#RethinkSchool: Performance, Partnerships and the Perfect Fit: The Professional Performing Arts School

Thanks to the Professional Performing Arts School – located in the heart of Manhattan’s theater district – New York City is about to be home to a few more young stars.

The high school, also known as PPAS, serves nearly 500 students who dream of pursuing dance, drama, music, or musical theater. Students in grades six through twelve split their days between academic instruction — when they can enroll in Advanced Placement courses or earn college credit through partnerships with New York University, Fordham University, and others — and arts instruction.

As one of more than 400 high schools in New York City, PPAS offers students the opportunity to partner with some of the foremost programs in the city, like the Ailey School, the National Chorale, the Julliard School,  the American Ballet Theatre and Rosie’s Theater Kids.

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#RethinkSchool: Rural District Embraces the 3 E’s to Advance Student-centered Vision

Superintendent Kirk Koennecke smiles as he recounts how his rural school district’s connection with the Lean Six Sigma business process began, as a way to offer new learning options and provide marketable skills for students.  When courses in this well-known enterprise improvement approach were offered locally, no adults signed up.  But students did – and educators at Graham Local Schools saw an opening.

School leaders seized on Lean Six Sigma training as a way to help more students gain recognized tools for the world of work. Interest has grown, and this year, every junior is scheduled to receive a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt designation through their standard business electives. Seniors from Graham High School now have the option to graduate with Green Belt certification, in addition to their diploma.

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U.S. Department of Education Announces New Website to Assist State Education Policy Makers Access ESSA Resources

The U.S. Department of Education is pleased to announce the launch of the Comprehensive Center Network (CC Network) website. The CC Network website brings together a compilation of more than 700 resources developed by 23 Comprehensive Centers and over 200 projects currently underway in states across the country and makes searching by state or topic easier.

Through a single website, the CC Network portal, anyone interested in learning more of the broad range of education initiatives funded by the U. S. Department of Education, through the Department’s comprehensive centers, may examine the hundreds of efforts underway, or completed, through the nation’s network of centers.  Visit the site today at www.CompCenterNetwork.org and follow CCN on Twitter for important website updates.

After Hurricanes, USVI Residents Choose Hope

After three devastating hurricanes struck the Caribbean, the Department of Education undertook a series of actions to support the U.S. Virgin Islands through their recovery process. As part of that effort, ED staff committed to travelling to the Islands to provide resources, assistance, and expertise.

In November, as the ED team began their descent into the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the large-scale devastation left by Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria became alarmingly clear. Once lushly green, the landscape had turned muddy and brown. Roads were washed out entirely; buildings were roofless or pushed off their foundations; parts of the islands were left in total darkness. Businesses — the lifeblood of an economy so reliant on tourism — were shuttered.

The team, which included Iyauta Green (Risk Management Service), Joy Medley (Office of School Support and Rural Programs), and Mark Robinson (Risk Management Service), then began a five day trip to assess the damage that the storms had left behind.

They also spoke with administrators — including private school headmasters — teachers, students, and staff at the Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) administration, including Commissioner Sharon McCollum. From them, ED staff learned about the many needs facing the Islands and their students.

The storms hadn’t just created immediate, physical interruptions. They’d also halted progress toward a larger priority for the USVI: to diversify the workforce. Dr. McCollum had long wanted to keep the local economy competitive, and was concerned about students leaving the island — and taking their skills and talents with them. Instead, post-hurricanes, nearly 10 percent of students had left the USVI to continue, or finish, their education.

And students still on the Islands were required to adapt to a “new normal.” Many school buildings were either closed or operating on split schedules. At Ulla Muller Elementary School on St. Thomas, children ate FEMA packets instead of hot lunches.

