From: Honeysett, Adam
Subject: [ED_REVIEW] ED Review (09/26/14)
Date: Fri Sep 26 13:16:18 MDT 2014

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September 26, 2014




This week, the Department announced the official three-year federal student loan cohort default rate has declined from 14.7% in Fiscal Year 2010 to 13.7% in FY 2011.  The decrease was across all sectors of higher education -- public, private, and for-profit institutions -- even though an additional 650,000 students entered repayment in FY 2011.  “While it’s good news that the default rate decreased from last year, the number of students who default on their federal student loans is still too high,” Secretary Duncan said (background call), “and we remain committed to working with postsecondary education institutions and borrowers to ensure that student debt is manageable.”


Student loan default rates were calculated using the cohort of borrowers who entered repayment on Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans between October 1, 2010, and September 30, 2011, and who defaulted before September 30, 2013.  During this time, more than 4.7 million borrowers entered repayment, and about 650,000 defaulted on their loans.  These borrowers attended 5,908 postsecondary schools across the country.


The three-year default rate declined from 13% to 12.9% for public institutions, from 8.2% to 7.2% for private, non-profit institutions, and from 21.8% to 19.1% for for-profit institutions.


Schools with high default rates may lose eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs.  This year, one adult and continuing education school and 20 for-profit schools are subject to loss of eligibility for default rates that were 30% or greater for three consecutive years, more than 40% for the latest year, or both.  Also, all schools with a default rate that is 30% or greater must form a default prevention task force that prepares a plan to identify the factors causing the school’s high default rate and submit that plan to the Department.


The public can search for individual school default rates -- by name, city, state, institution type, or eligibility status -- online.




Also this week, Secretary Duncan joined philanthropist Eli Broad and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair in New York City to announce Orange County Public Schools in Florida and Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia as the co-winners of the 2014 Broad Prize for Urban Education -- the largest education prize in America awarded to the most improved urban school district.  The two districts will split the $1 million prize, with each receiving $500,000 in college scholarships for their high school seniors.  This was the first year that the review board that selects the finalists opted to advance only two districts -- compared to four or five as in previous years -- to the selection jury, reflecting their disappointment with the overall progress of urban systems.  Orange County was a first-time finalist.  Gwinnett County won the 2010 Broad Prize after being a finalist in 2009.  This was the first year Gwinnett County was eligible again for the award.  (Note: A video on the two finalists, featuring interviews with their superintendents, is available online.)


Later that day, the Secretary visited New York City’s Talent Unlimited High School for the launch of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s third annual American Graduate Day, celebrating the exceptional work of individuals and organizations who are “champions” -- helping local youth stay on track for college and career successes.  At the event, he was interviewed by Jane Williams, host of Bloomberg EDU.  He highlighted investments the Department is making in states and partnerships that will help more low-income and at-risk students prepare for, enter, and succeed in college.


And, earlier that day in an Oval Office ceremony, President Obama became the seventh consecutive president to sign a declaration calling on Americans to do more to help young people reach their full potential.




Last week, the Obama Administration announced a new competition to designate a second round of Promise Zones.  The zones are part of the President’s plan to create a new pathway to the middle class by partnering with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime.  Urban, rural, and tribal communities nationwide are invited to put forward a plan to partner with community leaders to make evidence-based investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity.  In exchange, these designees will receive priority access to federal investments that further their strategic plans, federal staff on the ground to help them implement their goals, and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the initiatives (fact sheets: 1 and 2).


Last January, the President named the first five Promise Zones: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.  The work being done in these zones is already helping move the needle in key areas.  For example, 2,000 youth in Los Angeles were able to find a summer job through a youth employment initiative; graduation rates have reached 90% in San Antonio’s Promise Zone; 900 unemployed adults in southeastern Kentucky have been connected to a job; and over 700 households and 50 businesses in remote southeast Oklahoma will soon have, for the first time, access to clean, safe drinking water.


Any community meeting the eligibility criteria can apply for designation.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development intends to designate six urban communities (including both large and small cities), while the Department of Agriculture intends to designate at least one rural community and at least one tribal community.  Applications are due by November 21.


Urban, rural, and tribal application guides and Frequently Asked Questions are posted here.


Leaders are invited to participate in Promise Zone initiative stakeholder webinars on September 29 and October 1.




Before the end of the federal fiscal year (September 30), the Department is announcing a number of competitive grant awards.  Among them:


·         Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP): $82 million for 41 grants -- 10 state grants and 31 partnership grants -- that will help 116,000 at-risk students to prepare for college and receive the support they need to achieve success in postsecondary education.

