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Education Report August 13, 2010

The Education Report

AUGUST 13, 2010
Della Cronin, Editor

The Education Report, a weekly publication of WPLLC, provides an executive summary of
public policy issues affecting American education. Please use the bookmarks below to
navigate to your area of interest:

  1. Budget and Appropriations
  2. In Brief
  3. New Publications
  4. In the News

1. Budget and Appropriations
Following months of intense lobbying on the part of education organizations in Washington,
D.C. and across the country, on Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed HR 1586 on a
vote of 247-161. It was the third time some version of the bill had come to the House floor.
This final bill, which, through an odd error in Senate drafting was unnamed, had been adopted by
the Senate late last week. It will provide $10 billion to all fifty states and the District of
Columbia to prevent the layoffs of as many as 160,000 teachers and other school employees.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) interrupted a six-week recess to reconvene the House to get
the bill to President Obama’s desk for signature prior to the start of the school year.

The measure also includes $16 billion in aid to states to cover increased Medicaid costs, a
provision that was heavily endorsed by governors. Deep divisions among Congressional
Democrats and Republicans about how the government should be responding to the faltering
economy made what would otherwise have been a bi-partisan jobs bill a highly controversial
measure. Funding should reach states within 45 days.

While in their emergency session, the House of Representatives also passed legislation that
provides an additional $600 million to tighten border security. In order to get this bill to
President Obama and have bragging rights during campaign season regarding the highly
sensitive immigration issue, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called the Senate back from
recess as well, for a quick Thursday session. Fortunately, for Senators who started a five-week
recess last Friday, Senate action only requires the presence of two Members to get the job done.
Also on Thursday, the Senate took up a resolution honoring former Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK),
who died in a plane crash in Alaska earlier in the week.

Barring another unforeseen emergency, the Congress will return to the Nation’s Capitol for a
three-weed legislative session that will begin on September 14th and end on October 8th.

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  1. In Brief
    On Tuesday, the Department of Education (ED) sponsored a webinar titled, “Data Driven:
    Making Student and School Data Accessible and Meaningful to Families” in partnership with
    United Way Worldwide, the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), SEDL and the Harvard
    Family Research Project. This was the third in a series of webinars titled, “Achieving
    Excellence and Innovation in Family, School and Community Engagement.” Earlier webinars
    highlighted family engagement strategies and leveraging it as a tool for increasing student
    academic success. Tuesday’s webinar focused on how to make student and school data
    understandable and useful to families to encourage active participation in academic life. Anna
    Hinton, Director of Parental Options and Information for the Office of Innovation and
    Improvement at ED, opened the webinar, and was followed by Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy
    Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. Jennings explained that safety in schools
    is paramount to keeping youth in school pointing out that bullying is nearly twice as likely a
    predictor of school avoidance as is crime. Data on failing grades or unexcused absences can
    indicate to a parent that something is amiss. Zena Rudo, Project Director of the National PIRC
    Coordination Center for SEDL, explained that good data and data systems must be accessible,
    understandable, valid, updated and utilize new technology. She stated that data should be
    individualized so that it is specific and provides important information for families regarding
    their children. Rudo also emphasized that data should encompass all academics, from the
    morning’s first class through participation in afterschool programs. “Without data, we are just
    people with opinions,” said Rudo. Jennifer Saltzstein, Project Director of the Achievement
    Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) Parent Link for the New York City Department of
    Education, explained that ARIS, New York City’s data reporting system, links parents and
    teachers to student data. The tool provides an array of information, from explaining the
    importance of a standardized test score to specific grades and school-wide comparisons. By
    providing the same data to teachers and families, the families become empowered. For families
    without access to computers, the tool can be accessed at libraries, food pantries and other
    community-based organizations. Similarly, Barbara Taveras, Director of Community
    Engagement of New Visions for Public Schools, explained that data can help achieve college-
    and career-readiness. The Good to Go tool provides a color coded representation of the student’s
    progress in reaching college-ready qualifications so that families and educators are able to assist
    the student in difficult areas or encourage the student to continue achieving. D’Lisa Crain, Grant
    Administrator of the Nevada State PIRC Education Alliance of Washoe County, provided an
    overview of workshops her organization held in community-based organizations and schools to
    introduce parents to the technology that would allow them to track their child’s achievement,
    called Edline. The workshops also explained basic academic principles, such as the grading
    system and what qualifies as an unexcused absence, which was helpful in closing cultural gaps
    and misunderstandings. During these workshops, small groups of parents are encouraged to
    access the tool, explore it and ask questions. More information and access to other useful tools
    will be posted at:

