Betsy’s Blog – What America Can Learn from Switzerland’s Apprenticeships

A photo of a student in an apprenticeship program describing his work to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. They are standing next to a table with equipment, including robotic elements. Other students are working in the background.There’s a lot we as Americans can learn from other countries and how they set their students up for successful lives and careers. That’s why as part of my first trip abroad as Secretary I chose to visit Switzerland and witness their innovative approach to apprenticeships. There this sort of educational opportunity is not only the norm, it is highly coveted by students!

In Switzerland, the education sector partners closely with businesses to provide apprenticeships for students in a variety of professions. Two-thirds of current Swiss students pursue their education through one of the 250 types of government-recognized apprenticeships. Meanwhile, only 17 percent of U.S. students have worked in an internship or apprenticeship related to their career goals.

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What Students Can Do to Avoid Summer Melt

In our last post, we talked about the phenomenon of summer melt, where up to 1/3 of the students who graduate high school with plans to go to college never make it to a college campus.  We discussed what the student’s support team could do to help keep the student on track—but there’s also plenty the student can do to make sure their college plans don’t get derailed.

Open every piece of snail mail you get from the college, and read all of it.  You’re probably used to getting all kinds of mail from all kinds of colleges, but once you’ve decided on a college, anything and everything they send you needs to be read.  Just ask the student who opened the letter congratulating him for being admitted.  He didn’t read the next page, which told him he had a $42,000 scholarship.  Read it all.

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Summer Melt: Why One Third of College-Bound Students Don’t Make It to Campus in the Fall

Graduation is one of the most exciting times in the life of a school counselor, but as tempting as it is to look at graduation as the end of a school counselor’s work with a class, the exact opposite is true, especially for students heading to college.  An astonishing number of students who walk across the stage at graduation with plans to go to college never get there. Too many students overlook the letters and emails colleges send over the summer, asking students to complete financial aid forms, turn in important health documents, sign up for orientation and more.

If a student misses any one of these steps, the college will assume the student isn’t coming to college after all, and they’ll remove them from their attendance records.  Suddenly, due to a couple of missed emails, the student’s plans for the fall, and for their future, take a turn for the worst.

This phenomenon is known as summer melt, and it affects more students than you might believe.  According to surveys, up to one third of all students who leave high school with plans to attend college never arrive at any college campus that fall.  Summer melt tends to hit low-income students hardest, as well as students who are the first in their family to go to college.

Realizing the devastating effect summer melt can have on students, there are some key steps the student’s support team can take to make sure their senior is on campus come the fall.

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APAHM Filled with Amazing Celebrations and Thoughtful Discussions

A picture of Minority Business Development Agency Acting National Director Edith McCloud and White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Executive Director Holly Ham signing a memorandum of understanding. They are seated at a table in front of an American flag and banners for each of their groups. Ms. McCloud sits at Ms. Ham's right. To their right is a man standing and to their left are a woman and a man standing.As May came to an end so did this year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (APAHM) festivities. This month was full of amazing celebrations and thoughtful discussions. In DC alone there were many events hosted at federal and local government offices.

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative) kicked off APAHM activities at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on May 3rd. Hosted by the DOE Asian American Pacific Islander Network, the theme for this month’s focus was “Unite our Vision by Working Together”.

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She Will Never…

[Note: May is Better Hearing and Speech Month.]
 

Those were the words I heard over and over again when my oldest child was born 27 years ago. She will never read past a third grade reading level; she can only hope for a menial or labor-oriented job; this is the best her writing will ever be so maybe you should just accept it, maybe you are in denial. Sound familiar? I am sure that I am not alone as a mom. Many of us have heard these words from well-meaning and well-intended professionals who are only trying to help.

In July of 1990, I gave birth to a very healthy and beautiful baby girl, Laurin. I mean, she was adorable (seriously, picture the Gerber baby.  That was Laurin.). She seemed to be doing everything ahead of the developmental milestones: crawling, sitting up, etc. But then, on Christmas when Laurin was five months old, my sister came to me and said, “I just tripped and knocked over some pots and pans behind Laurin and she didn’t startle.”

