High School Reform

Committees Advance Education Funding Bills

The Republicans on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue to move forward with their goal of passing all 12 appropriations bills before the September 30 deadline, but not without a fight from the White House and Committee Democrats who have serious concerns with the proposed funding levels in the FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) Appropriations bills. They believe that in order to provide robust funding for education, the sequester caps must be increased by striking a deal similar to the Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreement in 2013.

For the first time in six years, the House Appropriations Committee marked up the L-HHS-ED Appropriations bill, which was approved on a party-line vote of 30-21 on June 24. The bill would cut funding for the Department of Education by $2.8 billion while also eliminating 27 education programs, including the School Leadership Program, the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, School Improvement State Grants, Investing in Innovation (i3), and Preschool Development Grants among others.

The bill does provide small increases for Title I, IDEA, Head Start, Impact Aid, and Charter School Grants to name a few. The Committee for Education Funding (CEF) created a full summary of the House L-HHS-ED bill, which can be accessed here. (more…)

The Opt-Out Movement Gains Steam

Since the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, tens of thousands of students across the country have opted out of federally mandated assessments. The opt-out movement has become a way for parents and students to protest the implementation of the Common Core State Standards as well as the overabundance of testing in schools.

One of the key provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law requires school districts to maintain a 95 percent assessment participation rate. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently told states they risk losing federal funds if they fall below 95 percent compliance. This could have major implications for low-income and rural school districts that rely heavily on federal funding to hire staff, upgrade schools, and incorporate new programs. (more…)

New Legislation Aims to Redesign High Schools for the Next Generation

In an effort to help high schools that enroll traditionally underserved students in the development and implementation of comprehensive, evidence-based reform, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has introduced the Next Generation (NextGen) High Schools Act. NASSP strongly supports the bill, which mirrors many of the recommendations contained in the Breaking Ranks framework for school improvement.

“A high school diploma is the gateway to success and the ultimate goal of a K–12 education,” said Sen. Baldwin in a press release. “Unfortunately, the promise of a high-quality education is not realized by many of the nation’s youth, especially students of color and those from low-income families. By personalizing education, integrating coursework with career-based learning, and connecting their learning to real-world experiences, the NextGen High Schools Act will ensure our students are well situated to graduate college and career-ready.” (more…)

Tech Ed and Literacy Showcased at Senate Caucus Event

Once considered an add-on program, career and technical education (CTE) continues to raise its profile in mainstream education. And now, CTE is being recognized as a method for building core skills.

A Hill briefing last Wednesday focused on the crucial, yet rarely recognized, connection between literacy and CTE. Held by the Advocates for Literacy (of which NASSP is a leading member) and the Senate CTE Caucus, this event marks an important step in the CTE movement—underscoring that CTE success requires student literacy skills, which can be advanced in the context of high-quality CTE programs.

No one can address this topic with greater authority than 2014 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year Dr. Sheila Harrity, who presented her school’s success in programming that combines traditional high school academics with CTE curriculum. (more…)

NASSP Quarterly Advocacy Update – October 2013

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

While there seemed to be little optimism at the beginning of the year that the 113th Congress would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the summer months saw a LOT of activity on Capitol Hill. The law, currently known as No Child Left Behind, has been due for reauthorization since 2007.

Bipartisan negotiations on ESEA failed in the spring, so the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House education committees went their separate ways on developing education policy. At one point, four separate proposals were floating around Capitol Hill, but ultimately a Democratic proposal was approved by the Senate HELP Committee in June and a Republican proposal (H.R. 5) was passed by the full House in July. Debate in both chambers centered on the appropriate federal role in education and a conversation about how to provide more flexibility for states and local school districts. (more…)

High School Redesign Latest Buzz Word in Washington

In a roundtable event at Aviation High School in New York City last June, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan highlighted key aspects of a new High School Redesign initiative that President Obama first mentioned in his State of the Union address and then included in his FY2014 budget proposal released last April.

According to Duncan, the purpose of the proposed $300 million discretionary grant program would be to “promote a rethinking of the high school learning experience, and challenge schools to incorporate personalized learning and career and college exploration and ensure that all students graduate with college-level coursework or college credit, as well as with career-related experiences or competencies.” In addition to urging secondary school leaders and teachers to strategically use learning time in more meaningful ways, the new initiative calls for evidence-based professional development to deepen educators’ skills, support collaboration and expand a comprehensive system of student support. Lastly, Duncan noted changes to the current high school structure and experience will require collaboration and contributions from a number of partners from both the public and private sectors, including institutions of higher education, non-profits, business and industry. (more…)