Monthly Archives: June 2009

Federal Education News and Events – June 3, 2009

Education news headlines: [please see the end of this email for the full text of all articles]

4-Year Colleges Graduate 53% in 6 years [Article 1]

Transparency Watch: Stimulus App Secrecy Bugs Advocacy Groups [Article 2]


New Report from AEI: Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Colleges Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don’t):



Congressional Committee hearings: 

House Committee on Education and Labor:

June 4: Full Committee Hearing: Building on What Works at Charter Schools

10:00 a.m., 2175 Rayburn House Building, Capitol Hill

Witnesses: Steve Barr, Founder, Green Dot Public Schools, Los Angeles

David Dunn, Director, Texas Charter School Association

Jim Goenner, Board chair, National Association of Charter School Authorizers

John King, Managing Director, Excellece Preparatory Network, Uncommon Schools, New York, NY

Barbara O’Brien, Lt. Governor, Colorado

Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Innovation and Improvement, Department of Education


HouseCommittee on Appropriations:

today: Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies:

Draft Bill: Witness: Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education

2:00 p.m., 2359 Rayburn House Building, Capitol Hill


Senate Committee on Appropriations:

today: Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee:

Draft Bill, Witness: Arne Dunca, Secretary of Education

9:30 a.m., 124 Dirksen Senate Building, Capitol Hill



Other Events:

today: ETS Research Forum: Making Tests Fair for English Language Learners

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (lunch provided), Educational Testing Service, 1800 K St, Ninth Floor, Washington, Dc

Presenters: Maria Martiniello, Associate Research Scientist, ETS

Mary J. Pitoniak, Lead Program Administrator in Research & Development, ETS

Register here:


June 4: The Cons and Pros of Universal Preschool

Panelists: Chester Finn, President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Steve Barnett, National Institute for Early Education Research

Neal McCluskey, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute

Sara Mead, Early Education Initiative, New America Foundation

3:00 to 4:30 p.m., Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 1016 16 St NW, 7th Floor, Washington, DC

RSVP to Christina Hentges at or 202-223-5452


June 4: “Health, Education and Child Welfare: Measuring Outcomes Across Systems

Webcast from the Urban Isntitute in Chicago

10:00 a.m.



June 9: Congressional Urban Caucus Briefing: Anchor Institutions as Partners in Building Successful Communities and Local Economies

Cosponsored by Univ of Pennsylvania and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities

8:30 – 10:30 a.m., The U.S. Capitol, Room HC-6

RSVP by June 5:

Presenters: Reps. Chaka Fattah and Michael Turner, Ira Harkavy, Associate VP and Director, Netter Center for Community Partnerships, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Eugenie Birch and Susan Wachter, Co-Directors of Penn Institute for Urban Research, Paul Brophy, Brophy & Reilly LLC, Wim Wiewel, President, Portland State University, James Harris, President, Widener University, David Cox, University of Memphis, Amy Liu, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution, David Maurrasse, President and CEO, MARGA Incorporated


June 9: Ed week Live Chart: Learning Science in Informal Settings

1:00 p.m. ET

Panelists: Philip Bell, associate professor of the learning sciences, University of Washington

Heidi Schweingruber, Board on Scienc Education, National Research Council

Sean Cavanagh, assistant editor, Education Week

More information:



U.S. Department of Education: 

What Works Clearinghouse releases adolescent literacy intevention report:


A list of political appointees at the Department: 



FY10 Education Budget:

The Education Department has posted FY2010 Budget Justifications (May 13):


The Education Department budget summary (released May 7):


The House and Senate conferenced budget resolution:


Statement of the Managers:

Federal Education Training and Grant Opportunities, Notices:
Link to today’s Federal Register:

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Overview Information; Technology and Media Services for Individuals With Disabilities–National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM); Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009



Yesterday in Congress:

H.R.1709 : To establish a committee under the National Science and Technology Council with the responsibility to coordinate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education activities and programs of all Federal agencies, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Gordon, Bart [TN-6] (introduced 3/25/2009)
Committees: House Science and Technology; House Education and Labor
House Reports: 111-130 Part 1
Latest Major Action: 6/2/2009 Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 65.



American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus):

As ofJune 2, 22 states and Puerto Rico have been approved for State Fiscal Stabilization Funding: CA, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MN, MS, NC, NV, NY, OR, RI, SD, TN, UT, VA, WA, WI.

Approved Applications:

The deadline for applications is July 1.


ECS briefing memo: Maximizing Reform in the Stimulus Bill: Supporting Effective Early Education (May 28)


Training and Employment Guidance Letter: Workforce Investment Act and Wagner-Peyser Act Performance Accountability Reporting for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provides guidelines for reporting performance accountability information for programs receiving funds under ARRA (May 22):


Initial Details Released on Recovery Act’s Green Job Training Grants: Department of Labor Calls for Industry Partnership Approach (May 20)

DOL Training and Employment Notice:

Summary from the Workforce Alliance:


The Center on Reinventing Public Education has released a report entitled, “Ranking the States; Federal Education Stimulus Money and the Prospects for Reform.” The report presents “projections of changes in state K-12 education spending, amidst both state revenue gaps and the addition of ARRA funds. The idea is to rank order states according to how much budget gaps and stimulus funds are likely to affect state education spending.” (issued May 20)


Education Recovery and Reinvestment Center:

The State and Local Resources page is tracking all activity at the state level and has a good collection of links, documents, and local news stories on distribution of education stimulus money:


On May 12 the GAO released a new report on the Recovery Act: As Initial Implementation Unfolds in States and Localities, Continued Attention to Accountability Issues Is Essential.