Read more about the ED team’s visits to the U.S. Virgin Islands at Medium…

 

ED Publishes Secretary’s Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs

The U.S. Department of Education today published a new set of Secretary’s Supplemental Grant Priorities and Definitions for use in discretionary grant competitions. These priorities replaced the priorities published in 2010 and 2014. The Secretary published 11 priorities, each with one or multiple subparts, and a series of definitions that can be used—alone or in combination with one another—in discretionary grant competitions beginning in Fiscal Year 2018. These priorities align with the vision set forth by the Secretary in support of high-quality educational opportunities in support of lifelong learning.

The priorities are:

  • Priority 1–Empowering Families and Individuals to Choose a High-Quality Education that Meets Their Unique Needs.
  • Priority 2–Promoting Innovation and Efficiency, Streamlining Education with an Increased Focus on Improving Student Outcomes, and Providing Increased Value to Students and Taxpayers.
  • Priority 3–Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths to Obtaining Knowledge and Skills.
  • Priority 4–Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills that Prepare Students to be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens.
  • Priority 5–Meeting the Unique Needs of Students and Children with Disabilities and/or those with Unique Gifts and Talents.
  • Priority 6–Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science.
  • Priority 7–Promoting Literacy.
  • Priority 8–Promoting Effective Instruction in Classrooms and Schools.
  • Priority 9–Promoting Economic Opportunity.
  • Priority 10–Protecting Freedom of Speech and Encouraging Respectful Interactions in a Safe Educational Environment.
  • Priority 11–Ensuring that Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families Have Access to High-Quality Educational.

ED Releases Secretary’s Proposed Priorities for Competitive Grant Programs

Today, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released the Secretary’s proposed priorities for ED’s competitive grant programs and launched the 30-day public comment period. Once we consider the comments received and issue the Secretary’s final priorities, the Secretary may choose to use one or more of them in competitions for new grant awards this year and in future years. These priorities align with the vision set forth by the Secretary in support of high-quality educational opportunities for students of all ages.

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ED Provides Information Site, Activates Emergency Response Contact Center in Response to Hurricane Harvey

In response to the devastating impacts of Hurricane Harvey, the U.S. Department of Education has activated an emergency response contact center and created an information page on the ED website.

ED’s Hurricane Harvey Information webpage contains relevant information from the U.S. Department of Education as well as links to other Federal resources to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The website will be updated as new information is received so users are urged to continue checking the site for the latest.

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What the World Can Teach Us: International Lessons on Choice and Innovation in Education

Every student in the United States deserves a great education. And, every parent in this country – regardless of background, income or zip code – deserves the right to choose the school that is best for his or her child.

To achieve that goal, Secretary DeVos has called for “a transformation that will open up America’s education system.” If we’re going to meet the diverse needs of today’s learners, we need fresh thinking and innovative approaches.  There’s plenty we can learn from other countries, as they strive to prepare their students for 21st century realities.

Those lessons were the subject of a recent briefing at the Department – the first of a new series of learning sessions the Secretary has launched, focused on effective, student-centered education. The speaker was Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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Staff Selfies with Secretary DeVos

As new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been settling in to her new job, she has been meeting ED career staff and learning about their contributions to the agency.  Several quick-fingered staffers have snapped fun, informal photos and selfies with ED’s new leader, and Inside ED has collected several of their smiling photos here.

Carolyn Dempster of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer shows off her one-handed selfie skills with DeVos.

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Secretary DeVos Joins Ivanka Trump, Astronaut in Women’s History Month Celebration at Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

The Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures chronicles the inspiring story of three brilliant African American women mathematicians who, despite the barriers put in their way, played a pivotal role in one of our nation’s greatest achievements. These “human computers” performed by hand the complex mathematical calculations required to put a man into orbit around the Earth.

To commemorate Women’s History Month, the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum (NASM) hosted U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Ivanka Trump, Astronaut Kay Hire, women from NASA and more than 400 local students at an event celebrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that culminated in a viewing of the film.

The students, from a number of D.C., Maryland and Virginia schools, were treated to exhibits celebrating space exploration, motivational presentations and, of course, the movie.

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