FACT SHEET: Equity in IDEA | U.S. Department of Education

12/12/16

The U.S. Department of Education today made available to the public final regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), aimed at promoting equity by targeting widespread disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities. The regulations will address a number of issues related to significant disproportionality in the identification, placement, and discipline of students with disabilities based on race or ethnicity. The Department is also releasing a new Dear Colleague Letter addressing racial discrimination.

“Children with disabilities are often disproportionately and unfairly suspended and expelled from school and educated in classrooms separate from their peers,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “Children of color with disabilities are overrepresented within the special education population, and the contrast in how frequently they are disciplined is even starker.”

King added, “Today’s new regulations and supporting documents provide the necessary guidance and support to school districts and build upon the work from public education advocates and local leaders who believe, like we do, that we need to address racial and ethnic disparities in special education. This important step forward is about ensuring the right services get to the right students in the right way.”

In order to address those inequities, IDEA requires states to identify districts with “significant disproportionality” in special education—that is, when districts identify, place in more restrictive settings, or discipline children from any racial or ethnic group at markedly higher rates than their peers.

Children of color—particularly African-American and American Indian youth—are identified as students with disabilities at substantially higher rates than their peers. It is critical to ensure that overrepresentation is not the result of misidentification, including both over- and under-identification, which can interfere with a school’s ability to provide children with the appropriate educational services required by law. It is equally important to ensure that all children who are suspected of having a disability are evaluated and, as appropriate, receive needed special education and related services in the most appropriate setting and with the most appropriate discipline strategies employed.

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Available at: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-equity-idea?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

A Farewell Letter from Dr. Enriquez

Dear Head Start program staff and parents,

I am blessed beyond words to have spent the last 20 months working with such intelligent, committed, and loving colleagues as yourselves. So it is with a mixed heart that I announce that as the Obama Administration is coming to a close, so is my time at the helm of the Office of Head Start. Simultaneously, it is a pleasure to remind you of the successes that we have accomplished together as we enhanced the Head Start legacy for future generations.

We strengthened Head Start, set our sights on creating high-performing agencies, opened and enhanced communication systems, reported on lessons learned from the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®) and the Designation Renewal System (DRS), and worked in unison to publish the new Head Start Program Performance Standards. These accomplishments were designed to position present and future generations with quality tools to help them become even more successful!

Though each of our Head Start families is unique, it is our job to help them become as strong and stable as possible, regardless of what they believe or who they are. Our Head Start community consists of traditional two-parent households and non-traditional families made of a single mother or father; children raised by grandparents, relatives, or older siblings; and families whose parents are both of the same gender. We have students who open gifts on Christmas, who are taught the Torah, and who proudly wear headscarves as part of their Muslim faith. Some of our families are indigenous Native Americans, some are descendants of the pilgrims, and yet others moved to the United States within the last year and may migrate to work and bring food to our tables.

Our Head Start family is a snapshot of this country, and we are faced with the task of creating an environment that celebrates and harnesses the strengths of all of these differences. As partners, staff, and parents, I know you strive to get better at that—and I thank you for all you do!

You serve more than one million children annually, but it is your passion to focus on the “one child in a million,” as though each were our own that makes me most proud. You are the face of Head Start, made even more beautiful by the loving attitude and hard work you bring to Head Start every day.

I have traveled our nation and met magnificent and highly competent people throughout all levels of Head Start. It is not just your minds, but your hearts and minds working in unison that must continue guiding us forward with compassion and focus. Therefore, I leave the Office of Head Start with the knowledge that it remains in capable hands—hands that are guided by passionate hearts and sharpened minds.

As always, I am deeply humbled and honored to have worked with each and every one of you. My very best wishes for you from this day forward.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Blanca E. Enriquez

Dr. Blanca Enriquez is the Director at the Office of Head Start.

Source: A Farewell Letter from Dr. Enriquez

Available at: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/hs/news/blog/farewell-dr-enriquez.html

Education Agenda 2017: Top Priorities for State Leaders, the Next Administration, and Congress

1/4/2017

Today’s students are the next generation of American doers and thinkers. The most diverse population ever, they have the honor and the burden of keeping the United States on the forefront of innovation and social progress.

To ensure students can succeed, our country’s publicly-funded education system—from early learning to public schools, and through higher education and workforce training—must be strengthened. So far, this system has failed too many of our country’s young people—turning them off of learning before they exit elementary school, leading them to repeat grades or drop out, requiring them to engage in costly remediation, and more. Widespread disparities are festering between students from high-income and low-income families; racial justice is still wanting; and linguistic diversity is still seen as a challenge instead of an opportunity.

