January/February 2008 Archived Information by db3541f97e1ae297


									                                 Archived Information
                                                                                                                        JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2008
                                                                                                                        VOL. 7, NO. 1
                                                                                      U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

                                “Promising Gains” Among
                                 Urban School Districts
    I N S I D E                  Nation’s Report Card Reveals Greatest Increases in Math
                                 According to the latest results from the                  among the urban district students was better
2   Spellings Discusses
    Character Education          National Assessment of Educational Progress,              than the national average.
                                 or the Nation’s Report Card, 11 urban school                 “No Child Left Behind is working and as a
    New Report on Title I
                                                                  districts have           nation, our achievement gap is closing,” said
                                                                  made steady              U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.
    New National Education                                        improvement              “While [the] results point to promising gains
                                                                  in both reading          among our nation’s urban school districts, much
    Around the Country—                                           and math.                work remains to ensure all students achieve
    California and Texas                                             Most of the           grade-level success by 2014 and that students
                                                                  participating            in urban elementary schools—and all schools—
5   Calendar
                                                                  districts in the         have the basic reading skills required for success
    Q&A—School Report            2007 Trial Urban District Assessment—released             in every other subject.”
                                 in November by the U.S. Department of                        The report also revealed:
    Education News Parents       Education’s National Center for Education                 > In math, eight districts recorded increases
    Can Use                      Statistics—demonstrated greater gains in math.            in scores in the fourth grade com-
                                 The study also showed that, while the gains for           pared to 2003, and
6   Family Educational Rights
    and Privacy Act              the low-income and minority student popula-               four districts had
                                 tions in these districts were typically greater           higher average
                                           than the national average, in some              scores com-
                                                     cases student performance             pared with
                                                                                           > continued
Tying Names to Numbers                                                                       on page 2

Data Analysis, Reform Model
Turn Around Atlanta School
                                 Six years ago, when Venetian Hills Elementary School
                                 in Atlanta failed once again to meet basic academic stan-
        “The whole               dards, it was identified by the state as “needing improvement”
     community needs             and ordered to offer students free tutoring or transfers to better-
                                 performing schools.
     to know what the               At the start of school that same year, Clarietta Davis was
     data is saying and          appointed principal. Facing an audience of anxious par-
     what we’re doing            ents at open house night, she vowed, “We’re going to
                                 be more deliberate with the way we deliver instruc-
      about the data.”           tion, and we’re going to deliver instruction with
                                 more rigor.”
                                    Today, Venetian Hills—where all but a handful
                                                              > continued on page 3
>   continued
    from page 1

                                        2005. In the eighth grade,          > In reading, four districts showed increases      The 11 districts participating in the Trial
                                       eight districts recorded increases   in scores in the fourth grade compared to       Urban District Assessment included: Atlanta,
                                      compared to 2003, and six dis-        2002, and two districts had higher average      Austin, Boston, Charlotte-Mecklenburg,
                         tricts had higher average scores compared          scores than in 2005, while two districts        Chicago, Cleveland, District of Columbia,
                         with 2005.                                         showed increases in the eighth-grade scores     Houston, Los Angeles, New York City and
                                                                            compared to 2002, and four districts had        San Diego. For more information, visit
                                                                            higher average scores than in 2005.             http://nationsreportcard.gov.

                          Secretary’s                                                                                       Special Services
                          Corner~                                           sharpened focus on what is most
                                                                            effective: making sure these programs           This March, the U.S. Department
                                                                            are evaluated based on evidence, not            of Education will announce the
                                                                            opinion. …                                      names of six states chosen to take
                                                                                “Five years ago, we required our char-      part in the development of a new
                                                                            acter education programs to evaluate
    Photo by Paul Wood

