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Education Report October 29, 2010

The Education Report

OCTOBER 29, 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. In Brief
  2. New Publications
  3. In the News
  4. About WPLLC

  5. In Brief
    The Center for American Progress (CAP) launched the release of two reports on October 28 at an
    event titled, ?Improving Degree Completion for 21st Century Students.? The two reports, ?Easy
    Come, EZ-GO,? and ?Degree Completion Beyond Institutional Borders,? make four
    recommendations: 1) students must be provided with the appropriate information in order to
    make informed decisions about their education; 2) use federal investments in higher education
    efficiently; 3) utilize community colleges to scale up education support services for the
    workforce; and 4) align all involved parties to streamline the higher education system. The
    Under Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education, Martha Kanter, provided
    opening remarks stating that ?we must increase productivity, break down barriers students face,
    and truly work to incentivize attendance,? in order to reach President Obama‘s goal of a
    competitive workforce by 2020. In order to achieve this goal Kanter stated, it must not be seen
    as only a federal goal but ?should cut across every community? in the nation. Brian Sponsler,
    co-author of ?Easy Come, EZ-GO,? outlined findings that demonstrate 85 percent of jobs are
    located in metro areas and 45 percent of minority residents currently live in these metro areas,
    including many that cross state borders. These statistics led to the conclusion that these metro
    areas are the locations which collectively account for 28 percent of the nation‘s GDP and where
    the ?buyers? of recent college graduates reside. Thus, the authors propose the higher education
    landscape must be ?reconceptualized and realigned? across state‘s borders and among state
    leaders in order to address credit transfer issues, resident based tuition policies and state-based
    financial aid. The second paper, ?Degree Completion Beyond Institutional Borders,? addresses
    the retention issues that are a significant problem among the adult learner population. The
    majority of students in the higher education system are nontraditional and mobile students,
    Rebecca Klein-Collins, co-author of the report, explained. Due to rigid restrictions pertaining to
    transfer of credits and the multitude of obstacles a nontraditional student faces working to earn a
    postsecondary degree, the report proposes the follow as potential solutions to overcoming these
    barriers: 1.) allowing the use of existing credits; 2.) utilizing prior learning assessments (which
    assess what a student has learned outside of the classroom) for placement levels; and 3.) moving
    away from a credit system and into a knowledge based system of standards for graduation. Julie
    Carnahan, Senior Associate for the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), noted
    that one caveat to these recommended changes. Because they represent a federal ?top-down
    policy,? some of these suggestions ?may be met with resistance from states? if they are perceived
    as a ?one size fits all? solution. For more information on this event, visit:

On Thursday, the Department of Education (ED) released a set of regulations designed to
improve federal student aid programs by addressing 14 key areas of concern, including
?protecting students from aggressive or misleading recruiting practices, providing consumers
with better information about the effectiveness of career colleges and training programs and
ensuring that only eligible students or programs receive such aid.? More than 1,200 comments
were received on issues 1 through 13, and the comments ?led to 82 thoughtful revisions in the
proposals, including giving institutions additional time to put in place systems required by the
regulations; clarifying institutions‘ flexibility in the way they define a credit hour; and clarifying
exemptions for religious institutions.? The new rules will apply to for-profit, non-profit and
public institutions of higher education and will go into effect on July 1, 2011. The 14th issue,
gainful employment, was partially addressed in this release and will be fully addressed at a later
date. The extension for the gainful employment regulations is a result of over 90,000 comments
that were received by ED, and reflect what the Department described as their commitment to
release thoughtful, effective regulations. Public hearings on the issue will be held on November
4 and 5 to allow clarification of comments and to allow the public to answer questions from
officials. For a summary of the regulations, go to:

