WASHINGTON (August 13, 2013) — Despite recent progress in improving achievement among students of color, achievement results for Native students have remained nearly flat. As performance has stagnated, the gaps separating Native students from their white peers have mostly widened.
Last week, the Department of Education released the application for the FY 2013 Race to the Top – District competition. As was the case for the program’s inaugural year, this year’s application asks local education agencies (LEAs) and consortia of LEAs to discuss how they will personalize learning environments to meet individual student needs and help them graduate college and career ready. Unfortunately, this year’s competition does not address our previously stated concerns that this approach could grow gaps between groups. As we said last year, applicants and reviewers must make sure that plans discuss how personalized learning will complement other efforts to raise achievement and close gaps.
Today New York State released statewide assessment results for the 2012-13 school year. These results are an important first look at how the state’s students perform on new, more rigorous Common Core standards in English language arts and math. They paint a sobering picture of just how much work lies ahead to get all students, and in particular low-income students and students of color, ready for college and the workplace. But the good news is that for the first time, New York educators, policymakers, and parents have honest information about school and student performance — information they can use in undertaking the hard work of ensuring that all students graduate from high school ready for the future.
States and districts have been leading the way on the Common Core State Standards over the past several years. That’s as it should be, because the hard work of implementing the standards has to happen in districts and schools. But a recent report from the Center on Education Policy reminds us that states need — and want — additional federal support for the standards, and that policymakers at all levels have a role to play in making sure that the standards are implemented well.
Despite Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (R-N.C.) recent comments that “it’s not the role of Congress to make college affordable and accessible,” the goal of government financial aid systems is to ensure college is accessible and affordable for low-income students. Many states do this through state-based student aid programs. But how successful states are largely depends on their efforts to offer aid first to those who need it most. A new survey from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP) offers a portrait of what states are doing, or not doing, to address the inadequacies of need-based aid. Overall, states have increased total financial aid by 1.8 percent from $11 billion in 2010-11 to $11.1 billion in 2011-12 and increased need-based aid to undergraduate students by 6 percent, according to the 43rd Annual Survey Report on State-Sponsored Student Financial Aid. These overall numbers tell an inspiring story of states tackling the problem of inadequate need-based aid and shifting aid to the most vulnerable students. A look at states individually, however, reveals a more mixed story.
The true blow of sequestration to local school districts has yet to fully manifest, as cuts aren’t expected to trickle down to most districts until the next budget year. But the most vulnerable, including the 1,200 school districts that rely on funds from the federal Impact Aid program, have felt an immediate effect. A new survey by The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools reveals how 45 of these districts, 42 of which are American Indian land districts, have been forced to make tough decisions, ranging from cutting field trips and art programs to consolidating and closing schools.
School leadership matters when it comes to boosting student achievement. But in order to put a strong school leader in every school, districts have to self-grow their pool of effective principals and continue to evaluate and support them in schools. This is the Wallace Foundation’s “theory of change,” and in 2011, the foundation launched the Principal Pipeline Initiative, giving grants to six districts to take on the work of developing a cadre of strong principals. A new report outlines the districts’ progress in the first year of implementation.
WASHINGTON (July 10, 2013) — Today, a minority in the Senate succeeded in blocking legislation to reverse the doubling of interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for students who need to borrow for college this fall. While a majority of senators voted to extend the 3.4% rate for one year, support fell short of the 60 votes needed to move forward with the legislation.