                                                                                                                            national education center aimed
                                                                            their success based on evidence. At the
                                                                                                                            at improving student achieve-
                                                                            time, this had never been done before,
                                                                                                                            ment, particularly for students
                                                                            and those in the field had a lot of ques-
                                                                            tions. Like, how do you measure success         with disabilities. The Department
                                                                            when student and teacher populations            awarded a $5 million grant over
                                                                            are so mobile? And how do you integrate         the next five years to the Uni-
                                                                            character education with other subjects?        versity of South Florida to
                         U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings     How do you know if character education          establish the Center on State
                         joined singer Melinda Doolittle (pictured          contributed to academic achievement?            Implementation and Scaling-up
                         above) and Dave Barger, CEO of JetBlue Air-            “My Department worked to answer             of Evidence-based Practices at
                         ways and chair of The League, a nonprofit          these and other questions. And the              its Tampa campus, in order to
                         organization that focuses on educating youths      results of those efforts can be found in        broaden the use of proven,
                         on the importance of philanthropy, for a panel     the new guide we’re releasing today.
                         discussion about character education at The            “It provides a road map to help educa-
                         League’s town hall meeting in New York City        tors do what works best. We’ve also
                         on Nov. 5. An excerpt of her remarks follows.      started to get our first round of evalua-       strategies.
                            “… Schools offer a stable, safe environ-        tions from our grantees, and the results        Through a
                         ment to learn not only the lessons of math         confirm that students performed better in       partnership
                         and reading but also principles such as self-      schools where character education pro-          with the
                         respect, integrity, and responsibility. As one     grams were well implemented. … I hope           universities
                         teacher put it, ’You build a community in your     it will prove a useful resource … as you        of Connecti-
                         classroom. You build a community around the        continue this important work.”                  cut and Oregon, researchers at
                         school by getting parents involved … and you           For a free copy of the guide, Mobi-         South Florida will work initially
                         teach children to go out in the world and          lizing for Evidence-Based Character             with the selected states to increase
                         make a contribution to the world.’ …               Education, visit http://www.ed.gov
                                                                                                                            their capacity to provide the tech-
                             “But just like with No Child Left Behind,      /programs/charactered/resources.html, or
                                                                                                                            nical assistance needed by school
                         the most meaningful contribution [of these         call 1-877-4ED-PUBS with identification
                         character education programs] has been a           number ED003813P, while supplies last.          districts in such areas as inclusion,
                                                                                                                            assessments and Individualized Edu-
                                                                                                                            cation Programs (IEPs) to support
                                           Charting Progress                                                                the achievement of students with
                                                                                                                            special needs. Lessons learned from
                                          A new report examining the Title I program,                                       these states will be disseminated
                                          which provides federal funding to the nation’s                                    nationwide through a Web site,
                                          neediest schools, reveals “substantial progress                                   conferences and publications. ■
                                          [was made] in the last six years, but more work
                                          needs to be done” to bring every student to
                                          the proficient level in reading and math by 2014.
                                          Published in two volumes, the National Assessment of Title I
                                          Final Report provides recent data evaluating 1) the implementa-                   << Around             the Country>>
                         tion and impact of the program under No Child Left Behind and 2) the effect-
                         iveness of four remedial reading programs. Among the key findings were that
                         more students in most subgroups were performing on grade level, though gains
                         at the high school level were lagging, and that 75 percent of all schools and
                         districts met their states’ adequate yearly progress (AYP) targets in 2004–05, while
                         18 percent of Title I schools were identified as needing improvement. For the full
                         report, visit http://ies.ed.gov/ncee. ■