On October 18, the New America Foundation (NAF) hosted a panel of experts to discuss best
practices for integrating digital materials into the classroom. Lisa Guernsey, serving as the
moderator of the event and Director of the Early Education Initiation at the NAF, laid the
framework for the discussion by describing the gap that has existed between the goals
of policymakers and the front lines of a classroom. She explained that the wide gap has created
silos between schools and the policy community in the realm of education technology. This
discussion, Guernsey stated, was intended to ?open up? the silos and explore the opportunity
presented by common standards for more collaboration and integration of technology inside the
classroom. Lynne Munson from Common Core, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing
content-rich instruction to every classroom in America, presented curriculum maps her
organization designed to cover the k-12 grades that were born out of the Common Core State
Standards. These maps break down the year into six-week thematic units, with each unit
demonstrating the application of technology in the lesson plan, making it easy to incorporate
existing technology that is free, readily available and easy to use. Mark Osborne, Deputy
Principal of Albany Senior High School in New Zealand, which is an open source school,
described the powerful student outcomes seen using open source software. Osborne described
the process of creating such a school and the software that was created out of their need for
digital tools. When analyzing not only the cost of software but the learning
experiences occurring outside of the school day via the internet, he concluded free software
allows students to use classroom tools at home to extend their learning experience beyond the
typical 9 am to 3 pm school day. Not only was this software significantly less costly for the
school, but because it was free, it was readily available to all students. All necessary tools are
accessible online to complete assignments, and it serves as an engaging method to boost student
learning. Responding to what many would consider a tongue-tying question from the audience
pertaining to how education software companies can make a profit if the software is free and
intellectual property rights are so vulnerable in an open source software setting, Tim Vollmer, an
Open Policy Fellow for Creative Commons stated that companies are going to have to think
more creatively about partnering with corporations such as Google, Inc. and Apple, Inc. to
produce materials to address these issues. To read more about this event, visit:

On Tuesday, October 19, the Ready by 21 Policy Coalition held a Congressional briefing where
community and business leaders from Atlanta, GA, Chattanooga, TN, and Nashville, TN
discussed the model partnerships they have built to ensure all youth graduate from high school
ready to succeed in college, work and life. During the introductory remarks, Stephen Wing,
President of Corporate Voices for Working Families, stated that ?forty-two percent of high
school graduates lack the skills they need to make a successful transition into the 21st century
workplace, and overall, 20-30% of young people are failing to graduate from high school.? He
highlighted corporate efforts in the featured communities where the panelists have partnered with
local schools to support promising strategies to improve secondary education. Ronnie Steine,
Metro Councilman-at-Large from Nashville, shared stories from his work with the Mayor of
Nashville to create the Mayor‘s Office of Children and Youth and the Mayor‘s Youth Council.
Both offices established corporate sponsorships and partnered with businesses in the community
to offer internship, volunteer and job-shadowing opportunities. Gaye Morris Smith, Executive
Director of Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP), discussed how 20 years ago, she
had experimented with 15 counties in Georgia to create greater access and dissemination of
federal information, data and policies. ?Now,? Smith explained, ?GaFCP connects local, state,
and national partners in their efforts and builds from the existing coalitions to ensure that kids in
Georgia are healthy, ready to start school, do well when they get there, and that families are
stable and self-sufficient.? Thomas A.H. White, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations for
Unum Group, discussed his responsibilities in setting the course for Unum Group‘s corporate
philanthropy program. He discussed how the recent reevaluation of his company‘s impact on
Chattanooga Community Schools ignited reform and brought forth an entirely new program with
four features: the Elementary School Technology Grant; the Technology Challenge Grant; a
mentoring program with Big Brothers, Big Sisters; and finally, the Principal Leadership
Academy. For more information from this briefing, visit:

