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Education Report January 21, 2011

The Education Report

JANUARY 21, 2011
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
  5. About WPLLC

  6. Budget and Appropriations
    The Republican-led House of Representatives made good on what they viewed as a major
    campaign promise this week—repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Though the tone of the
    debate was more circumspect than anticipated, the intensity of the political and policy viewpoints
    voiced during the debate made clear the deep difference between the parties. Majority Leader
    Harry Reid (D-NV) reiterated his pledge that the Senate will not take up the healthcare repeal
    bill, leaving many wondering what impact the House vote will have. Republicans vowed to
    continue their fight over healthcare policy in the budget and appropriations process, blocking
    funding for any initiative authorized by the new law.

The next order of business in the House will be reducing both the deficit and annual government
spending. A resolution was introduced in the House this week that supports cutting spending in
the FY 2011 budget—a major piece of unfinished business before the new Congress—back to
FY 2008 levels. Though a resolution has no force of law, it does signal the seriousness of the
Republican commitment to cut federal investments in all domestic areas—most particularly
education. The resolution, known as HR 38, if implemented would result in a cut of $9.42
billion for the Department of Education alone.

The decision on spending for FY 2011, however, will not be made by the House alone. The
White House and the Democratic majority in the Senate are unlikely to agree to such dramatic
cuts in critical domestic programs. The Senate returns to Washington next week, in time for the
President’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. That will mark the true start of the legislative
season, as he will outline his goals and priorities for the first session of the 112th Congress.
Following that address, work will begin in earnest to finalize a budget for the government for the
remaining months of FY 2011. At this point, it appears that a continuing resolution (CR)
freezing all funding at last year’s level is the best outcome education advocates can hope for.
And even that result—a cut of $40 billion over all government agencies—will be a hard fought

Rumors have circulated all week that the President in his State of the Union speech will urge the
Congress to take up the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
this year, linking school reform and improvement to economic recovery. An announcement by
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Tom Harkin (D-
IA) that he intends to bring a bill up for a vote in April, and comments from House Education
and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) that ESEA is on the agenda,
improve the likelihood that action might actually be taken sometime this year or next. Maybe.
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  1. In Brief
    On Wednesday, John Podesta, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American
    Progress (CAP) convened an event to release a new report titled, “Return on Educational
    Investment: A District-by-District Evaluation of U.S. Educational Productivity.” Podesta
    explained that during this time of economic hardship, and while K-12 budgets are being cut, it is
    imperative that states, districts and schools learn how to spend funds effectively because simply
    spending more money does not guarantee improved outcomes. Podesta also stressed that CAP is
    not encouraging less spending on education, however CAP supports a “bigger bang for each
    buck.” Ulrich Boser, Senior Fellow at CAP, presented the report?s findings and explained how
    to navigate the accompanying interactive website. The report relies on 2007-08 spending data in
    relation to reading and math proficiency rates in 4th and 8th grade and also controls for many
    factors that the districts do not control, including special education populations. For the past ten
    years, Boser explained, schools have been implementing standards based reform, however there
    have been very few measures of productivity. CAP aims for this project to start a dialogue about
    productivity; identify districts that exemplify doing more with less; and to urge districts to
    pursue, “create and sustain educational efficiencies.” Findings of the report include: levels of
    efficiency vary greatly within states and across the nation; more than one million students are
    attending schools in highly inefficient districts; schools with high expenditures per student are
    often inefficient; and highly productive districts tend to be focused on improving student
    outcomes rather than administration. Additionally, it was found that only Florida and Texas
    conduct annual school-level productivity surveys that disclose how effectively funds are spent
    locally, highlighting the troubling absence of productivity in many conversations when it is
    clearly key to understanding the success of a school. The report also offers recommendations—
    lawmakers should emphasize educational efficiency; high quality management systems should
    be implemented within districts; and districts should track information on educational outcomes
    and finance to create strong data. The event also featured an expert panel who discussed the
    importance of measuring productivity and some of the challenges associated. Jim Shelton,
    Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of
    Education (ED), explained that the entire education pipeline, from early education through post-
    secondary education, needs to learn to “educate better,” and ED is aiming to “create the context
    to move solutions forward.” For more information and to download the report, visit

On Wednesday, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) held an event at the
National Press Club to release its new publication titled, “More than Measurement: The TAP
System’s Lessons Learned for Designing Better Teacher Evaluation Systems.” With teacher
quality and teacher evaluation a central topic in all discussions regarding education reform, the
release of this paper offers policymakers and practitioners an opportunity to understand the
lessons learned from the TAP system. TAP was originally developed in 2000 by the Milken
Family Foundation and is described as “the longest sustained and most successful effort to
radically transform teacher evaluation using multiple measures, including student achievement
gains, in the United States today.” Carmel Martin, Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation
and Policy Development at the Department of Education (ED), stated that she has been “a fan for
years” and declared that “More than Measurement” will be a “must read” at ED. Specifically,
Martin pointed out that TAP’s comprehensive evaluation system is an effective way to improve
teaching and schools. Now run by NIET, the program exists in 15 states, 250 schools and serves
over 10,000 teachers and 100,000 students across the country, thus proving, according to Martin,
the TAP system is scalable. In addition, Martin highlighted the most important “lessons learned”
from the last decade of work on teacher evaluation, which she believes will have the most impact
on federal policy. This includes: 1) using multiple, rigorous and meaningful measures, which
includes more than student achievement gains, to evaluate teachers; 2) using an evaluation
system to support teachers and not just as a way to identify ineffective instructors; 3)
implementing quality control and external technical assistance to support schools as they
implement new evaluation systems; and 4) including teachers and school leaders in the
development of the evaluation system as well as using master teachers and leaders as evaluators
and coaches. For more information about this report, go to:
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  1. New Publications
    “2010 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students
    Learning" (January 2011)

“Return on Educational Investment” A District-by-District Evaluation of U.S. Educational
Productivity” (January 2011)

“More than Measurement: The TAP System’s Lessons Learned for Designing Better Teacher
Evaluation Systems” (January 2011)

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  1. In the News
    “Christie Says 23 Schools Get Charters” New York Times (1/18/11)

“Mrs. Obama Urges Students to Study Abroad” CNN (1/19/11)

“Can Obama, Congress Meet Minds to Revamp No Child Left Behind?” Christian Science
Monitor (1/20/11)

“Rethinking Evaluations When Almost Every Teacher Gets an „A?” New York Times (1/20/11)

“In Alexandria, Fight Over Additional Class Time Mirrors National Debate” Washington Post

“Governors Eye Greater Control Over Education” Education Week (1/21/11)
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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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