Education Week - November 11, 2015 - (Page 19)
$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
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.
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
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
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."
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.
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
The state-run district operates 29 schools serving close to 10,000
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.
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
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
"State chiefs will continue to lead
and remain firmly committed to
strong accountability aligned to the
principles," the report says.
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 | www.edweek.org | 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
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
How Do We Keep Good Principals?
Education Week - November 11, 2015