ED Review (05/14/21)

ED Review logoHaving trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Bookmark and Share

May 14, 2021


NAEP School Survey 

At various venues and using multiple media, Secretary Cardona and other Administration leaders continue to emphasize the urgent need to safely reopen schools. 

First, on April 30, Secretary Cardona concluded his “Help is Here” School Reopening Tour with a visit to Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in Washington, D.C., where he delivered remarks on what he saw throughout the tour and the efforts to reopen the majority of K-8 schools within President Biden’s first 100 days (photos, video, and Twitter thread). 

Second, on May 6, the Secretary issued a statement on the March results of the 2021 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) School Survey.  The data affirms achieving the President’s reopening goal, with 54% of K-8 schools open for full-time in-person learning and 88% open for either full-time in-person or hybrid instruction.  The data also shows positive trendlines of increasing numbers of Black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian students enrolled in in-person learning since January.  Yet, a much lower percentage of these subgroups are enrolled in full-time in-person learning compared to their white peers.  And, even when offered in-person options, many are choosing to remain fully remote.  “At the national and local level, we must act with urgency and bring every resource to bear to get more schools reopened…this spring and address the inequities that continue to persist in our classrooms and communities,” the Secretary asserted (Twitter thread). 

Third, the Secretary penned an op-ed that ran on CNN.com on May 12.  “These next few weeks will prove critical for students of all ages, but particularly those disproportionately affected by the pandemic and at risk of falling further behind,” he explained.  “Our educators and leaders have worked tirelessly to get us where we are today.  Collectively, we must recommit to our mission of serving all students.  That means not just opening back up for in-person instruction, but building a world class education system that is better than it was before March 2020.  We must dedicate ourselves in the coming days to get all students safely back to in-person instruction: equitably and without exception.” 

Meanwhile, the Secretary shared his message with journalists during the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar and was interviewed by TIME for Kids reporter Bellen Woodard. 

Also, video is available from the Secretary’s earlier stops at White Plains High School in New York and Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia. 

Additionally, highlighting the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the American Jobs Plan, and the American Families Plan, President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden toured Yorktown Elementary School and Tidewater Community College in Virginia; Secretary Cardona visited the Community College of Baltimore County’s Catonsville campus; Dr. Biden toured Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City, Utah; Vice President Harris visited engineering labs at the University of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee campus; and Dr. Biden and actress Jennifer Garner toured a vaccination center at Capital High School in Charleston, West Virginia. 

In related news:



On May 11, the Department announced more than $36 billion in emergency grants under the ARP for postsecondary education.  These grants will help over 5,000 institutions of higher education, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), and provide emergency financial aid to millions of students and ensure that learning continues during the COVID-19 national emergency.  This ARP funding more than doubles the emergency relief aid available to students and institutions already authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act. 

To help institutions quickly and effectively utilize the ARP funds, the Department also released guidance detailing how institutions can use these funds to, among other things, support vulnerable students, actively monitor and suppress the COVID-19 virus, and reengage students whose education was disrupted by the pandemic. 

Allocations for public and private non-profit schools and propriety schools under the ARP Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund are based on a formula that includes the relative shares of federal Pell Grant recipients, the relative shares of non-Pell Grant recipients, and the relative shares of Pell Grant recipients enrolled in distance education prior to the pandemic. 

Public and private non-profit schools must use half of the funding allocated to each institution to provide direct relief to students.  (The agency released a final rule that allows institutions to provide emergency aid to all students.)  Institutions may use the remaining funding in a variety of ways, from retaining students by offering academic or mental health support systems and reengaging students by discharging student debts accrued during the pandemic to implementing evidence-based practices to monitor and suppress the virus in accordance with public health guidelines and detecting virus transmission with a diagnostic or screening testing strategy.  They may also cover institutional costs, such as lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology associated with the transition to distance education, staff training, and payroll. 

Proprietary schools must use 100% of the funding to provide financial aid grants to students. 


Teacher Appreciation Week

Last week, in recognition of National Teacher Appreciation Day (May 4) and Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3-7), especially during this continued period of national emergency, senior officers across government saluted the nation’s educators. 

President Biden issued a proclamation, noting “Education is the one field that makes all others possible.  Every one of us has been shaped by someone who inspired our curiosity and helped us find our confidence, who guided us to think more clearly and pushed us to strive for better.  On National Teacher Appreciation Day and during Teacher Appreciation Week, we remember the tremendous debt of gratitude owed to educators everywhere who helped define us as individuals and as a country, and to all that they are doing to light the way forward for our families and our communities.” 

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden paid a surprise visit to the 2021 National Teacher of the Year Juliana Urtubey. 

Secretary Cardona issued a letter to America’s teachers, shared a video message with educators, delivered donuts to teachers at Stanton Elementary School in Washington, D.C., and engaged in an Twitter chat. 

The Secretary also met with the 2021 State Teachers of the Year and, subsequently, congratulated Urtubey. 

