November 2019 Issue

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November 2019 Issue

“Every American family needs to open the Nation’s Report Card this year and think about what it means for their child and for our country’s future. The results are, frankly, devastating. This country is in a student achievement crisis, and over the past decade it has continued to worsen, especially for our most vulnerable students. …We cannot abide these poor results any longer. We can neither excuse them away nor simply throw more money at the problem. This administration has a transformational plan to help America’s forgotten students escape failing schools. By expanding education freedom, students can break out of the one-size-fits-all system and learn in the ways that will unlock their full potential.”

— U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, in a statement regarding the release of the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress results.

2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress' Scores Released


On Oct. 30, the National Assessment Governing Board hosted NAEP Day to release the results of the Nation’s Report Card, at which the secretary offered remarks (video). 

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, provides results for the nation, states, and 27 urban school districts for assessments in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics. 

Average reading scores for the nation in 2019 were lower for students in both fourth and eighth grade compared to 2017. Average mathematics scores for the nation in 2019 were one point higher for students in fourth grade and one point lower for students in eighth grade compared to 2017. 

Reading scores were lower for white and black students at grade four and for all racial/ethnic groups, except Asian/Pacific Islanders, at grade eight in 2019 compared to 2017. On the other hand, Hispanic students had a higher average math score at grade four in 2019 compared to 2017.

New College Scorecard Released

On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Education (Department)  released an updated College Scorecard. The new College Scorecard contains program-level debt and earnings data, more inclusive graduation rates, and holds all schools accountable to the same standards. Thanks to the groundbreaking redesign of the College Scorecard, students can now find customized, accessible, and relevant data on potential debt and earnings based on fields of study (including for two-year programs, four-year degrees, certificate programs, and some graduate programs), graduation rates, and even apprenticeships. 

STEM Investments

On Nov. 8, National STEM Day, the Department announced it had invested $540 million in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, including computer science, through discretionary and research grants in Fiscal Year 2019, in accordance with the president’s directive to foster expanded opportunities in these in-demand career fields. These funds deliver on the administration’s promise to support STEM education, as well as on the overall goals of the five-year federal STEM education strategic plan.  

The funds — about $200 million for new awards and almost $345 million for continuation awards — will be used to prepare the STEM teacher corps, provide graduate student fellowships in areas of national need, increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education, and support state initiatives to expand and improve the transition of high school career and technical education students to postsecondary education and employment through apprenticeships, among other areas.

Moving Forward: Increasing Hispanic Teachers in the Classroom


On Oct. 21, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Division of the Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education hosted the FY 2019 Teacher Preparation Programs Summit. Its theme was "Moving Forward: Increasing Hispanic Teachers in the Classroom.” The summit convened nearly 40 Hispanic-Serving Institutions that received Title V funding to support teacher preparation programs for Hispanic students. Participants shared effective practices and heard from experts on the importance of increasing the Hispanic teacher pipeline. 

Final Higher Education Accreditation Regulations

Last month, the Department announced publication of final accreditation and state authorization distance education regulations designed to expand education options for students, holistically lower the cost of post-high school education, and ensure that any occupationally focused education meets current workforce needs. These regulations also align accountability requirements with an institution’s mission, rather than paperwork and process, and seek to make clear that all institutional accreditors are held to the same standards by the agency. As a result, students should not face barriers to career entry and mobility, or to continuing education, based solely on which accreditor oversees the school they attended.

Civic Literacy Agreement

The National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with the Department, awarded a $650,000 cooperative agreement to iCivics to lead a coalition of experts in assessing the state of, and best practices in, the teaching of American history, civics, and government in K–12 education. “Educating for American Democracy” will convene over 100 leading academics and practitioners at Arizona State University and Louisiana State University to evaluate history and civics curricula nationwide. Informed by these discussions. The coalition will issue a “roadmap for excellence” for teachers, schools, and district and state policymakers outlining priority content areas and recommending instructional strategies for integrating the teaching of history and civics at every grade level.

The roadmap and an accompanying report on the convenings will be released prior to a September 2020 national forum in Washington, D.C., co-hosted by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History and the National Archives and Records Administration Foundation.

Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership

Secretary DeVos announced 10 principals from 2019 National Blue Ribbon Schools as this year’s recipients of the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership. Named for the second U.S. Secretary of Education, these awards honor principals for their outstanding work and the role they play in guiding their students and schools to excellence, often under challenging circumstances.

National Apprenticeship Week

The fifth annual National Apprenticeship Week was held Nov.11–17. To commemorate, the White House issued a proclamation, the Department of Labor complied events and proclamations, and the Department of Education produced videos recognizing National Apprenticeship Week featuring Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump and apprenticeship facts. More than 1,000 events across the country celebrated the work of apprentices. Apprenticeships are industry-driven, high-quality career pathways in which employers can develop their future workforce and individuals can obtain paid work experience, instruction, and credentials.

Cybersecurity Careers Resources

Nov.11–16 was National Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week. This week is held to promote, inspire, educate, and engage citizens to pursue careers in cybersecurity. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to helping educate the nation’s students in cybersecurity to develop a more resilient and capable cyber nation. To further cybersecurity education, DHS provides resources as follows: 

American Education Week

President Trump commemorated American Education Week through a presidential proclamation.

American Education Week (November 17–23) celebrates schools and honors parents, teachers, guardians, and communities that support a high‑quality education that meets the needs of all students.

Seeking Applicants for the 2020–21 School Ambassador Fellowship


The Department is seeking applicants for the School Ambassador Fellowship 2020–21 cohort. The School Ambassador Fellowship is a year-long professional engagement experience hosted by the Department, which is designed to improve outcomes for students by leveraging the expertise of school-based practitioners in the creation, dissemination, and evaluation of national education policy. 

The deadline to apply for the 2020–21 School Ambassador Fellowship is Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

School Violence Analysis

The U.S. Secret Service released an analysis of targeted school violence in the U.S.: Protecting America’s Schools. This report identifies 41 incidents of attacks against K–12 schools from 2008 to 2017. 

The report expands beyond a previous Secret Service study, the Safe Schools Initiative, and discusses relevant topics to threat assessment, including motives, targeting, tactics, and harm caused; concerning communication made prior to the attacks; the diversity of stressors and home-life factors that may have played a role; school histories of discipline and performance; concerning behaviors exhibited previously; who may have observed them and actions that others may or may not have been taken; and histories of behavioral or emotional issues and impact on actions.

The Big Read

The National Endowment for the Arts’ The Big Read supports Americans reading and discussing a single book within their communities. Local governments, libraries, school districts, colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply for one of an estimated 75 grants to be awarded for programming occurring between September 2020 and June 2021. The application deadline is Jan. 29, 2020.

Need some help? Contact Arts Midwest to schedule a consultation with staff and visit the application advice page for tips and best practices for applications.

National Science Foundation Grants Awarded

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program (HSI Program) awarded 25 grants to HSIs in Fiscal Year 2019 totaling approximately $40 million.

The NSF’s HSI Program seeks to enhance the quality of undergraduate STEM education at HSIs and to increase retention and graduation rates of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in STEM at HSIs. In addition, the HSI Program seeks to build capacity in undergraduate STEM education at HSIs that typically do not receive high levels of NSF grant funding.

Student Voices

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics is sharing students' experiences in their first year of college. Each week, a new story will be posted.

2019–20 Virtual Interns

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics welcomes its two virtual interns for the 2019–20 school year.

  • Carlos Gamez, University of South Florida
  • Allie Salazar Gonzalez, Yale University