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Posts Tagged ‘small learning communities’

Legislative Update: Alternative Certification, Career Academies

Friday, July 27th, 2012

House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Alternative Certification

The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing this week to examine alternative certification of teachers. The topic is a timely one given its connection to defining highly qualified teachers under the No Child Left Behind Act. In 2010, Congress passed legislation that allowed students enrolled in alternative certification programs to be considered “highly qualified teachers.” The House Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill seeks to extend this definition for two more years.

There was general support for alternative routes to certification on both sides of the aisle during the hearing. Chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA) had this to say:

Alternative certification routes help address teacher shortages in particular geographic areas and subject matter, as well as strengthen the overall quality of the teaching profession. While Republicans know there is no one-size-fits-all federal solution to help put more effective teachers in the classroom, supporting the availability and acceptance of alternative certification programs is one way the public and private sectors can join together to ensure more students have access to a quality education from an extraordinary educator.

Cynthia Brown, Vice President for Education Policy at the Center for American Progress, agreed that alternative certification programs hold a lot of promise, but that there need to be policies in place to ensure that they are “high quality, innovative, and effective,” which also holds true for traditional teacher preparation programs. She suggested that Congress focus on teacher effectiveness rather than alternative routes to certification.

More Details on Career Academies Proposal

Last week Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke at the National Academy Foundation’s NEXT Conference about the President’s FY13 budget proposal to invest $1 billion in career academies. Funding at this level could increase the number of career academies by 3,000 and serve an additional 500,000 students.

According to Duncan, $200 million in grants to states would be available in FY13, and $400 million would be available in both FY14 and FY15. Grants to would total $4 million each to states, and would be given over a three year period. States would distribute those funds competitively to locals.

As part of the grant program, the Department of Education is proposing a definition of “career academy” that each state must use for the in-state competition:

  1. A career academy is a secondary school program as organized as a small learning com­munity or school within a school to provide the support of a personalized learning environment.
  2. The academy must begin in ninth grade and combine credit-bearing academic and techni­cal curriculum.
  3. The academy must organize curriculum around a career theme like those proposed by NAF — hospitality and tourism, IT, health, sci­ence, and engineering — and be aligned with states’ college- and career-ready standards.
  4. The academy must provide work-based learning and career exploration activities through partnerships with local employers.
  5. The academy must articulate entrance re­quirements of postsecondary education programs to ensure students graduate from high school ready to pursue a higher education degree or credential.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Smaller Learning Communities Eliminated in FY11 Budget

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

As more information comes out about the drastic cuts to education programs in Congress’ FY11 continuing resolution, we have learned that funding for the Smaller Learning Communities program has been eliminated. This program, authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, had previously allocated $88 million in grants to LEAs to improve student academic achievement through structures within a large high school that included career academies, themed schools-within-a- school, and “houses” in which small groups of students remain together throughout high school.

The impetus for Smaller Learning Communities stemmed from research that showed that students learn better and retain more when they learn things in context and when they understand the “why” behind what they are learning. CTE has played an integral role in many of these schools that prepare students to succeed in postsecondary education and careers. Once again, this cut in funding will negatively impact CTE students and programs throughout the country.

By Nancy in Legislation
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Applications for Smaller Learning Communities Grants Available

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

The Department of Education is now accepting applications for the Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) grant program. According to the Federal Register notice inviting applications, the SLC program awards discretionary grants to LEAs to support the restructuring of public high schools with enrollments of 1,000 or more students into smaller units for the purpose of improving academic achievement in these schools. These smaller units include freshman academies, multi-grade academies organized around career interests or other themes, ‘‘houses’’ in which small groups of students remain together throughout high school, and autonomous schools-within-a-school. These structural changes are typically complemented by other personalization strategies, such as student advisories, family advocate systems, and mentoring programs. Each application must address two absolute priorities: preparing all students to succeed in postsecondary education and career; and common planning time for teachers.

Notice of Intent to Apply: July 15, 2010

Application Submission Deadline: August 6, 2010

The Department is estimating that there is $32 million available to award grants to up to 14 states. Each grant will be for a period of five years. For more information please see the Department of Education’s Web site.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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