       >   continued
           from page 1

                                  of students qualify for      “Whenever you put something on display,          place in both the environment and the quality
                                the free lunch program—     you’re going to have to explain it,” said Davis.    of teaching as a result of this program.”
                              has been given a new label:   “When they see their teacher’s name on the              Project GRAD offers a network of interven-
                           2007 No Child Left Behind–       board, they want to know, ‘Why is that bar          tions addressing both school and family life
                         Blue Ribbon School, the highest    here? And why is this teacher’s bar there?’ …       from grades K to 12. The 16-year-old program,
                       recognition for academic                                       The whole community       which was born out of a college scholarship
                     excellence from                                                     needs to know          intended to curb the dropout rate at one of
                   the U.S. Depart-                                                        what the data is     Houston’s lowest-performing high schools, is
                 ment of Education.                                                       saying and what       built on a “feeder system” that consists of a
                Student perform-                                                          we’re doing about     high school and all the elementary and middle
               ance has improved                                                         the data.”             schools that send students into it. The model
              sharply during Davis’                                                         While data analy-   focuses on five core programs: literacy; math;
             tenure, with approxi-                                                       sis has provided       classroom management; social services and
            mately 96 percent of its                                                     Venetian Hills the     parent involvement; and high school, which
           students in grades 3–5                                                       map of the road to      promises eligible graduates a $4,000 college
          now performing at grade                                                      success, a compre-       scholarship.
         level in reading and math,                                                    hensive school reform        Venetian Hills was among the first cluster of
        according to the latest data.                       program called Project GRAD has been the            schools to adopt Project GRAD in Atlanta. Imple-
            Venetian Hills “proves that with hard           vehicle that has made progress possible.            mentation began with a new curriculum that
       work, every student can achieve great                   Superintendent Beverly Hall introduced the       allowed for a great deal of professional develop-
      things,” said Secretary of Education Margaret         reform model to Atlanta Public Schools in           ment and research-based practices to be put into
      Spellings, who gave much credit to the                2000, confident it could produce the kind of              place. It provides 90 minutes of uninter-
     school’s leadership during a recent visit.             change that helped turn around the schools                   rupted instruction for reading in the
           Davis—honored two years ago as one of            in Houston where it had been piloted. She                      morning and another hour and a
     Georgia’s High Performance Principals, and             had seen for herself during a visit to Texas                    half for math in the afternoon. Stu-
     recently as one of six recipients of the Depart-       the success Project GRAD—which stands                           dents are grouped according to their
     ment’s Terrell H. Bell Award for Exemplary             for Graduation Really Achieves Dreams—                          ability—which is assessed every eight
     Leadership—said it all began with analyzing            had yielded, such as                                                 weeks—giving teachers the
     test score data. Being promoted to principal,          boosting the col-                                                      opportunity to work intensively
     following positions as assistant principal and         lege-bound rate                                                        with children on one skill level
      teacher at Venetian Hills, “caused me to look         by 400 percent.                                                        in order to effectively prepare
      at my data much, much closer. And not just            Teacher and par-                                                              them for the next.
       looking at the data—but tying names into             ent response was                                                                    What’s more, to
        those numbers,” she explained.                      highly favorable,                                                                  supplement literacy
             Data are drawn from a battery of national,     “and most                                                                          efforts, before the
          state and teacher-developed tests that help       importantly,”                                                                       start of school
           educators pinpoint how well students have        added Hall,                                                                         teachers provide
            mastered academic standards so instruction      “the students just                                                                    additional
             can be tailored accordingly. Data meetings     couldn’t say
              are a standard practice among the staff,      enough about
               involving even the teachers of non-core      the changes
                subjects such as art and physical educa-    that had
                  tion. Colorful bar graphs charting        taken
                    each classroom’s progress are perma-
                      nent wall fixtures throughout the
                        school. They often spark ques-
                         tions among the students.

           CALIFORNIA—In an effort to prevent more students from                         created a Web site, http://www.myfuturemydecision.com, to high-
           dropping out of high school, the Los Angeles Unified School                   light alternative ways of earning a diploma and to describe its
           District (LAUSD) has launched a new campaign targeting at-risk                numerous continuation schools and community college programs.
           teenagers that will draw on the popularity of Internet Web sites              With more than 25 percent of Los Angeles students dropping out
           such as YouTube and MySpace as well as on radio spots to feature              in 2006, LAUSD—the nation’s second-largest district—is seeking to
           testimonials from former dropouts. In addition, the district has              reduce the dropout rate by 5 percent this school year.

