Education Week - November 11, 2015 - (Page 19)

BLOGS $20 Million Pilot Program Would Offer Pell Grants to High School Students POLITICS K-12 | For years, Pell Grants have helped low-income college students cover part of the cost of postsecondary education. Now, the U.S. Department of Education is moving to expand the program to high school students who want to take dual-enrollment courses that can count for college credit. The Obama administration is planning to create a $20 million pilot program that would allow high schoolers to use Pell Grants to pay for college courses. To put that in context, the Pell Grant program is about $67.1 billion total. (The maximum Pell Grant for this school year is $5,775.) But if the program were expanded widely, it could be a real game changer. Ultimately, the program could benefit up to 10,000 students from low-income families next school year. The Education Department put a notice in the Federal Register inviting postsecondary institutions (four-year colleges, community colleges, etc.) to partner with a school district or high school and apply to be part of the program. Some caveats: The grants can only be used for courses that could eventually lead to a postsecondary credential (i.e., a bachelor's or associate degree). Those same courses can also count toward a high school diploma, but that's not a must. The program would give high school students the chance to earn at least 12 postsecondary credits. And school districts and colleges that decide to participate need to do what they can to make sure these high schoolers are successful in the college courses they take. That means offering counseling and tutoring support (if necessary) and giving students a hand with the notoriously difficult-to-fill-out Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Will private high schools be able to participate? Not right now, says the Education Department-at this point the department is going to stick with public schools, since they have built-in oversight from local school boards and states. | -ALYSON KLEIN New Restrictions on Ohio Charter Grant Spelled Out in Letter From Ed. Dept. CHARTERS & CHOICE | The U.S. Department of Education has outlined new restrictions on a $32 million dollar grant it gave Ohio to expand charter schools in the state. The move follows sharp criticism from lawmakers at the federal and state levels, as well as Ohio's auditor, over the department's decision to award such a large sum of money to the state under the federal Charter Schools Program. Ohio's charter sector has been under intense scrutiny for a number of issues, including corruption and poor academic outcomes in several of its schools. Critics are concerned the windfall of cash will only perpetuate these issues. The state is slated to receive a total of $71 million over the next five years under the federal charter program. As outlined in a Nov. 4 letter from the Education Department, Ohio now has to receive federal permission to draw down its funds. The state also has to submit all relevant state audits of its charter schools to the department, and give a detailed list of changes to the state's charter regulations, among other things. Ohio lawmakers passed a sweeping charter reform bill in September, which Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, signed into law. It requires in-depth financial and academic reporting from schools and management organizations, stops charter schools from switching authorizers-called sponsors in Ohio-to avoid getting shut down, and prohibits poorly rated sponsors from opening new schools, among other provisions. K-12 Among State Election Issues CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17 they argued, would hold legislators accountable for K-12 spending. But conservatives in control of the state legislature, as well as Bryant, balked at Initiative 42. They argued that it would only serve to undermine lawmakers' rightful role in state government. GOP legislators successfully placed an alternative measure, Alternative Initiative 42A, on the ballot to require an "efficient" system of public schools at the legislature's discretion. (In a two-part process for voters, they were asked to vote "yes" and then pick which of N the measures they supported, which led O I T ELEC Initiative 42 supporters to charge that the alternative only existed to sabotage their measure. Initiative 42 would have changed the state constitution, but the alternative would not.) Republican legislative leaders said after the vote, however, that they want to change Mississippi's education funding formula to try to push more money into classrooms and less into administrative expenses. "It's a constant source of conflict and dispute," said House Speaker Philip Gunn. "We need to find a way where the school systems can get what they need and in some way that doesn't result in an argument every year." 2015 Marijuana Revenue In Colorado, meanwhile, voters approved Proposition BB by a wide margin. That measure will allow the state to keep $66 million in tax revenue generated by marijuana sales in fiscal 2015. The majority of that revenue, about $40 million, will go toward school construction, while the remainder goes toward drug education and other educational programs. Colorado voted to legalize marijuana under certain conditions in 2013, along with Washington state. But because total revenue from marijuana sales exceeded projections, the proposition to allow the state to keep the proceeds or to return them to taxpayers was required under