Department of Educations Extends Transition Flexibility Waivers for States
The Department of Education will consider, on a state-by-state basis, requests for flexibility in two areas: the timeline for using results of teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that meet the requirements of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility for personnel decisions, and field testing new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards.
As of last month, a dozen states requested waivers for up to one year beyond current plans, until no later than 2016-2017. Additionally, 15 states requested a waiver allowing schools that participate in a field test to have students take only one end-of-the-year test -- the current statewide assessment or the field test.
The Department of Education is reviewing all waiver requests and will approve them on a rolling basis.
Click here to read more about college and career ready flexibility.
Graduation Rate Data Reveals Improvements
The Department of Education recently reported that many states have improved on their school graduation rates during the 2011-2012 school years. The preliminary data can be found here.
The data shows that 16 states reported graduation rates at or above 85%, versus just nine states who reported the same graduation rates in years prior. This is the second year that all states used a common, rigorous measure to indicate how many students received diplomas.
Building off this new data, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will release a report in early 2014 regarding on-time graduation rates for school years 2010-11 and 2011-12. On-time graduation rate indicators provide a measure of the percentage of students that complete high school in four years with a regular high school diploma.
Click here for more information about this data and report.
Department of Education Announces Race to the Top-District Competition Winners
The Department of Education announced this week that five applicants have won a total of $120 million in the second round of the Race to the Top-District competition. Districts that have won are located in South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, and Kentucky.
The winners' grants will support locally-developed plans to personalize and improve student learning, directly increase student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student for success in college and careers. The competition builds on the state-wide contest in years prior.
"These winners serve as an example to the rest of the country for how to develop innovative plans to drive education reform and improve student achievement," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. "These diverse, trailblazing districts have a clear vision and track record of success for models of personalized learning that aim for every child to graduate from high school ready for college and careers."
Click here to read the full list of winners.
Secretary Duncan Responds to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) Results
Earlier this month, during a digital event with a live video feed, Secretary Duncan and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria, announced the results of the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and discussed the implications for U.S. education policy.
PISA is a test of reading, mathematics, and science literacy, given every three years to 15-year-olds around the world. In 2012, 65 education systems -- including the 34 member countries of the OECD -- participated in PISA. The results showed that U.S. achievement has flat lined as other countries are making gains.
"While we are seeing some encouraging progress on many important measures, the United States' performance on the 2012 PISA is a picture of educational stagnation," the Secretary said. "This is a reality at odds with our aspiration to have the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world. We must invest in early education, raise academic standards, make college affordable, and do more to recruit and retain top-notch educators. By taking those vital steps, we will ensure all of America's children have access to a high-quality education that prepares them for college and careers."
Click here to watch the video.