instruction to students falling behind, while       to intervening with a utility company to
Hands On Atlanta, Pomona Park Community
and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. provide
                                                    prevent a family’s lights from being turned
                                                    off. In making home visits, monitoring stu-
                                                                                                           Venetian Hills
tutoring for children during and after school.
Also, through a Reading First grant from the
                                                    dent attendance and building community
                                                    partnerships, her goal is simply to minimize
                                                                                                           Elementary School
U.S. Department of Education, Venetian Hills        those distractions that challenge children
acquired its own reading coach to further           from coming to school or rob them from
support K–3 learners. Explains Principal Davis      learning when they are there. Woodyard,
about the various initiatives, “By 2014, we’re      who worked for departments of family
expected to have all of our children reading        and children services for 20 years, said the
on grade level. We’re not going to wait until       need for this full-time position is essential
2013 to get started.”                               in disadvantaged schools like hers: “I think
    As a result, not only has reading perform-      it opens everyone’s eyes as to what we’re
ance increased—last year, 100 percent of            dealing with instead of stereotyping children
third-graders proved at least proficient, with      and saying, ‘Oh, this little child cannot learn,’   > Grade Span: K–5
three-fourths exceeding standards—but so            not knowing the real dynamics.”
                                                                                                        > Locale: Urban
has the motivation to read. “I had one stu-             She is also part of the school’s Family Solu-
dent that did not want to return the book           tions Team, which includes the principal and        > Total Students: 383
because he loved it so much,” said the              the reading and math specialists, who meet          > Race/Ethnicity Enrollment:
school’s media specialist,                                 weekly to address such issues and              98% African-American, 2% white
Sheila Johnson.                                                    thereafter with parents to discuss
                                                                                                        > Free and Reduced-Price Lunch
“I told him                                                                their children’s academic
                                                                                                          Eligible: 96%
there’re other                                                                    and attendance
books you’ll fall                                                                     progress. In      > English Language Learners: 2%
in love with too.”                                                                    addition, once    > Special Education Students: 7%
    Along with                                                                        a month the
                                                                                                        > Percentage Proficient*:
book giveaways                                                                        team hosts
and other incen-                                                                      a morning
tives funded                                                                          meeting called
through Project                                                                       “Second Cup
GRAD, Johnson                                                                         of Coffee” to
said the program                                                                      update parents
has engaged stu-                                                                       on student                             Reading       Math
dents by “enabling                                                                achievement data         *According to 2007 results on state exam.
children to take ownership of their learning.”      and how far they’ve advanced with school
                                                                                                        > Interesting Fact: Over the past six years,
As part of its classroom management feature,        reform progress. And, every Thursday, a packet
                                                                                                          Venetian Hills has moved from being on
in each group students elect one another            of students’ work samples, teachers’ notes,
                                                                                                          the state’s list for needing improvement to
for roles as team captain, recorder, materials      school communication letters and other                earning the national honor of Blue Ribbon
manager, reporter and timekeeper.                   announcements is sent home for parents’               School.
    Another aspect of this reform model that        comments and signatures.                               Photos, from left to right: U.S. Secretary
has been a critical catalyst for change reaches         Needless to say, parent participation contin-      of Education Margaret Spellings joins
beyond school doors. As coordinator of social       ues to grow, especially encouraged by the              first-grader Joshua in a classroom project;
services and parent involvement at Venetian         increasing success that began with Principal           Principal Clarietta Davis with third-graders
                                                                                                           Prince and Iyana; and kindergarten teacher
     Hills, Carrie Woodyard has been involved       Davis’ appointment in 2002. “If you can
                                                                                                           Sammie Fryar helps Terrence with his work
            in matters from getting medical         hook them that first year, you have them on            while Demond waits his turn. On the cover,
                 attention for a child who was      board with you,” she said.                             first-grader Tyana. Spellings photo by Scott
                     constantly sleeping in class                                  —By Nicole Ashby        King. All other photos by Maisie Crow.