It is safe to say that this single moment radically changed my world.

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National Blue Ribbon Schools—Breaking the Mold

Somerset Academy Davie in Davie, Florida– a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School

National Blue Ribbon Schools are special places, each unique to their communities, their students, their staff and their leaders, yet they are producing outstanding results for all their students regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or zip code.  They are closing the gaps in student achievement and, in most cases, demonstrating consistent excellence.

Each year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program visits a handful of schools to learn more about what makes these outstanding schools tick.  Video profiles offer glimpses of dynamic students, teachers and principals in action—a day in the life of a National Blue Ribbon School.

Featured below are two 2017 National Blue Ribbon awardees led by recipients of the 2017 Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership: Principal Ursula Annio and Principal Kristen Hughes.  These schools prove that there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to educating students.  Rather, by setting high expectations, offering a rich curriculum with high academic standards and providing the right student supports, students from all backgrounds can excel:

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Student Artists From Rose Tree Media School District Celebrated at the U.S. Department of Education

A picture of a group of dozens of students sitting and standing on a stage in the U.S. Department of Education auditorium.

Students from the Rose Tree Media School District celebrate their success at the U.S. Department of Education.

About 250 student artists, teachers, parents, and school administrators from the Rose Tree Media School District in Pennsylvania, along with U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff, recently celebrated the students’ “Interpretations of Portraiture” exhibit at ED headquarters in Washington, D.C.  It featured 85 pieces of artwork from all six of the district’s K–12 schools, each of them a unique portrait.

The exhibit and opening took five years of collaborative development led by Art Coordinator Kathleen Devine, its previous coordinator Meg Barney, and others in the district. This true community effort had extraordinary results.

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Seventh Cohort of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Announced

On May 16th, the U.S. Department of Education named the 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. Across the country, 46 schools, six districts, and six postsecondary institutions were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 25 states and the Department of Defense Education Activity. The 2018 cohort includes 40 public schools, including two magnet schools and two charter schools, as well as six nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2018 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.

Curious what it takes to be a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School? Here are a few of the actions that the 2018 honorees are taking:

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A Counselor’s Thank You to Teachers

We hear about all the great teachers in the counseling office.  The one who set the times tables to the tune of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” ensuring kids will remember them forever, even if it will take a while to get to eight times nine.  Mr. Jones, the history teacher who dressed up like Benjamin Franklin for an entire week and never once broke character.  The tenth grade English teacher who finally explained “I after e” in a way that made sense.  When you put that much thought into a lesson, it’s makes for memorable teaching.

Of course, that’s not the only way teachers become memorable.  The teacher who said just the right words at just the right time to the bully who had incredible art talent, making the student more comfortable with who they really were, and less of a bully.  The teacher who wore the cut-rate perfume a special needs student gave her at Christmas, every time that student had a spelling test—the same perfume she’d wear when attending that student’s graduation from medical school. The teacher who shows up at the Saturday soccer league and cheers loudly for all of her students on the sidelines, even though her students are spread throughout both teams, and it’s forty degrees out.

You can’t analyze a test score to determine what these teachable moments do to the learning and learning habits of students, but everyone seems to understand what they do to students’ learning, and students’ lives.  Like recess, these teachable moments inspire in ways we can’t quite measure, but we still know their worth is beyond measure.

These aren’t just discrete, feel-good stories.  Most of my counseling work for the last thirteen years has involved working with students in college placement.  In that time, every student—every single one—has had the chance to go to college; most have earned at least one merit scholarship, and for those who have been out for four years or more, nearly all of them have finished college on time.

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What is APAHM?

APAHM stands for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. It was first designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week by President Carter under Public Law 95-419 in 1978. In 1992, it was designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by President Bush under Public Law 102-450.

This is a time for many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to reflect on our history here in the U.S. and also celebrate our culture and heritage. It’s a month full of joyous activities as well as remembering some challenges in U.S. history such as the Chinese Exclusion Act. President Trump proclaimed May 2018 as APAHM by recognizing the tremendous contributions that AAPIs such as Kalpana Chawla and Susan Ahn Cuddy have made to our communities and nation.

The U.S. Federal government will take part in these festivities by hosting events in commemoration of APAHM so keep your eyes on the lookout for events across our nation’s capital and the country! The U.S. Department of Education will be hosting two events this month through the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI). WHIAAPI works to improve the quality of life for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the nation through increased access to and participation in federal programs. Learn more about our mission.

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Youth and Money Matters

When you were in middle or high school, did you learn money basics? Did you take a personal finance class? If so, you were among the less than half of Americans who did. Today, only 17 states require high school students to take a personal finance class before they graduate, and only about six test students on what they’ve learned.

As April was National Financial Capability Month, it was the perfect time for the Department to turn its attention to financial literacy for youth and what it could do to promote best practices and support a network of policymakers and practitioners across the country

The Department, in partnership with the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC), organized a special convening entitled “Financial Education in America’s Schools.” The goal was to engage the education community, local and state stakeholders, financial institutions and others in building strong, permanent partnerships that immerse youth in financial concepts.

In addition, the Department encouraged states to participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international survey administered to 15-year-olds that includes a component on financial literacy. PISA results for 2015 showed that students who had a bank account scored higher than their peers who didn’t have one.

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Soliciting Input for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers

[Note: The comment period has expired and comments have been closed.]

The United States Department of Education (Department) recognizes that family engagement in school is an important component of student success. As schools improve their efforts to engage families, we know that some schools, districts and states may need additional support and technical assistance. Through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, Congress has authorized funding for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers Program.  Title IV, Part E, Sections 4501 – 4506 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, is intended to provide financial support to organizations to provide technical assistance and training to State educational agencies and local educational agencies in the implementation and enhancement of systemic and effective family engagement policies, programs, and activities that lead to improvements in student development and academic achievement.  The Secretary is authorized to award grants to statewide organizations (or consortia of such organizations) to establish statewide family engagement centers that (1) carry out parent education, and family engagement in education; or (2) provide comprehensive training and technical assistance to State educational agencies and local educational agencies, schools, organizations that support family-school partnerships, and other organizations that carry out such programs.

Because the Department is very interested in your input, we are posting the legislation as part of this blog post.  We encourage all interested parties to submit opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments pertaining to the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program in the comments section below.  This document will be posted for public comments until 5:00 PM EDT on Friday May 11, 2018, at which time the response section will be closed and we will begin considering input received as we develop the requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions.  Though the Department will not respond to comments, the Department will read and consider all comments in finalizing the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program and competition design.  In early summer, we will publish a notice inviting applications in the Federal Register.

This is a moderated site.

That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. We intend to post all responsive submissions on a timely basis. We reserve the right not to post comments that are unrelated to this request, are inconsistent with ED’s Web site policies, are advertisements or endorsements, or are otherwise inappropriate. To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. For more information, please be sure to read the “comments policy” tab at the top of the Web page.

The fine print

Please understand that posts must be related to the new competition and program, and should be as specific as possible, and, as appropriate, supported by data and relevant research. Posts must be limited to 1,000 words. All opinions, ideas, suggestions and comments are considered informal input. ED will not respond to individual posts, and these posts may or may not be reflected in the policies and requirements of the program. If you include a link to additional information in your post, we urge you to ensure that the linked-to information is accessible to all individuals, including individuals with disabilities. Additionally, please do not include links to advertisements or endorsements; we will delete all such links before your comment is posted.

Again, thank you for your interest in this opportunity to support family engagement in student learning. We look forward to hearing from you.

Department of Education’s linking policy

Department of Education’s disclaimer of endorsement

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