OVAE Connection - April 11, 2013, Issue 145

OVAE Connection

                                                                                  April 11, 2013 - Issue 145

LEP Individuals Are Ensured Access to ED Services, Programs, and Activities

Executive Order (EO) 13166 (Improving Access to Services for Persons With Limited English Proficiency), issued in August 2000, requires federal agencies to ensure access to persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) to federally conducted services, programs, and activities. To comply with the EO, ED developed general LEP Plans in 2005 and 2008. On Feb. 17, 2011, the U. S. Attorney General issued a memorandum calling for each federal agency to renew its commitments to fully implementing the EO by creating a language access working group with that responsibility. He also called for new agency-wide LEP plans to address how all components of each agency would ensure access to LEP persons, given their respective missions.  

ED created an internal LEP working group (LEPWG) that included a representative from each principal office (PO), including OVAE. The LEPWG has developed an ED-wide LEP Plan and component plans. This group promotes:

  • Internal coordination to ensure all components are informed of legal requirements and responsibilities;
  • Information-sharing and training about new resources and protocols that are critical elements of the plan implementation process;
  • Continuous feedback from all ED components regarding what works and what needs change; and
  • Well-informed components from the very beginning.

The ED-wide and component plans were developed using a template and assistance from the Department’s Office for Civil Rights. On Sept. 6, 2012, the Department submitted its renewed and reinvigorated U.S. Department of Education Policy Directive to Ensure Meaningful Access to Federally Conducted Services, Programs and Activities for Individuals With Limited English Proficiency Department Directive OCR/OCO: 1-102, to the U.S. Department of Justice along with 10 sample component plans. OVAE’s plan is available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/news/index.html under Reports and Resources, then Resources.

The Department’s and OVAE’s plans share the following main features:

  • It is the responsibility of the Department to take reasonable steps to ensure that communications between it and LEP individuals are not impaired as a result of the limited English proficiency of these individuals because failure to provide timely language assistance services may result in a denial of meaningful access to Department services, programs, or activities that are accessible to non-LEP individuals.
  • The plans address how to identify and serve LEP persons. They provide guidance on various measures that may be used to ensure meaningful access to its programs and activities including

                    o   Oral interpretation; 

                    o   Written translation of “vital documents” and pre-translated notices in the six most prominent languages; 

                    o   Access in person, on the phone, or in writing; and 

                    o   The proper mix of these services in order to ensure “meaningful access.”

  • The plans identify five critical ED resources for use by POs to ensure efficiency, consistency, ease, quality and accountability across ED as we provide meaningful access:
  1. An agency-wide telephonic interpretation contract with identified funding streams;
  2. Language Assistance Volunteers as a resource for informal translation and interpretation services to benefit the employees around ED who may need informal language assistance;
  3. A process for procuring formal interpretation and translation services;
  4. A central internal intranet Web page, “Resources for Working With LEP Constituents,” where ED employees can find the resources needed to provide language access to LEP customers; and
  5. A central “Language Assistance Mail Box” (e-mail address) administered by the Office of Communications and Outreach’s information resources staff which receives inquiries from LEP individuals.

Both ED and OVAE view this service as ongoing and will appreciate feedback from users about ways to improve their efforts.   

The Rise of Women's Academic Achievement

In their recent book, The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What It Means for American Schools, sociologists Thomas A. DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann have two primary purposes: (1) “describing the changes in the relative educational attainment of females and males in the United States over the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries” and considering “explanations for the reversal of the gender gap during these years” and (2) examining the “gender differences in educational performance and attainment over the life course.” As demonstrated by the facts they adduce and their analyses, DiPrete and Buchmann show that, despite lingering gender inequalities in American society, women have made significant gains and often surpass men in their levels of academic achievement. Currently, women achieve higher levels of attainment at all levels of education. 

With this as background, however, the authors do not want their focus to be on the comparative achievements of males and females. “We … argue for policies that raise college graduation rates for those students in the middle third [in academic attainment through high school] who realistically could complete college but currently do not. Any such policies should be responsive to the fact that this population is predominantly male.” This perspective puts the gender question and the explanations for gender differences in context. “The book is less concerned with the broader issue of gender identity and more focused on the question of why and how gender is linked to educational attainment.” “Our fundamental orientation,” they say, “is pro-education. We care about the gender gap and want to reduce it, not because inequality per se is bad (though we have a pro-equality bias), and certainly not because girls have unfairly gained an advantage from a ‘war on boys,’ but because greater insight into the reasons for the male shortfall can help develop policies that improve educational outcomes for both girls and boys.” 

The data and analyses developed in this book invite serious inquiry into the failure of a majority of students to reach their academic potentials.

Help for Disconnected Youths

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently announced resources concerning vulnerable youths who are disconnected from employment, education, or home at FindYouthInfo.gov. The materials were prepared by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs and the Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth (IFDY). They include: 

  • Shared goal statement describing the mission of the Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth. 
  • Evidence-Based Policy Initiatives for Youths, an overview of federal tiered evidence initiatives.  
  • Common evidence framework slides, an outline of a framework for evidence standards that could be used across federal agencies. 
  • Common standards slides describing a framework developed by ED and the National Science Foundation for research development proposals. 
  • Summary of themes from the Request for Information related to disconnected youths based on input about how states and localities could use the Performance Partnership Pilot authority proposed in the President’s 2013 Budget, as well as existing best practices for serving disconnected youths.
  • Pathways for Youth: Draft Strategic Plan for Federal Collaboration, developed by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs in response to the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act as a first step in addressing common goals for youths; elevating strong models of youth programs, policies, and other supports; and articulating areas for future collaborative work with and for youths.

The Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth was established in 2012 to improve outcomes for this population through coordination of interagency efforts and cross-sector partnerships with the private sector. Its member agencies are the Office of Management and Budget, Domestic Policy Council, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Corporation for National and Community Service, and the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, and Transportation. It is co-chaired by OMB and ED.

Important Notice: Affordable Care Act information on getting ready for the upcoming implementation of Health Insurance Exchanges and the choices involved. Please share this information with your constituencies

Remeber to check out the OVAE blog for up-to-date information about events, OVAE presentations, highlights from visits to the field, and more.