TEXAS—More than 20,000 free, new books for adolescent                         literacy skills of struggling adolescent readers. Since June 2006,
students were distributed to Austin-area schools, libraries and               the Department, First Book and major book publishers have
community organizations in November, thanks to a collaborative                distributed more than 1.65 million children’s books in hurricane-
effort among the U.S. Department of Education, Townsend Press                 affected communities and across the country. Most of the titles
and First Book—a nonprofit organization whose mission is to                   donated for the Adolescent Readers Initiative are from Townsend
provide books to children in need. The distribution is part of a              Press’ Bluford Series, which focuses on a group of urban high
national campaign to provide 520,000 books to improve the                     school students and their families.
calendar  January
          Magnet Schools Month.
          As part of the celebration,
          Magnet Schools of America is
                                                      &                 How can I
                                                                                                 must also show whether or not schools
                                                                                                 have met their state’s targets for adequate
                                                                                                 yearly progress (AYP)—the minimum level of
                                                                                                 improvement as measured by student assess-
          inviting communities to host
                                              Publicizing data                                   ments and other academic indicators (e.g.,
          special activities and events and
                                              about student
                                                                      find out how               attendance and graduation rates) that schools
          is sponsoring a poster contest
          that will conclude on Jan. 25.      performance is a          my child’s               must achieve. Those schools failing to meet
          Visit http://www.magnet.edu,        critical tool for
                                              promoting account-
                                                                        school is                AYP for two consecutive school years are
                                                                                                 identified as “in need of improvement.”
          or call 202-824-0672.
                                              ability: It helps          doing?                      In addition to assessment and accountability
                                              parents see where                                  data, report cards should also include infor-
                                              schools and districts are                          mation on the professional qualifications of
                                              succeeding and where there is still work to do.    teachers, including the percentage of classes
                                                  Under the No Child Left Behind Act, states     lacking highly qualified teachers in high- versus
                                              and local districts that receive federal funding   low-poverty schools.
                                              must publish annual report cards on how their          States and districts should disseminate
                                              schools and students overall are performing.       these report cards as early as possible after
                                              These report cards must include test score data    the school year ends so that educators have
          Jan. 14                             that indicate the percentage of students who       critical information for improving instruction
          PTA Art Exhibit Opening,            have achieved basic, proficient or advanced        and parents can make informed decisions
          at the U.S. Department of           levels on standardized tests in reading and        regarding public school choice and free tutor-
          Education headquarters in           math in grades 3–8 and at least once in high       ing options. By and large, state and district
          Washington, D.C., will              school (as well as on tests in science beginning   report cards are posted on the state’s Web
          showcase the 2007 winners           this school year). Furthermore, this data must     site and may also be available in local schools,
          of the PTA Reflections Pro-         be broken down by the following student            libraries, community centers and other public
          gram “My Favorite Place.”           subgroups: race/ethnicity, economically dis-       locations.
          For a virtual gallery, visit        advantaged, limited English proficient and             For information on how your child’s school
          http://pta.browsermedia.com.        students with disabilities.                        is doing, contact the school or the district or
          To attend, e-mail                       Based on this achievement data, report cards   state education office.