state law. Turning Point in Kentucky? In the last week of the Kentucky gubernatorial race, during which Bevin overcame Conway's lead in the polls, Bevin stated in a television ad that he would repeal the common core as part of his efforts to improve education in the state. "We did it because we were going to do what?" he asked about the state's adoption of the common core during a July debate with Conway. "We were going to 'Race to the Top' and get some free money from the federal government. ... It's our own money, let's not kid ourselves." Bevin was referring to the federal competitive-grant program that rewarded states for adopting the standards, but didn't mandate it. Bevin argued instead for looking at Massachusetts' standards before that state adopted the common core, and expressed concern that Kentucky was turning teachers into mere "test administrators." The state education department is already overseeing a review of the standards after several months of taking public input. Any revisions to the common core in Kentucky wouldn't occur until the 2016-17 school year, according to that review's timeline. Bevin doesn't have the power to unilaterally rewrite or toss the standards. But he does appoint the 11 members of the state board of education. The earliest Bevin can act on that power is next April, when the terms of four of the 11 members of the board expire. The state board voted to adopt the common core in 2010, and despite undertaking the review of the standards, has otherwise stood by them. The Associated Press contributed to this article. | -ARIANNA PROTHERO Official to Take Reins at Special District For Worst-Performing Schools in Tenn. DISTRICT DOSSIER | Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed Malika Anderson to head Tennessee's special school district for its worst-performing schools. Anderson will replace Chris Barbic, who has led the Achievement School District (ASD) since its inception in 2012. He leaves at the end of the year, and Anderson will take over in January. The state-run district operates 29 schools serving close to 10,000 students. Anderson, the ASD's current deputy superintendent, is a graduate of the Broad Foundation's Residency in Urban Education, a two-year training program for high-level managerial positions. She served that residency from 2009 to 2011 as director of academic analysis and support for the District of Columbia public schools. Shifting State Role on Accountability CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17 worst overall, plus another 10 percent of schools with big achievement gaps or other problems. The trouble is that many subgroup students aren't in those kinds of schools, said Daria Hall, the director of K-12 policy for the Education Trust, which looks out for poor and minority students. The vast majority of students of color "are in schools that are doing OK overall, but not for those groups of kids," Hall said at the CAP panel. Schools shouldn't be able to earn the highest rating on state accountability systems, she said, if subgroup students aren't making good progress-as some have been able to under waivers. "It can't be, 'Oh you got an A, but you're missing goals for your black kids,' " she said. Martin, who is now CAP's executive vice president for policy, pointed to the organization's analysis, released in late October, of Education Department data. 'Firmly Committed' CAP found that in 42 states, the gap between Hispanic and white students was bigger in top-performing schools than in struggling ones. In 39 states, the gap between black and white students was also greater in otherwise successful schools than in schools that are foundering. There's also a chance that an ESEA renewal doesn't pass during the next few months. In that case, it may be up to the next president to reimagine the federal role on accountability, perhaps through his or her own set of waivers. If that happens, states will roll with it, but they are sticking by their principles, the CCSSO said in its report. "State chiefs will continue to lead and remain firmly committed to strong accountability aligned to the principles," the report says. | -COREY MITCHELL Turnaround Issue Carmel Martin, who helped develop and implement the waivers as a top aide at the U.S. Department of Education, said the idea of a bottom 5 percent was to give state education agencies a manageable number of schools to concentrate their most dramatic efforts on. But she agreed that it's also important to consider subgroup performance. EDUCATION WEEK | November 11, 2015 | | 19

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 11, 2015

Education Week - November 11, 2015
RTI Practice Falls Short of Promise, Research Finds
Districts Confront Transgender Policies
Top Teacher’s Resignation Spurs Certification Debate
Special Ed. Law Wrought Complex Changes
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Blogs of the Week
In Colorado School Board Recall, Politics and Money Drive Ouster
‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Is Tough Call for Districts
Districts Struggle to Equip Schools With Fast, Affordable Internet
States Prepare for Shifting Role On Accountability
In Off-Year Elections, Ky., Miss. Drew Spotlight on K-12
Arizona Governor Signs Deal to Settle K-12 Funding Suit
Blogs of the Week
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Must Be Everywhere at Once
Put Our Mission Front and Center
Control What I Can
Prioritize Community-Building
How Do We Keep Good Principals?

Education Week - November 11, 2015