms, and joined their hosts at campus hangouts. My trip gave me the opportunity to get a feel for what life was going to be like as a college freshman and solidified my decision to attend Howard University. That spring break changed my life.
As a native of the inner-city of Chicago, I realized that campus brochures and websites weren’t enough for me to fully grasp the reality of college. It took the physical act of being there—of walking the grounds that so many trailblazers before me walked, of sleeping in the same rooms that were once inhabited by the likes of Thurgood Marshall, and visiting the library where Charles Drew studied—to realize the legacy of the institution and the legacy I wanted to leave for those after me.
I mean let’s face it: if you’re on spring or summer break, you should use the time to plan a campus visit.
Here are tips & tools from ED to get a head start this summer:
College Scorecard: Includes information about a particular college’s cost, its graduation rates and the average amount its students borrow. It is designed to help you compare colleges and choose one that is well-suited to your individual needs.
- College Affordability and Transparency Center: ED has compiled lists of institutions based on the tuition and fees and net prices (the price of attendance after considering all grant and scholarship aid) charged to students.
- Federal Student Aid: There are thousands of scholarships, from all kinds of organizations; Federal Student Aid provides tips and resources to help you find scholarships for which you may be eligible.
De’Rell Bonner is a special assistant and youth liaison in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Communications and Outreach
Explore a table listing 132 top-paid fund raisers at colleges and universities, including more than a dozen whose compensation exceeded $500,000.
The rhythmic sound of poetry could be heard coming from the second-grade classroom at Ross Elementary School in Washington, D.C., though the students already had left for the day. Inside, teachers from several schools in the city were trying to find a poem that would captivate second graders, teach them about figurative language, and serve as the basis for a writing assignment.
The teachers are part of the DC Common Core Collaborative, which has about 200 participants from 22 District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools in the city. They get together regularly to discuss how to align their instruction with new college- and career-ready standards, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which were voluntarily adopted by the District of Columbia and 45 States to prepare students for college and careers. The teachers work in small teams of about six educators, all of whom teach the same grade, but at different schools in the city.
Kelly Worland Piantedosi teaches at Ross Elementary School and serves as the coach for the group of second-grade teachers that met in her classroom that afternoon. She said the teachers get inspired by hearing about strategies other educators use. “The exchange of ideas is great—nine times out of 10 you hear, ‘Oh we hadn’t thought about that yet,’” she said. “I know for myself, collaboration makes me a better teacher.”
Now in its third year, the Collaborative is managed by E.L. Haynes Public Charter School. Haynes and the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy were both awarded Professional Learning Communities for Effectiveness sub-grants from D.C.’s Race to the Top program. One of the purposes of Race to the Top was to ensure that teachers and principals were receiving the support, coaching, and professional learning opportunities they needed to help their students succeed.
While all States that received Race to the Top grants are working to achieve that goal in various ways, the District of Columbia program stands out because it helped forge connections among teachers in charter and district schools. Julie Green, the chief marketing and development officer for E.L. Haynes called the Race to the Top grant “really profound for the city,” in that it brought together the traditional and charter sectors in common purpose. “It was tremendous to move toward a unified vision for the kids in the city,” Green said.
The idea for the Collaborative developed when teachers at E.L. Haynes started to shift to the CCSS a few years ago. They were eager to share what was working for them and gain insight into the experiences of other teachers, Green said.
The teachers meet a few times a month for sessions that tend to last about an hour-and-a-half to two hours. They discuss what they are teaching and how it relates to the standards, produce lessons to try out in their classrooms, and set goals for what they want to accomplish with those lessons. The teachers report back to the group at a subsequent meeting on how well the lessons worked. A web portal also allows teachers in the Collaborative to share their work, such as videos of them giving their lessons.
The Collaborative is definitely working from the perspective of Raquel Maya, one of several Powell Elementary School teachers in the program and part of the team that met at Ross Elementary School. Maya said the group, and her coach Kelly Worland Piantedosi, gave her useful strategies for helping students access nonfiction. Maya said even teachers who aren’t participating in the Collaborative are benefiting from it.
“Once you have an idea from someone in the Collaborative, naturally you go back to your school and share your ideas,” Maya said. “For sure, it’s impacted teaching broadly at our school.”
So the promising collaboration can continue, the Marriott Foundation has agreed to keep the program going after the Race to the Top grant expires.
Read the full story, including takeaways and resources on PROGRESS