The Data Quality Campaign hosted an event on October 21 titled, "Using Data to Drive
Improvement in Education and Training: Voices from States." Five panelists, representing
Texas, Indiana, California and Florida, discussed their state data systems and how these systems
drive decision making regarding resource allocation, accountability and curriculum alignment,
leading to continuous academic improvement. Aimee Guidera teed-up the panel discussion by
explaining there is ?no single way for states to connect these data systems in the same manner
based on political realities and on decade-old systems in place.? The panel discussed the unique
aspects of each system and the various strategies implemented for a common purpose: better
policy decisions informed by data. Jay Pfeiffer, Program Director of State Longitudinal Data
Systems, representing the state of Florida, explained that the need for such systems became
evident once the state leaders realized the skill set of the workforce did not match the needs of
the labor market. Building a data system allows the state to assess and align the skills of students
with the skills needed in the Florida workforce. Indiana proved the value of this data collection
once it was used to reveal where ?workers were absorbed? after a critical industry in the state
had a ?meltdown.? Using this data, Indiana provided additional training to those individuals
aged 55 – 58, therefore maintaining their employment. All states acknowledged challenges
maintaining data privacy but overcame them successfully. In Texas, they developed a bifurcated
data system. All employees working with confidential information must be heavily screened and
trained prior to employment. Each panelist noted both the challenges and the advancements their
states had made addressing issues related to privacy. The information allowed them to improve
their education systems and provide a better workforce to industries in their states, which over
the long term, has provided great economic gains. For more information about this event, visit:

According to a report recently published in Demography and authored by Narayan Sastry, Ph. D.
and Anne Pebley, Ph. D., maternal literacy skills are the primary factor in determining the
academic achievement of children birth through age 7. The researchers found that a mother‘s
ability to read outranked family and neighborhood income, among other factors. For children 8
to 17 years of age, the report found that the neighborhood income level contributed the most to
student outcomes and directly followed maternal literacy skills in impacting younger children.
"This analysis gives us a chance to isolate the different factors that affect children‘s
achievement? according to Dr. Sastry. She went on to say that, "Policy measures to encourage
mixed-income neighborhoods, improve early childhood education, and build mothers‘ reading
skills each could have positive effects on children‘s achievement scores." The study included
data from more than 3,000 Los Angela‘s families through information collected for the ?Los
Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey? between April 2000 and December 2001. Analyzed
data included the results of reading and math assessments of 2,350 children ages 3 to 17; their
mothers‘ education level; records of neighborhood income; and family income. The National
Institutes of Health (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and
Human Development (NICHD) supported the study. For more information, visit
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  1. New Publications
    ?Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: How Teacher Performance Assessments Can Measure and
    Improve Teaching? (October 2010)

?Hours of Opportunity: Lessons from Five Cities on Building Systems to Improve After-School,
Summer School and Other Out-of-School time Programs? (October 2010)

?Mind the Gaps: How College Readiness Narrows Achievement Gaps in College Success?
(October 2010)

?A New Era of Education Reform: Preparing All Students for Success in College, Career and
Life? (October 2010)

?Cutting to the Bone: How the Economic Crisis Affects Schools? (October 2010)

?Now What? Imperatives & Options for ?Common Core‘ Implementation & Governance?
(October 2010)
?Districts Developing Leaders: Lessons on Consumer Actions and Program Approaches from
Eight Urban Districts? (October 2010)

“State Government Redesign Efforts 2009 and 2010” (October 2010)

“The Effects of Preschool Education: What We Know, How Public Policy Is or Is Not Aligned
With the Evidence Base, and What We Need to Know” (October 2010)

“Patterns of Student Mobility among English Language Learner Students in Arizona Public
Schools” (October 2010)

?Easy Come, EZ-GO? (October 2010)

?Degree Completion Beyond Institutional Borders? (October 2010)
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  1. In the News
    ?For-Profit Colleges Oppose Tighter Regulation in U.S.? New York Times (10/24/10)

?Help Stop Bullying, U.S. Tells Educators? New York Times (10/25/10)

?School Fiscal Concerns Haunt Electoral Landscape? Education Week (10/26/10)

?Education Dept. Expands Oversight of Colleges? Washington Post (10/28/10)

“New Student Card: Big Benefit or Big Brother?? Boston Globe (10/28/10)

?Tuition, Pell Grants Rise in Tandem? Wall Street Journal (10/28/10)

“In Sharp Rise, 47 City Schools May Close Over Performance? New York Times (10/28/10)

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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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