Superintendent Update: May 2012

Superintendent Update
Michael Yudin

Message from Michael Yudin

Thank you for joining the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on our most recent Superintendent Call on May 8. I want to recognize and thank the two district teams who shared with us some of their work: Estella Garza at the the San Antonio Independent School District who discussed the successes and challenges of serving homeless students through the McKinney Vento Act, and the team at Davenport Community Schools in Iowa who shared  information on the school climate work being done at Davenport Central High School. If you missed the Superintendent Call and would like a copy of their presentations, please email Tina Chong at

We also shared during the call the exciting news that we are welcoming a new Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education on board at the end of this month. Deb Delisle joins the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) most recently from her role as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Ohio Department of Education. We are looking forward to working with Deb as she leads OESE's efforts to make sure all kids are on track to graduate college- and career-ready, and we’ll make sure to schedule some time for her to spend with the Superintendent community when she comes on board.

Finally, the Secretary joined us for the latter portion of the call to give a brief update on the Race to the Top (RTTT) competition for districts. While the details of the RTTT district competition were not public at the time of our call, the Department recently released proposed criteria for the competition, and more information is included in this update.

Thanks so much for all that you do as committed education leaders and reformers. If you have suggestions for topics we should cover in future Superintendent Calls, please let me know by emailing me at with the subject line "Superintendent Update." We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Race to the Top - District Level Competition

On May 22, ED announced proposed criteria for the 2012 Race to the Top program - a nearly $400 million competition that invites school districts to create plans for individualized classroom instruction aimed at closing achievement gaps and preparing each student for college and career. The proposed 2012 program criteria invites applications from districts or groups of districts serving at least 2,500 students, with 40 percent or more qualifying for free or reduced price lunch. Districts will choose to apply for funding to support learning strategies that personalize education in all or a set of schools, within specific grade levels, or select subjects. To read or comment on the Race to the Top district-level proposal, visit Public Comment ends June 8. The Department plans to release the application in July with an October submission deadline. Awards will be announced no later than Dec. 31, 2012.


ED Hosts Stakeholders Forum on School Turnarounds

On April 26, ED hosted a Stakeholders Forum to highlight the progress of school turnarounds under the School Improvement Grants (SIG). Leaders from OESE and the Office of School Turnaround were joined by several panelists from the field, including Superintendent Kelvin Adams and Associate Superintendent Michael Haggen of the St. Louis Public Schools, and Principal Roy Sandoval of Alchesay High School in the Whiteriver Unified District in Arizona. A transcript and video of the forum is posted at

Other ED News

School Restraint and Seclusion

Last week, ED issued a publication that outlines principles for educators, parents, and stakeholders to consider when developing or refining policies and procedures to support positive behavioral interventions and avoid the use of restraint and seclusion.  The goal of this resource document is to help ensure that schools are safe and healthy environments where all students can learn, develop, and participate in instructional programs that promote high levels of academic achievement.  Learn more:

Update on New Assessments

Reports released earlier this month by ED outline Year 1 activity by the two consortia -- the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) -- designing new assessments aligned with college- and career-ready standards.  The state-led effort moves into Year 2 with an ambitious agenda, including releasing sample questions and piloting the new assessments in spring 2013.  Once the new assessment systems are completed, participating states will use them in place of existing statewide tests.  The tests will also be available for non-participating states to use.  Forty-five states and the District of Columbia are members of PARCC or Smarter Balanced.  The two consortia have received $350 million in federal Race to the Top funds.  Learn more:

Grant Information

Charter Schools Program - Non-State Educational Agencies

The Charter Schools Program's Non-State Educational Agency Competition provides grants directly to charter schools so they can plan, design, and complete the initial implementation of their school.
Deadline to Apply: June 6, 2012
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: Individual charter schools in states that chose not to participate in the Charter Schools Program State Education Agency (SEA) competition, or in states whose applications for SEA funds were denied.

Impact Aid Discretionary Construction Program

The Impact Aid Discretionary Construction Grant Program authorizes competitive grants for emergency repairs and modernization of school facilities to certain eligible local educational agencies (LEAs) that receive Impact Aid. 
Deadline to Apply: July 13, 2012
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: See eligibility details at

Promise Neighborhoods

The purpose of Promise Neighborhoods is to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth in our most distressed communities.
Deadline to Apply: July 27, 2012
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: Nonprofit organizations, which may include faith-based nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes

School-Based Health Center Capital Program

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced the availability of new funding for the construction and renovation of school-based health centers. These new investments, totaling up to $75 million, are part of the School-Based Health Center Capital (SBHCC) Program, which was created by the Affordable Care Act, the health care law of 2010.Learn more: