ED Review (10/28/22)

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October 28, 2022



Per a court order, the Department is temporarily blocked from processing federal student loan debt discharges.  However, those eligible under the Administration’s student debt relief plan are still encouraged to apply -- in fact, nearly 22 million Americans have already done so to date -- and the Department will continue to review applications, so it may quickly process discharges when it is able to do so.  No one will need to reapply. 

On October 17, President Biden announced the results of beta testing of the application web site over the preceding weekend -- handling over eight million applications “without a glitch or any difficulty” -- and officially opened the site (President’s remarks and video, White House tweet, and Department’s Twitter thread). 

The application takes less than five minutes to complete.  It is short and simple, available in English and Spanish on desktop and mobile devices, and requires no Federal Student Aid (FSA) identification or supporting documentation.  If additional information is required, the Department will follow up directly (FAQs in English and Spanish). 

On October 21, the President delivered an update on student debt relief at Delaware State University: “This is a game changer,” he noted.  “We’re hearing from people all over the country….  The vast majority are applying on their phones.  And it’s easy.  [I]n less than a week, close to 22 million people have already given us the information to consider this life-changing relief” (President’s remarks and video and White House tweet). 

In response to the court’s order later that evening, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Secretary Cardona issued statements (1 and 2), and the Secretary recorded a direct-to-camera video. 

Meanwhile, a reminder that all new and returning students who plan to attend college between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024, should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) as soon as possible (Department tweet). 

Also, October 31 is the deadline for borrowers to take advantage of temporary changes under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. 

Finally, earlier this week, the Department announced one-time executive actions that will bring most loans managed by the agency closer to forgiveness, including credit toward PSLF for borrowers who have qualifying employment, coinciding with the July 2023 implementation of permanent fixes to PSLF through regulation (fact sheet). 

NAEP 2022

Raising the Bar 

According to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results -- the first since the start of the pandemic -- average scores in reading and math for both fourth- and eighth-grade students declined sharply since 2019.  There were declines in reading by three points in both grades, with 37% of fourth-grade students and 30% of eighth-grade students nationally below the NAEP “Basic” level.  Moreover, there were declines in math by five points in fourth-grade and eight points in eighth-grade, with 25% of fourth-grade students and 38% of eighth-grade students nationally below the NAEP “Basic” level.  No state or jurisdiction posted gains in reading or math in either grade, nor did any of the 26 participating urban school districts.  The vast majority posted declines (NAEP Day recording). 

“The results released today from the [NAEP] are appalling, unacceptable, and a reminder of the impact that this pandemic has had on our learners,” Secretary Cardona declared in a statement.  “The data also represent a call to action for the important work we must do now for our students -- especially those who have suffered the most during the pandemic.  This once-in-a-generation virus upended our country in so many ways -- and our students cannot be the ones who sacrifice most now or in the long run.  We must treat the task of catching our children up in reading and math with the urgency this moment demands….  It’s up to all of us to raise the bar in education” (see Learning Recovery landing page). 

The Secretary also spoke with reporters and, later, with parents at a Prince George’s County, Maryland, elementary school (photos). 

Furthermore, the Department issued an update to its guide on “Supporting Learning Acceleration with American Rescue Plan [ARP] Funds” and shared videos of principals (1, 2, and 3) utilizing ARP funding to address pandemic-related learning loss. 

And, on October 26, the agency hosted the first of five sessions focused on key strategies and programs to boost literacy and math outcomes (Secretary’s opening remarks and session recording). 


BFCIT visit 

On October 14, Secretary Cardona traveled to Boston with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh to visit Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology.  There, they learned more about the school’s career pathway classes, including in robotics and renewable energy (photos).  Secretary Cardona subsequently crossed the Charles River and participated in a fireside chat with students focused on COVID-19 recovery at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education (photos and video). 

Next, on October 20, the Secretary traveled to Nashville to attend the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation’s Music Teachers of Excellence Awards Ceremony (Associated Press article). 

Then, over three days, the Secretary re-joined Secretary Walsh at the National Summer Learning Association’s “Summer Changes Everything” conference; participated in the NAACP’s “National Town Hall: Debt Cancelled;” and spoke at The Atlantic’s Education Summit. 


Last week, Secretary Cardona announced the 2022 recipients of the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership.  Named for the second U.S. Secretary of Education, this award recognizes principals who are committed to education as a powerful and liberating force in people’s lives.  Part of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, principals are nominated by their school communities during final stages of the application process and will be celebrated during the program’s awards ceremony on November 3 and 4 in Washington, D.C. (infographic). 

Also last week, during Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week, the Department announced the 2022 recipients of the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award.  This award, now in its third year, is presented annually to two educators – one elementary and one secondary -- for excellence in cybersecurity education.  Benjamin Dougherty of Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio, and Allen Stubblefield, Jr., of Troy High School in Fullerton, California, were selected for instilling in their students the knowledge, skills, and passion for cybersecurity. 

Additionally, nominations are currently open (through January 9, 2023) for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. 


The National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) The Big Read, established in 2016, supports Americans reading and discussing a single book in their communities.  Local governments, libraries, school districts, colleges and universities, and non-profit organizations are encouraged to apply for one of an estimated 75 grants to be awarded for programming occurring between September 2023 and June 2024.  Besides funding, communities will receive resources, including reader’s guides, teacher’s guides, and audio guides featuring commentary from artists, educators, and public figures, and publicity materials.  For this cycle, communities will choose from 15 titles.  The application deadline is January 25, 2023. 



“[W]e know what works for our students -- and there are pockets of excellence all over this country.  Initial state assessment results in places like Indiana, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Louisiana show students are making important progress.  And 65% of urban districts included in the NAEP showed no statistically significant decline in fourth-grade reading scores, and 84% showed no such decline in eighth-grade reading.  These bright spots are encouraging, and they show what our hard-working educators, as trained professionals with deep knowledge of how to support their students, can achieve with the right conditions and adequate resources.  But raising the bar means we can’t just be satisfied with pockets of excellence for some, when we have an obligation to build systems of excellence for all.  Raising the bar means keeping standards high for all students.  Learning from what we as educators know works for our students -- and shaping bolder, sharper plans to help accelerate growth in reading and math.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (10/24/22), from remarks to reporters on NAEP 2022 


Among other education-related observations, November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, National Native American Heritage Month, and National Veterans and Military Families Month. 

Schools are encouraged to invite U.S. military veterans into their classrooms around Veterans Day (November 11).  Veterans can share their experiences and teach students lessons about the history and significance of the federal holiday, helping students reflect upon the importance of the ideals of liberty, freedom, and democracy. 

International Education Week (November 14-18), a joint initiative of the Departments of Education and State, celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. 

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