To reform this system, New America’s Education Policy program recommends that leaders in the new administration, members of Congress, and state and local policymakers turn their attention to 10 important actions:

  1. Expand access to quality early learning.
  2. Smooth transition points from pre-K through higher education and into the workforce.
  3. Transform the preparation and ongoing development of educators.
  4. Align research and development to educational practice.
  5. Build an infrastructure for supporting dual language learners (DLLs).
  6. Improve access to and linkages between education and workforce data while protecting student privacy.
  7. Hold “bad actors” in the higher education system accountable.
  8. Simplify and target financial aid to the students who need it most.
  9. Repair the federal-state partnership in higher education.
  10. Connect education and the labor market by moving beyond the “skills gap.”

Source: New America Foundation

Available at: http://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/policy-papers/education-agenda-2017/

U.S. Department of Education Announces $3 Million in Pay for Success Grants for Preschool Programs

12/22/2016

The U.S. Department of Education announced today more than $3 million in grant awards to eight government organizations for Preschool Pay for Success feasibility pilots that will support innovative funding strategies to expand preschool and improve educational outcomes for 3- and 4-year-olds. These grants will allow states, school districts and other local government agencies to explore whether Pay for Success is a viable financing mechanism for expanding and improving preschool in their communities in the near term.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence that attending high-quality preschool can help level the playing field for our most vulnerable children, we continue to have a huge unmet need in this country,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “We’re pleased that these grantees will work in their communities to make the case for investing in early education and drive expansion of high-quality preschool.”

Pay for Success is an innovative way of partnering with philanthropic and private sector investors to provide resources for service providers to deliver better outcomes—producing the highest return on taxpayer investments. Through Pay for Success, the government agrees to pay for concrete, measurable outcomes, but taxpayer funds are spent only if those outcomes are achieved.

Twenty-one applications were reviewed.  Among the 8 winners are one state (Minnesota), one charter school, one school district and five local government agencies.

  • Napa Valley Unified School District, CA, $380,944
  • Santa Clara County Office of Education, CA, $392,704
  • Ventura County Office of Education, CA, $397,000
  • Minnesota Department of Education, MN, $397,158
  • Mecklenburg County Government, NC, $335,677
  • Cuyahoga County Office of Early Learning, OH, $374,320
  • Clatsop County, OR, $350,000
  • The Legacy Charter School, SC, $381,815

These feasibility studies will advance the understanding of how Pay for Success can be used to expand and improve the quality of preschool programs for low-income and disadvantaged preschoolers. Each grantee identified potential outcome measures for students that attend preschool, such as improved kindergarten readiness, reading and math growth or achievement, and improved social and emotional skills. Those outcomes will be evaluated over the course of the grant. The grantees will also examine whether children’s social and emotional development is predictive of future school success, cost savings and other societal benefits.

Each Pay for Success project will include an assessment of the design and expansion of an evidence-based preschool program and a cost-benefit analysis showing the return on investment to the community. In the event the Pay for Success model is determined to not be a viable model for funding early childhood learning in a particular community, the grantee’s final report will detail those reasons and offer potential alternatives to Pay for Success that would positively impact early childhood learning.

The grants require safeguards to protect the rights of children with disabilities if the reduction in the need for special education is one of the outcome measures explored in the feasibility studies.  Three of the studies included special education as an outcome measure, and the proposals for all three of these include safeguards and emphasize the importance of engaging special education and disability stakeholders.

The Education Department supports initiatives that are based on evidence, focus on outcomes, and improve education for students at all ages, including early childhood, elementary and secondary education, career and technical education, post-secondary and adult education. Pay for Success is one of several strategies that the Department can use to promote evidence-based policy. In addition to its potential to lead to high-quality Pay for Success projects that provide or expand early education for children, these investments will add knowledge to the field about a wider range of outcome measures that preschool Pay for Success projects should consider and will encourage other entities to set strong guardrails when using special education as an outcome measure.

Today, the Department also released another resource to explore how educators might build on and sustain the positive effects of preschool.  A new case study of five programs examined two types of promising strategies to support children’s learning in early elementary school: (1) aligning instruction from preschool through grade 3, and (2) differentiated instruction.  The five programs included:

  • Boston Public Schools
  • Chicago Child–Parent Centers (Chicago and St. Paul)
  • Early Works (Portland, Oregon)
  • FirstSchool (Martin County, North Carolina)
  • Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) program (Redwood City, California)

Findings indicate that all five aligned instruction across grades by coordinating standards, curricula, instructional practices and professional development. Common elements of these programs included the use of professional learning communities, coaches, parent engagement, and play-based or student-initiated learning. All reported using strategies to accommodate students’ different skill levels, including modifying assignments, adapting learning materials, providing different levels of support, or using small-group instruction.