The Department’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office spotlighted four loan forgiveness options for teachers. 

The Department’s Homeroom blog offered two theme-based posts: “Honoring Teachers’ Commitment to Continual Improvement through Collaboration” and “Weeks Become Months: Teaching During a Pandemic.” 

Many others shared their appreciation via #ThankATeacher. 


This week, the Secretary announced the 2021 class of U.S. Presidential Scholars.  This program was established by Executive Order in 1964 to honor academic achievement by graduating high school seniors.  It was expanded in 1979 to honor students in the arts and in 2015 to honor students in career and technical education (CTE).  Each year, 161 students are named, including at least one young man and woman from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American families living abroad.  Another 15 students are chosen at-large, 20 students are scholars in the arts, and 20 students are scholars in CTE.  This year, more than 6,000 candidates qualified based on outstanding ACT or SAT scores or through nominations by Chief State School Officers, partner organizations, and the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts competition.  The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars -- appointed by the President -- selects the finalists based on their academic success, school evaluations, transcripts, and essays, as well as clear evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.  (Note: Unfortunately, the Department will not be able to bring the Scholars to Washington, D.C., this year, but a plan is being developed for online recognition.) 


Secretary Cardona testified on May 5 before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee on the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request for the Department of Education.  “Once we fully reopen buildings, we still have work to do,” he underscored during his opening remarks.  “Generations of inequity have left far too many students without equitable access to high-quality, inclusive learning opportunities -- including in our rural communities.  Education can be the great equalizer -- it was for me -- if we prioritize, replicate, and invest in what works for all students, not just some.”  The budget proposal calls on Congress to invest nearly $103 billion in the Department’s programs, a 41% increase over the FY 2021 appropriation. 


  • The U.S. Senate confirmed Cindy Marten as Deputy Secretary of Education (see Secretary Cardona’s statement).
  • Also, the Department selected Robert Cordray as the Chief Operating Officer of FSA, with the Secretary issuing a statement of support.
  • Moreover, the President announced his intent to nominate Catherine Lhamon as the agency’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (see the Secretary’s statement of support).
  • The Secretary celebrated College Signing Day by donning his Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils hat and wishing rising college students the best of luck.
  • The Secretary also honored the work of colleagues at the agency and across the country as part of Public Service Recognition Week (video and Department Twitter thread).
  • In the wake of #CollegeSigningDay and #PublicServiceRecognitionWeek, the Department’s Office of the Chief Data Officer is proud that the agency’s efforts to integrate and leverage publicly available consumer and institutional data through its College Scorecard served more than 1.9 million learners in 2020 (see the new #DataMatters post -- “Using Data to Inform Decisions: The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard”).
  • This month, the Secretary held virtual roundtables with educators who have student loans and are participating in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community to discuss their experiences during the pandemic and ongoing challenges related to education.
  • At George Hersey Robertson Elementary School in Connecticut, a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School, educators and school leaders have achieved a balance of consistent instructional practices and flexibility, allowing opportunities for teacher creativity and student choice (video and transcript).
  • The Department’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) has proposed two priorities under the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program.
  • The Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) is inviting applications for awards under the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) state grants and partnership grants.
  • The results from the 2018 NAEP Oral Reading Fluency study show that fluent reading of text can be a major challenge for many fourth-grade public school students who perform below the NAEP Basic level on the reading assessment.
  • In his new blog post, Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Director Mark Schneider outlines that, as IES becomes more focused on how best to help students catch up on unfinished learning results from the pandemic, the severity of the problem is becoming clearer. 


“Your uniqueness will be viewed as a deficit.  Some will try to make you believe that what sets you apart, sets you back.  I am here to remind you that your so-called deficits are, in fact, your superpowers.  For me, born in a housing project, moving seven times before the age of 13, living simply without a lot of financial resources, learning Spanish before English, and having strong connections to my Boricua roots, have served me well and allowed me to be prepared for this role….  Whether you have ADHD, are differently abled, moved to this country later in life, speak with an accent, grew up in poverty, or are LGBTQ, embrace your uniqueness and use it to find your purpose.  When you find your purpose, make the pursuit of your purpose greater than the pursuit of your position.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (5/8/21), from his University of Connecticut commencement address 


Among other key observances, May is designated Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, National Foster Care MonthNational Mental Health Awareness Month, and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. 

On May 25, from 1 to 2:15 p.m. Eastern Time, please join the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for a virtual event with analysis and discussion of the 2019 NAEP science results for grades 4, 8, and 12. 

Because of the ongoing pandemic, the ED Games Expo (June 1-6) has moved online.  Attendees will have the opportunity to demo learning games and technology and interact with developers virtually.  The agenda presents the schedule and information on how to access 35 online events occurring during the week. 

ED Review is a product of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications and Outreach, State and Local Engagement

This newsletter contains hypertext links to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations.  These links are provided for the user’s convenience.  The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information.  Furthermore, the inclusion of links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.

You are subscribed to ED Review for U.S. Department of Education.