          Black History Month. The
          Federal Resources for Educa-          News Show to Celebrate NCLB’s Sixth Year
          tional Excellence (FREE) Web
          site—http://www.free.ed.gov—        The January edition of Education News              excelling in the classroom. According to
          offers hundreds of teaching         Parents Can Use—the Department’s live,             the 2007 Nation’s Report Card, reading
          and learning resources high-        monthly television program—will celebrate          and math scores are at all-time highs and
          lighting the heritage of            the sixth anniversary of the No Child                   achievement gaps are closing. Guests on
          African-Americans and covers        Left Behind Act and showcase                             January’s show will explore the ways in
          such topics as the Civil Rights     schools and districts                                                     which higher standards
          Movement, Tuskegee Airmen           that have been                                                              and accountability,
          and Harriet Tubman.                 successful in using                                                          flexibility and parent
                                              the law’s bedrock                N E X T B R O A D C A S T:                  information and school
          Feb. 17–23                          principles of                                                                choice are helping to
          National Engineers Week,            accountability for
                                              results, parent
                                                                              No Child                                    raise reading and math
                                                                                                                         test scores for students
          sponsored by the National
          Engineers Week Foundation
          to highlight the importance
                                              empowerment and
                                              doing what works
                                                                             Left Behind                                across the country.
                                                                                                                          Each month, Education
                                              to close academic                  Jan. 15, 8–9 p.m. EST                News Parents Can Use
          of advanced math and science
          literacy, will include among        achievement gaps                                                       showcases: schools and
          other events “Introduce a Girl      and help all students                                                 school districts from across
          to Engineering Day” on Feb. 21.     succeed.                                                            the country; conversations
          Visit http://www.eweek.org,            No Child Left Behind has                                       with school officials, parents
          or call 703-684-2852.               ushered in a new era in American education         and education experts; and advice and free
                                              since it was first signed into law in 2002.        resources for parents and educators.
                                              At a time when our student population is              To learn about viewing options, including
                                              becoming more diverse, educators and               webcasts, visit http://www.ed.gov/edtv, or
                                              students are rising to the challenge and           call toll-free 1-800-USA-LEARN.

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                                                         VOL. 7, NO. 1   JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2008

                 IN THIS ISSUE:

               Tying Names
                to Numbers
                                       PAGE 1

   Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
   In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy,       designated as “directory information”;
   federal officials conducted a “listening        > The disclosure of images of students
   tour” about school safety and emergency         captured on security videotapes; and
   preparedness in communities across              > The type of disciplinary records that may
   the country from which several themes           be disclosed without a student’s consent.         U.S. Department of Education
   emerged, including the need for additional         For a free copy of these guides, visit            400 Maryland Ave. S.W.
   guidance on the Family Educational Rights       http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco                Washington, DC 20202
   and Privacy Act (FERPA).                        /ferpa/safeschools; or call 1-877-4ED-PUBS
      In response, the U.S. Department of          with the following identification numbers     The Achiever is a monthly publication
                                                                                                 for parents and community leaders
   Education has released three new guides—        for the guides while supplies last: parents
                                                                                                 from the Office of Communications and
   for parents, K–12 educators and higher          (ED003907H), school officials (ED003906H)     Outreach, U.S. Department of Educa-
   education officials—on the federal law that     and postsecondary officials (ED003905H).      tion (ED). Margaret Spellings, secretary.
   protects the privacy of students’ education                                                   Comments? Contact Nicole Ashby,
   records. Generally, FERPA requires schools                                                    editor, at 202-401-0689 (fax) or at
   to ask for written permission before dis-
                                                                                                 Address changes and subscriptions?
   closing a student’s personally identifiable                                                   Contact 1-877-4ED-PUBS or
   information to individuals other than the                                                     edpubs@inet.ed.gov.
   parent. The guides provide information                                                        Information on ED programs, resources
   so that, empowered by an understanding                                                        and events? Contact 1-800-USA-LEARN
                                                                                                 or education@custhelp.com.
   of the law, parents will be able to protect
   their children’s privacy and school officials                                                 The Achiever contains news and information
                                                                                                 about and from public and private organiza-
   will know how to act decisively and quickly                                                   tions for the reader’s information. Inclusion
   to maintain school safety when threats                                                        does not constitute an endorsement by the
                                                                                                 U.S. Department of Education of any products
   arise. Among the issues addressed are
                                                                                                 or services offered or views expressed. This
   > Exceptions to the rule, including                                                           publication also contains hyperlinks and URLs
   disclosures that involve information                                                          created and maintained by outside organiza-
                                                                                                 tions    and   provided    for   the   reader’s
                                                                                                 convenience. The Department is not responsi-
                                                                                                 ble for the accuracy of this information.


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