This report tracks the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money among other funding streams:


The Coalition for Student Achievement has released a report entitled “Smart Options; Investing the Recovery Funds for Student Success” (April 30)

The full report:


Idea Paper from the Education Commission of the States on Maximizing Education Reform in the Stimulus Bill; Enhancing Summer Learning Programs (updated April 16):

The Department has released guidance, fact sheets, and applications for various stimulus funding, including the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Title I funding, IDEA funding (REVISED April 13), Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants, Independent Living Services funding, Impact Aid Construction Formula Grants and McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth Grants (updated April 13):



Please contact D’Arcy Philps, Vic Klatt, Rich Stombres or Danielle Ballard at Van Scoyoc Associates with any questions or comments.
(202) 638-1950




Article 1

4-year colleges graduate 53% in 6 years

By Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY

Even as colleges nationwide celebrate commencement season, hundreds of schools are failing to graduate a majority of their students in six years, a report says today.

Nationally, four-year colleges graduated an average of just 53% of entering students within six years, and “rates below 50%, 40% and even 30% are distressingly easy to find,” says the report by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. It’s based on data reported to the Education Department by nearly 1,400 schools about full-time first-time students who entered in fall 2001.

Some findings aren’t surprising. Harvard University boasts one of the highest rates, 97%. Southern University at New Orleans, which faced upheaval in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina, reported 8%.

Even so, the report documents a “dramatic variation” even across institutions with comparable admissions standards, which suggests some schools are more effective in educating similar students.

“While student motivation, finances and ability matter greatly when it comes to college completion, the practices of higher education institutions matter, too,” says lead author Frederick Hess. When similar colleges have a large gap in graduation rates, “it is fair to ask why,” the report says.

Education leaders said the report could be useful. “We can learn from universities who are beating the odds,” says Geri Malandra of the American Council on Education.

Examples from the study, which grouped schools by categories in Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges:

•Among schools that require only a high school diploma for admission, Heritage University and Walla Walla University, both in Washington state, reported graduation rates of 53% and 17%, respectively.

•Among colleges that require high school grades averaging a B-minus or better, John Carroll University in Cleveland and Chicago State University in Illinois graduated 74% vs. 16%, respectively.

•In the “most competitive” group, Amherst College in Massachusetts and Reed College in Portland, Ore., graduated 96% vs. 76%, respectively.

The data have limits: They don’t account for students who transfer, for example. And they should not be used as a sole measure of quality, the report says, because “schools should not be unfairly penalized for maintaining high standards.”

But as graduation rates grow increasingly central to discussions about accountability, co-author Mark Schneider says, families ought to be thinking that way, too. “We are emphasizing transparency” and urging students to factor graduation rates into decision-making, he says. “It’s one of these little secrets that everybody in the industry knows. We’re just trying to highlight it.”




Article 2

Transparency Watch: Stimulus App Secrecy Bugs Advocacy Groups

Several education advocacy organizations are riled up—as they probably should be—about a gap in the “transparency” of stimulus funds that I pointed out weeks ago. The U.S. Department of Education is refusing to make available the applications states submit for the state stabilization fund part of the stimulus package. the department only makes them public once they’re approved. This does not permit the public to see beforehand what a state promised to do with its stimulus money, so that it can be compared with what a state ended up agreeing to do after any negotiations with the feds. What’s more, you can’t even see the original application after everything’s been finalized.

The New Jersey-based Education Law Center, the New York-based Campaign for Fiscal Equity and the Alliance for Quality Education, and the Georgia School Funding Association sent a letter to the department urging much better transparency regarding the stabilization fund. By not making the submitted applications public while they are still being considered, taxpayers, parents, and other members of the public can’t review them or comment on them, the letter points out.

“The lack of basic procedures to ensure accountability, openness and public participation by both states and USDOE is deeply concerning,” David G. Sciarra, the executive director of the Education Law Center, told me in an email.

In fact, the New Jersey folks sent another letter today asking U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan & Co. to reject the state’s application because it doesn’t fully meet state school funding formula increases, especially in light of a new decision last week in the long-running Abbott case. Of course, I can’t point you to New Jersey’s stabilization fund application because the education department isn’t making it public. This is the first time, that I’m aware of, that someone has petitioned the department to reject an application.

At least when it comes to these applications, one could question whether the education department is living up to those “unprecedented” levels of transparency that President Obama has touted.

Posted by Michele McNeil on June 2, 2009 11:59 AM