    On Friday, August 6, Checker Finn, Jr., President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, made a
    presentation to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) on governance issues related
    to the Common Core Standards and Assessments. Finn gave credit to the National Governors
    Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) for doing a
    “remarkably good job” on the development of the Common Core Standards, and a recent review
    conducted by Fordham found the new standards to be more rigorous than the current standards of
    two-thirds of the states. While states continue to adopt the standards, Finn wanted NAGB to
    think more about the future of the standards and how and who would oversee the operation and
    upkeep of the system over time. Questions such as, “Who owns the standards?”; “Who validates
    the standards over time?”; and “Who decides if more topics are needed?” were posed to NAGB
    members for consideration. Finn also pointed out that the whole situation is “complicated
    further by the intersection of the Common Core Standards with the yet to be developed
    assessments” and the resulting relationship with the National Assessment of Educational
    Progress (NAEP). Once new assessments are developed and adopted by a consortium of states,
    he questioned whether there would be a continued need for NAEP. Conceding that he did not
    have answers for any of these questions, Finn explained that the Gates Foundation has funded the
    Fordham Institute to conduct research and outreach on these governance issues and develop a
    paper outlining various options on how to move forward. This paper will be presented to the
    wider community in the fall. Finn’s remarks were followed by comments from Roberto
    Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy. Rodriguez stated that
    NAGB’s role remains “critically important to the ability to advance standards-based reform and
    to close achievement gaps of American students.” He also applauded NAGB’s ongoing focus on
    state level assessments and believes that NAEP should continue to focus on subjects beyond
    reading and math. Rodriguez also urged NAGB to focus on special populations, such as early
    learners, and to help identify appropriate benchmarks necessary for kindergarten entry. For more
    information, go to:

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  2. New Publications
    “Head Start Participants, Programs, Families and Staff in 2009” July 2010

“Early Head Start Participants, Programs, Families and Staff in 2009” July 2010
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  1. In the News
    “Students Spared Amid an Increase in Deportations” New York Times (8/8/10)

“Inexperienced Companies Chase U.S. School Funds” New York Times (8/8/10)

“Obama Calls for U.S. to Lead in Graduation” New York Times (8/9/10)

“NH’s Shaheen, Kamen Promote Science Education” Boston Globe (8/10/10)

“President Obama Signs $26 Billion Jobs Bill to Aid State Payrolls” Washington Post (8/11/10)

“GMU, Towson among 11 Schools with no Race ’Gap’ in Graduation Rate” Washington Post

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  1. About WPLLC
    For over 30 years, the principals and staff at WPLLC have specialized in the field of education, making sure the voices of
    associations and nonprofit organizations are heard—on Capitol Hill and in the media. As a full service government affairs and
    public relations firm, we work in strong partnership with our clients to position them for the greatest success now and in the
    future. Working as a team, relationships are structured to maximize the strengths of each client; the client’s mission is our driving
    force as we help them clarify needs, set goals and craft and implement successful strategies. WPLLC provides expertise in a
    variety of services:

• Government Relations
• Public Relations & Communications
• Policy Research and Analysis
• Strategic Planning
• Grassroots Activities
• Association Management
• Meeting and Conference Planning

For more information, please call us at 202.289.3900 or visit our website at
• • •
This publication contains links to Internet sites for the convenience of World Wide Web users. Washington Partners, LLC is not
responsible for the availability or content of these external sites, nor does Washington Partners, LLC endorse, warrant or
guarantee the information, services, or products described or offered at these other Internet sites.

Copyright 2010. Washington Partners, LLC. Redistribution of this memorandum or its content outside the immediate
organization of the intended recipient without the express prior permission of Washington Partners, LLC is prohibited. Readers
are encouraged to send comments about this publication to Della Cronin at or call 202.289.3900.

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