Source: Office of Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education

The Obama Early Childhood Legacy

12/15/2016

By Laura Bornfreund and David Loewenberg

In a matter of weeks, the portrait of President Obama that hangs in the lobby of the Department of Education will be taken down. What policies and programs come down with it remains to be seen, raising questions about what the Obama legacy in education will be: How will he be remembered? What indelible mark has his administration left on education in our country?  What policies, if any, will outlive his administration? Finally, however the recent election alters (or tarnishes) his legacy, will his administration’s mark on early childhood education withstand?

While early learning was arguably overshadowed by K-12 reforms during the Obama administration’s first term, over the course of the past eight years, great strides have been made to improve the quality—and increase the availability—of high-quality early education offerings across the country.Since 2009, federal investment in early childhood programs has increased by more than $6 billion. Thanks to that funding, thousands more children are being served in state pre-K programs, steps have been taken to improve the quality of childcare, and Head Start—the nation’s largest federally funded early education program—has been overhauled to make it a higher quality, more flexible program. Today, nearly all states provide some funding for pre-K, and state investment in pre-K continues to rise. What’s more, 40 states are measuring early childhood program quality—up from 17 at the beginning of Obama’s administration.

Through the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC), 20 states have received a combined total of more than $1 billion to improve children’s access to high-quality early learning programs. And for the first time ever, there is a dedicated Office of Early Learning in the Department of Education (ED) — a move that proved to be significant in both symbolic and practical terms. Since its creation in 2011, the office has worked to thread early learning across ED offices and has improved coordination between ED and the Department of Health and Human Services which administers Head Start and other early childhood programs.

Perhaps most importantly, though, the president has used his bully pulpit to lift early education into the national spotlight. This was never more evident than in 2013 when President Obama used his State of the Union address to highlight the promise of early learning. Speaking on perhaps the most prominent stage in politics, the president set the ambitious goal of making high-quality pre-K available to every single child in America. This historic shout-out for early education was followed by the rollout of his “Preschool for All” proposal. While the proposal never gained much legislative traction, for the first time in recent memory, early childhood education became a centerpiece in the national conversation around improving education.

So has the access and quality of early childhood education for children and families improved over the last eight years of the Obama administration? The answer is an unequivocal “yes.”

There is room for debate, however, when it comes to whether the actions and rhetoric of the Obama administration have ushered in the type of sustainable, large-scale improvements that are needed.

While state pre-K programs are serving thousands more children, and while nearly all states now fund pre-K, the percentage of children served has remained relatively flat. Just 41 percent of four-year-olds and 16 percent of three-year-olds were enrolled in publicly-funded pre-K programs in 2015 — an increase of a mere 3 percent from 2008 levels and a far cry from the president’s 2013 call for “Preschool for All” four-year-olds.

And while it is certainly true that more states are investing in their youngest, the state of early education in the U.S., as a whole, is one that remains plagued by significant issues when it comes to quality, cost, and the workforce. The quality of state pre-K programs and other early childhood programs remains extremely varied, the cost of good child care is still far out of reach for most families, particularly low-income families, and the early childhood workforce continues to be severely underpaid.

Further complicating the record of progress, kindergarten and the early grades are still largely ignored in much of federal and state policy and the notion of a birth-through-third grade system — even a pre-K-3rd grade system — as a whole, is still just that, an idea rather than common practice. And as skeptics of large-scale pre-K programs will point out, we still don’t fully understand how best to ensure that the academic benefits of pre-K endure over time.

In short, progress has been made but significant work remains if the U.S. hopes to arrive at a place where its youngest children receive the educational opportunities they need and deserve.

Undoubtedly the Obama Administration did more than those that came before to make children’s earliest years an important part of the national education conversation. By incentivizing state and local investments and creating a national platform for the issue, the Obama administration has unmistakably helped to strengthen the quality and availability of early learning across the country. Still, rather than fundamentally transforming the early education landscape, it may be more accurate to say that the Obama years have laid important groundwork necessary for large-scale efforts in the years to come — should there be future leaders who make doing so a priority.

Source: New America

Available at: https://www.newamerica.org/weekly/edition-146/obama-early-childhood-legacy/

Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities; Preschool Grants for Children With Disabilities; Final Rule

12/19/16

The Secretary amends the regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governing the Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities program and the Preschool Grants for Children with Disabilities program. With the goal of promoting equity under IDEA, the regulations will establish a standard methodology States must use to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring in the State and in its local educational agencies (LEAs); clarify that States must address significant disproportionality in the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions, using the same statutory remedies required to address significant disproportionality in the identification and placement of children with disabilities; clarify requirements for the review and revision of policies, practices, and procedures when significant disproportionality is found; and require that LEAs identify and address the factors contributing to significant disproportionality as part of comprehensive coordinated early intervening services (comprehensive CEIS) and allow these services for children from age 3 through grade 12, with and without disabilities.

