Request for Information To Gather Technical Expertise Pertaining to the Identification and Placement of Native American Students

On March 4, 2013, the Title III Group in the Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs office in OESE published a request for information in the Federal Register to gather information pertaining to the identification and placement of Native American students who are English learners in language instruction educational programs. The U.S. Department of Education’s goal in making this request is to help State educational agencies, local educational agencies, schools, tribes, and other interested entities identify, share, and implement practices for accurately identifying Native American students who are English learners.

You may access this document at the following link:

Written submissions in response to this RFI must be received by the Department on or before 5:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on May 3, 2013.

Summer 2011 Issue of the School Turnaround Newsletter

The Summer 2011 issue of the School Turnaround Newsletter is now available! The newsletter is a resource for states, districts, and schools who are undergoing school turnaround under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. This issue highlights NEA’s work with SIG schools under the Priority Schools Campaign, provides an example of a successful state monitoring system, and features an interview with a principal on implementing extended learning time. Past issues of the newsletter can be found here.

The Power of Mentors

I’m headed to Dallas in a few days to give a keynote speech at the national conference of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS). I’m excited to be able to meet the wonderful staff, mentors, and mentees who are part of this organization, and to help them reaffirm their commitment to serving our neediest youth, particularly those from low-income and minority backgrounds. Studies have shown that mentors have a positive effect on all aspects of their mentees’ lives — in school, at home, and with friends. Organizations like BBBS are also critical partners for our schools and districts, to provide the necessary support our children need for academic and personal success.

This event also has a special meaning for me, because I was invited to speak by one of my own mentors, Dr. Raymund Paredes, who serves as the chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Nationwide Hispanic Advisory Council, and is currently the commissioner of higher education for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. I first met Dr. Paredes as a college student at UCLA, and he’s become one of my most trusted mentors and advisors. I’m honored to be able to share my own experiences with wonderful mentors like Dr. Paredes, and to provide encouragement to current mentors who are changing lives, one on one.

Next Week: Education Stakeholders Forum on TA and Comprehensive Centers

I’ll be hosting an Education Stakeholders Forum to be held Wednesday, May 11th, 2011, at 1:00 p.m., at the Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. We’ll be soliciting input and feedback on how we can improve the delivery of technical assistance through our partnership with Regional Comprehensive Center.

For more information, please visit this page: Information about Education Stakeholder Forum meetings and registering

Thanking Mrs. Silverman

Cross posted from the blog.

I still remember how nervous I was during my first day of school, as a new kindergartener at Fremont Elementary. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, I only spoke Spanish at home. So, I was worried about how I would fare in school. Would I understand what my teacher was saying to me? How would I make friends? What if I didn’t like school?Mrs.Silverman

Thanks to Mrs. Silverman, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. She welcomed me into her classroom and helped me fit in, even going so far as to set up a play date for me and a classmate, Brenda, who would go onto be my best friend. Gradually, she taught me my second language, while never devaluing or trying to erase my first. Most importantly, she showed me how magical learning could be, and set me on a path to academic success.

It is in large part because of Mrs. Silverman that I became a teacher. To this day, I have a photo of her with some of my classmates and me that appeared in a district newsletter. And whenever I have the opportunity to speak about the power of education, my story always seems to come back to Mrs. Silverman. Every so often, I do a search online for her, to see if I can find her, and tell her in person how much she’s done for me.  I haven’t found her, but I’ll continue to share broadly my memories of Mrs. Silverman. Maybe that’s my way of thanking her over and over again for all that she did for me – though I sure would like the chance to tell her in person.

SIG Regional Conferences – Save the Date!

I hope many of you received a Save the Date notice a few weeks back for our regional capacity building conferences on successfully implementing School Improvement Grants. OESE is partnering with its Comprehensive Centers to connect educators, administrators, and practitioners together to learn from one another and begin creating peer networks and communities of practice. We have four conferences planned for April and May, each in a different location and catering to different audiences. Some basic information on the conferences are below, but watch more detailed information on registration coming soon!