·         “Now is the Time” programs: $70 million for 130 grants -- 12 School Climate Transformation grants for states, 71 School Climate Transformation grants for districts, 22 Project Prevent grants, and 25 School Emergency Management grants -- to help make schools safer, reduce gun violence by keeping guns out of dangerous hands, and increase mental health services.

·         Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program: $3.9 million for 10 grants to implement demonstration projects, innovative strategies, and scientifically based research to enhance services provided to gifted and talented K-12 students.

·         Teacher Quality Partnership Program: $35 million for 24 grants funding new partnerships between universities and high-need districts that will recruit, train, and support more than 11,000 teachers over the next five years -- primarily in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields -- to improve student achievement.




On September 19, in the White House East Room, President Obama and Vice President Biden launched “It’s On Us” -- an awareness campaign to put an end to sexual assault on college campuses (fact sheet).  The campaign asks everyone -- men and women -- to make a personal commitment to step off the sidelines and be part of the solution.  An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years.  Of those assaults, only 12% are reported.  Of those reported assaults, only a fraction of the offenders are punished.  (Note: The Obama Administration has taken steps to help bring an end to campus sexual assaults by sending guidance to every district, college, and university on legal obligations to prevent and respond to sexual assaults; creating the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault to work with colleges and universities on developing critical best practices; and reviewing existing laws to make sure they adequately protect victims of sexual assault.)




·         President Obama recently signed into law a Continuing Resolution (CR), extending funding for education programs and other parts of the federal budget at Fiscal Year 2014 levels -- minus a modest, 0.0554% across-the-board rescission -- through December 11, 2014.  What is a CR, and exactly what does this one include?  The White House has released answers to some key questions.

·         On September 23, Secretary Duncan delivered remarks at the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference, titled “HBCUs: Innovators for Future Success.”

·         As part of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), the White House honored 10 Latino educators as “Champions of Change.”  Moreover, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic is highlighting Hispanic teachers to demonstrate that, while they are under-represented in the profession, they are dedicated to serving their community through teaching (see web page).  The public is encouraged to commend Latino teachers in their own communities using the hashtag #LatinosTeach.

·         Ed Games Week -- a series of events, including an Ed Games Exposition and Ed Games Workshop -- wrapped up with a 48-hour Education Game Jam, bringing together more than 100 game developers, teachers, and students.

·         The Department’s Progress blog spotlights state and local innovative ideas, promising practices, lessons learned, and resources informed by the implementation of K-12 education reforms.  Currently, one can read about the work of Colorado teachers to build a state educator effectiveness system focused on continuous improvement to better prepare students for success.  Ideas for content may be sent to




I wish I could see every innovative program -- every initiative creating promise for our children – happening across the country, but even after visiting all 50 states and more than 350 schools during my time as Secretary, I can’t visit every school.  So that’s where you come in.  What cutting-edge programs are your local schools undertaking?  Or, if you don’t know of any, what would you like to see them do?  We’ll share some of your stories and suggestions on the White House blog….  We should celebrate the gains we’ve made these past couple years, but we can’t be fully satisfied.  There’s still much more to do to support all students so they may reach their full potential.  So, in this new school year, let’s get to work.”


-- Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (9/18/14), in a blog post inviting the public to share stories on innovative programs (web form)




October is Connected Educator Month, and the initial calendar features hundreds of events.  Educators at all levels, as well as those who support them, are welcome to sign-up for regular updates on interactive webinars and other events, forums, showcases, and contests.  They are also urged to develop, host, and run their own activities, publish content, and generally promote the month.


On October 1, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) will host a learning session: “Teaching Science and Literacy to English Learners.”  The event, at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., will feature nationally acclaimed scholar Diane August, who will discuss studies on research-based practices for developing science, language, and literacy knowledge and skills in English learners from heterogeneous middle grades science classrooms.  Practitioners from the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association will provide teachers’ perspectives in response to the presentation and elaborate on challenges and opportunities for developing grade-level language and literacy skills in English learners.  The event will be live streamed via EDstream.  To RSVP to attend or learn more about how to participate, please contact


On October 8, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Director Andrea Falken and Deputy Assistant Secretary for State and Local Engagement Joe Walsh will visit schools in Maryland, as part of the agency’s second annual Green Strides Best Practices Tour.  This year’s tour, entitled “Healthy Schools, High-Achieving Students,” is focused on environmental health.  Federal, state, and local visitors will bring attention to best practices of honored schools and districts.  The tour has already traveled through West Virginia, Kentucky, Florida (1 and 2), Colorado, and Minnesota.  Events are open to the public.



ED Review is a product of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications and Outreach, State and Local Engagement – Joseph P. Walsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary


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