Source: Federal Register, Volume 81 Issue 243

Available at: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-12-19/html/2016-30190.htm

Head Start is underfunded and unequal, according to a new study

12/14/16

Head Start, the federal program that provides education, nutrition and health services to low-income children and their families, is not adequately funded and is administered so differently from state to state that children do not benefit equally, according to a new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The 478-page report, “State(s) of Head Start,” released Wednesday, calls for a near tripling of the program’s budget — to more than $20 billion — to fully meet its goals for serving 3- and 4-year-old children living in poverty. It also points to wide gaps in Head Start programs related to quality of instruction, amount of instruction, access to programs and levels of funding.

“Despite decades of bipartisan support for Head Start, we conclude that the program suffers from inadequate overall public investment,” the report’s authors wrote. “Simply put, the program is not funded at a level that would make it possible to provide child development services of sufficient quality and duration to achieve its goals while serving all eligible children even at ages 3 and 4, much less for those under age 3.”

The report, which compiled program data from 50 states, the District of Columbia and six territories, provides a deeper understanding of who Head Start serves and where it operates best, said Steven Barnett, executive director of NIEER and one of the study’s authors. But it also makes clear, he says, how and where the program has fallen short.

“The percentage of poor kids that Head Start serves nationally could be as low as a quarter, meaning that 75 percent of the children in poverty are not getting Head Start,” Barnett said in an interview. “I don’t think people understand that. And then if you say that the intended population is not just kids who are poor, but kids who are near-poor, then I think people don’t understand that that’s half the children in the country.”

The report arrives as Donald Trump prepares to step into the White House amid uncertainty about funding priorities in the new administration. The Health and Human Services Department, which is expected to be led by Trump’s nominee, Tom Price (R-Georgia), runs Head Start.

Barnett said that while there are questions about the new administration’s plans, he believes there is reason to be optimistic…

Source: The Washington Post

Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/head-start-is-underfunded-and-unequal-according-to-a-new-study/2016/12/14/54b01b24-c095-11e6-897f-918837dae0ae_story.html

Guide to Trend Mapping 

A trend map is a visual depiction of relevant trends influencing the system around a given topic. Developing a trend map can help a group deepen their understanding of an issue through exploring related history, identifying key external factors, and tracking shifts in social and cultural norms.

This guide will walk you through a feasibility assessment as well as how to prepare for and facilitate a trend mapping activity.

View the System Tools Matrix to help determine when trend mapping is the right tool.

Source: FSG

Available at: http://www.fsg.org/tools-and-resources/guide-trend-mapping

Improving the Odds 

5/2016

Recent research and advocacy efforts have led funders, politicians, and the business community to agree that the first years of a child’s life can determine the rest of their development. Across ideological divides, there is consensus that investing early makes sense—it helps children prepare for successful futures and creates a high return on investment of public dollars.

We have created this short guide, featuring examples and how-to’s based on our work with more than a dozen foundations working to make progress in the early care and education space. The guide highlights 7 principles to help funders understand and anticipate the challenges and opportunities of supporting early care and education, including practical advice on how to:

  • Inclusively identify and constructively connect the many actors that provide quality care and education to children and their families.
  • Navigate challenges that arise from a sector filled with different approaches and business models.
  • Balance long-term strategies and outcome measures with short-term wins and progress markers.

Source: FSG

Available at: http://fsg.org/tools-and-resources/improving-odds

What the work is all about: A Presentation from the U.S. Department of Education

12/14/16

US Dept. of Education

Dear Friend — 

 

Throughout the last eight years, a lot of good work has been done in schools and communities across the country. 

High school graduation rates are at an all-time high (83 percent!), and the dropout rate has decreased—with all groups making progress, and students of color closing gaps. But the work is far from over. 

Join us at 10 am ET and watch live as Secretary King lays out his vision for the future of public education.

 

Final Speech

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As part of the Opportunity Across America Tour, we have crisscrossed the country this year promoting equity and excellence, supporting and lifting up the teaching profession, and giving more students access to earn an affordable degree with real value. 

That’s what our work is all about, ensuring a brighter future for our country. We hope you’ll join us this morning and help us spread the message far and wide.

Together, we will continue to advocate for our nation’s most vulnerable students and ensure that all students get an opportunity to be successful.

 

From your friends at the U.S. Department of Education