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AAE Federal Update October 2, 2012
posted by: Cindy Omlin | October 03, 2012, 04:34 PM   

During last week's Education Nation summit, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told NBC's Brian Williams that he doesn't think the federal government should provide support-financial or otherwise-for common core standards, which have been adopted by forty-six states and the District of Columbia.

Instead, Governor Romney argued that states should front the money for their implementation if they choose to do so. His opinion stands in contrast to President Obama's beliefs about common core standards. The Obama administration has allocated $360 million to two consortia of states, in order to help develop tests that align with the standards, which were created through a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors' Association. The administration also gave states that adopted the standards an edge in the Race to the Top competitive grants competition.

"I don't happen to believe that every time there's an initiative that comes along, the federal government should finance it," Romney said, noting that the state he governed- Massachusetts- was able to boost its standards without having any extra federal funding.

In the same interview he chided Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for pushing a "national curriculum," although he added that he likes that the Obama administration has championed new teacher-evaluation systems and prodded states to expand charter schools through Race to the Top.

Click here to view the entire video interview.

U.S. Department of Education Back-to-School Bus Tour Comes to an End

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan arrived back in Washington, D.C. after an eight day Back-to-School bus tour across the country. On its final day, the "Education Drives America" bus made stops in Virginia, and ended in a rally at the U.S. Department of Education headquarters, in Washington, DC. In an effort to connect with local school districts to share best practices with federal officials, the tour made stops in ten states.

Throughout the tour, Secretary Duncan participated in various events, including introducing new community projects, speaking on education forums, and highlighting First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign. At its final tour stop in Washington, DC at the Department of Education's headquarters, hundreds of area students, federal staff and community members gathered for remarks by Secretary Duncan, student performances and a live concert.

During the tour's eight days, officials met with thousands of students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members. According to a DoED press release, "Department of Education staff left each stop with new ideas on what is working as well as what things aren't working," officials stressed.

Click here to read more about the back-to-school tour.

Teacher Incentive Fund Grants Announced

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced 35 Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grants awarded to improve pay structures, reward great teachers and principals and provide greater professional opportunities to teachers in high poverty schools. Winning applicants comprise districts, partnering districts, states, and nonprofits that together serve nearly 1,000 schools in 150 urban, suburban, and rural school districts in 18 states and D.C.

All applicants submitted proposals, developed in part by teachers, that provide opportunities for teacher leadership and advancement, put in place district-wide evaluations based on multiple measures that include student growth, and improve decision-making through better evaluations.

"The Teacher Incentive Fund called on local leaders to engage teachers in influencing the future of the teaching profession," said Assistant Secretary for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Deb Delisle. "Many more districts will benefit tremendously from an investment in scaling up and securing the talents and abilities of effective teachers and principals within their toughest schools."

The 35 winners were selected from a pool of over 120 applications. Award amounts represent the first two years of funding over the five-year grant period. Click here to view a full list of winners.

Congressional Subcommittee Discusses Effectiveness and Efficiency of Federal Higher Education Data

The Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), held a hearing last week entitled, "Assessing College Data: Helping to Provide Valuable Information to Students, Institutions, and Taxpayers." In preparation for the next reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), the hearing explored whether the federal higher education data collection system is appropriately serving students, taxpayers, and institutions.

"Without a doubt, the [2008] reauthorization of the Higher Education Act started a process of enhancing higher education transparency. But as tuition continues to rise at an astonishing pace, it is clear more work must be done to help students and families make informed choices about their higher education options without overburdening institutions with counterproductive red tape," Rep. Foxx stated.

During the hearing, higher education experts discussed their concerns about the current federal higher education data collection system. While explaining the shortcomings in the Department of Education's primary system for data collection, witnesses insisted that the current reporting system is flawed.

As Rep. Foxx noted in her opening remarks, the nation's 7,000 postsecondary education institutions are expected to dedicate an incredible 850,000 hours and $31 million to fulfill data reporting requirements in the 2012-2013 academic year. Panelists insisted that compiling meaningful and useful data is the key to increasing efficiency in reporting as well as a passing cost savings on to students.

Click here
to view video from the hearing.

Originally posted by Alix at AAE.

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