Date/Location  Region Conference Theme
April 5-6, 2011
Los Angeles, CA 
Western (CA, UT, CO, NV, OR, WA, HI, AZ, NM)
California CC, West/Southwest CC, Northwest CC, Pacific CC
Contact: Meg Livingston Asensio,
The Role of State, District, and School Leadership in Turning Around Low Performing Schools 
April 13-14, 2011
Washington, DC 
Eastern (DC, DE, MD, PA, NJ, VA, WV, SC, TN, GA, LA, AL, MS, FL, PR, USVI, ME, NH, MA, RI, NY, KY, NC, VT, CT)
New England CC, New York CC, Mid-Atlantic CC, Appalachia CC, Florida and Islands CC, Southeast CC
Contacts: Robin Ahigian, and Jan Phlegar,
The Role of State, District, and School Leadership in Turning Around Low Performing Schools 
May 18-19, 2011
Chicago, IL 
Midwest (MI, IL, IN, IA, WI, OH, MN, plus interested others)
Great Lakes West CC, Great Lakes East CC, NHSC
Contact: Barbara Youngren, 
High School Turnaround

May 24-25, 2011
Denver, CO 
Central (NE, ND, SD, KS, MO, AR, OK, AK, TX, MT, ID, WY, plus BIE and interested others)
North Central CC, Mid-Continent CC, Texas CC, Alaska CC (plus BIE and interested others)
Contact: Anne Tweed, 
Rural School Turnaround and Serving Native American Students

High-Performing Schools

I’ve made clear in this blog and in my other communications that we are focused and committed to helping states and districts improve their persistently lowest-performing schools.  Perhaps because of this, we’ve received quite a few questions about what this Administration is doing for those high-performing schools in the country.

Our Blueprint for Reform, or our proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), actually has quite a few things to say about supporting and rewarding high-performing schools, in addition to our investment in low-performing ones.

Our proposal calls for every state to ensure that its statewide system of accountability rewards schools and districts for progress and success, requires rigorous interventions in the lowest-performing schools and districts, and allows local flexibility to determine the appropriate improvement and support strategies for most schools. All students will be included in this accountability system that builds on college- and career-ready standards.

Our plan also calls for us to celebrate and reward states, districts, and schools that do the most to improve outcomes for their students and to close achievement gaps, as well as those who are on the path to have all students graduating or on track to graduate ready for college and a career by 2020. All schools will be aiming to do their part to help us reach that ambitious goal, and for most schools, leaders at the state, district, and school level will enjoy broad flexibility to determine how to get there. You can visit for more information about our proposal for reauthorization.

Highlighting Technical Assistance at the National Title I Conference

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of leading a technical assistance (TA) session at the National Title I Conference in Tampa, Florida. In addition to sharing information on OESE’s TA plan and the changes we are making at the Department to better support states and districts, we also featured a “Response Panel” of three state directors at the session. The panel provided some immediate feedback on my TA presentation, offered suggestions for OESE on further improving TA, and discussed how, as state directors, they are rethinking TA themselves to support their local districts and staff.

One of the concrete tools I shared with all the participants of the session was the rubric we created to honestly assess ourselves on the quality and effectiveness of our TA. It was so great to hear reactions from panelists on the rubric – several said they wanted to develop something similar in their own states! That signals to me that we are on the right track in shifting our mindset within OESE to emphasize support for those on the ground, and I know we have big plans ahead as we continue to implement our TA plan.

In addition to the TA session, I also gave brief remarks at the Opening Session of the conference, which a local radio station covered here. They even posted a YouTube clip of the end of my speech, which you can watch below:

Call for Public Input – Comprehensive Literacy Development Meeting

I’m pleased to announce a public input meeting to be held on the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy State Grant Program next Friday, November 19, here at the U.S. Department of Education.

Next year, the Secretary plans to announce a competition for State projects to support comprehensive literacy development and to advance literacy skills, including pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing, for students from birth through grade 12, English learners and students with disabilities. So, we want to use this meeting to get input from experts, advocates, States, and other stakeholders on the application notice for this competition.

I want to encourage all of you who are interested to attend this meeting if you can — we really value feedback at the Department, and your input will be incredibly important as we develop this grant program. You’ll find more details on registration and submitting input below, and I look forward to a rich and productive meeting.

Event Details

What: Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy State Grant Program Public Input Meeting

When: Friday, November 19, 2010, 2 sessions to be held from 9:00am – 12:00pm and 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Where: U.S. Department of Education
Potomac Center Plaza (PCP) Auditorium
550 12th Street, SW

Registration: If you are interested in attending the meeting and/or providing input at the meeting, you must register by sending an e-mail to: with your name, organization, and the session you are interested in attending (morning or afternoon) by Tuesday, November 16, 2010.

Submitting Written Input: Written input will be accepted at the meeting site, via e-mail, or mail. For e-mail submissions, e-mail:, on or before 5:00pm (EST), Friday, November 19, 2010. You must include “Striving Readers Public Input” in the subject line of your e-mail.

All input, including expert presentations and discussions, public input, and written submissions, should focus primarily on responding to questions posted at

To ensure that your input is fully considered in the development of the notice inviting applications, we urge you to identify clearly the specific question, purpose, or characteristic that you are addressing, and to arrange your input in the order of the questions as they are listed

For further information about the meeting, see or contact Deborah Spitz at or (202) 260-3793.