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Legislative Update: ESEA, i3 Grants

Education Department Announces Highest-Rated i3 Applicants

The U.S. Department of Education this week announced the 23 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant applicants who will receive grants, provided that they obtain private sector matching funds by December 9, 2011. The purpose of this program is to provide competitive grants to applicants with a record of improving student achievement and attainment in order to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates.

“Investing in these vital innovations across the country has the potential to dramatically enhance learning and accelerate student performance and to do so cost-effectively” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This round of i3 grantees is poised to have real impact in areas of critical need including STEM education and rural communities, on projects ranging from early childhood interventions to school turnaround models that will prepare more students for college and career.”

Two applicants stood out to me as projects that could be aligned to CTE. First, the North Carolina New Schools Project’s Validating Early College Strategies will partner with 8 rural LEAs to implement early college high school strategies in 18 high schools serving high need students. Second, the goal of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative’s Career and College Readiness Transformations project is to improve student achievement and increased graduation rates, and increased access to and success in college through links between education and work.

You can find more details about all prospective grantees here.

Senate ESEA Hearing

On Tuesday, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of ESEA in response to Sen. Rand Paul’s (KY) objections during the committee markup last month. During opening statements, Ranking Member Sen. Mike Enzi (WY) said that states must take responsibility for accountability and make sure that students are college and career ready in a way that works for students.

Witnesses, who included school superintendents, administrators, teachers, special education advocates and other education policy representatives, discussed the pros and cons of the draft ESEA bill passed by the committee. They spoke about the burdens that the current law has placed on teachers and administrators, as well as the value of local control versus federal involvement in education. Witnesses were concerned about the draft bill’s elimination of performance targets.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

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