Washington Post: Obama expands use of standardized tests for special-needs and American Indian students

Here. An excerpt:

Special education isn’t the only area that the Education Department has new standardized testing plans. Duncan announced earlier this month that the department was going to reform the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education.

Nobody would argue that the agency, responsible for the education of tens of thousands of American Indian students, isn’t over-ripe for reform: The agency has had 33 directors in the last 35 years and student outcomes in the education programs and residential facilities for Indian students that it supports are awful. . . . 

But will grant competitions and standardized test-based evaluations of teachers actually help? That’s what the administration said it wants to do: Initiate efforts that are very similar to the Race to the Top contest for federal K-12 education funding that required state competitors to promise to make specific Duncan-approved reforms, including linking teacher evaluation to test scores. Does the administration really think that controversial evaluations will entice more teachers to schools that are already facing teacher shortages?

Our previous post on the administration’s plans for BIE is here.

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Program Supervisor needed in Washington State!

The Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is seeking a visionary and dynamic leader to join the OSPI team as the Program Supervisor of the Office of Native Education. This critical and innovative full-time position is based in Olympia, Washington. Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the OSPI website (www.k12.wa.us) to gain insight into the agency’s mission and strategic plan.

Position Overview:

Work with educators and others in providing technical assistance, training and information to school districts and tribal communities to ensure that school districts and tribal communities remain current with Native American curriculum and that Native American students have equal access to all educational programs and opportunities. Implement legislation as it relates to Indian Education. Serve as OSPI’s liaison to the Tribes, and Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs.

For more information about this opportunity and its application and submission process:

Click here: Program Supervisor for the Office of Native Education


Visit the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website

Grant Opportunities: Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program

Program Description: 

The IAL program supports high-quality programs designed to develop and improve literacy skills for children and students from birth through 12th grade in high-need local educational agencies (high-need LEAs, as defined in the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA)) and schools. The Department intends to support innovative programs that promote early literacy for young children, motivate older children to read, and increase student achievement by using school libraries as partners to improve literacy, distributing free books to children and their families, and offering high-quality literacy activities.

Many schools and districts across the Nation do not have school libraries that deliver high-quality literacy programming to children and their families. Additionally, many schools do not have qualified library media specialists and library facilities. Where facilities do exist, they often lack adequate books and other materials and resources. In many communities, high-need children have limited access to appropriate age- and grade-level reading material in their homes.

The IAL program supports the implementation of high-quality plans for childhood literacy activities and book distribution efforts that are supported by evidence of strong theory (as defined in the NIA).

  • Eligibility Requirements: High-need local educational agencies, national nonprofit organizations, and coordination with school libraries.
  • Application Deadline: 7/17/2014
  • Available: LEAs: $150-750K; and NNPs: $3-14M over a period up to 2 years!
  • Estimated Number of Awards: LEAs: 30; and NNPs: 1-4

For more information about this program and its application and submission process, please visit the U.S. Department of Education website!

Eighth Circuit Briefs in Tribal Court Jurisdiction Matters — Belcourt Public School District v. Davis and Fort Yates Public School Dist. No. 4 v. Murphy

From Turtle Talk here and here.

Belcourt materials:

Belcourt Public School District Opening Brief

Tribal Response Brief

Belcourt Public School District Reply Brief

Lower court materials, with our previous post, here.

Fort Yates materials:

Fort Yates School District Brief

CMB Brief

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Response Brief


BIE Draft Rule on Leasing and Fundraising at BIE Schools

Here is the June 19 Dear Tribal Leader letter regarding the Draft Rule.  Here is the draft rule itself.

An excerpt from the letter:

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) has prepared a draft rule to address leasing and
fundraising at BIE operated schools. This rule currently affects only federally operated
schools, lessees, and school employees. It does not affect tribally operated schools, grant
schools, or any schools not operated by BIE.

The rule implements a mandate from Congress to establish standards for leasing and fundraising at BIE-operated schools (See Pub. L. 112-74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 20 12). The leasing standards apply to leasing of BIE-operated school land and/or facilities in exchange for funds to be used for school purposes. The fundraising standards apply to BIE-operated school employees who fundraise for a BIE-operated school.

You can see this and more at BIA’s Consultation site.

***HAPPENING NOW*** Joint Subcommittee Hearing: How Data Mining Threatens Students’ Privacy

PRESS RELEASE from: Congressman John Kline, Chairman
June 25, 2014 CONTACT: Press Office
(202) 226-9440

LIVE Webcast – Click here to watch the LIVE webcast of the hearing.
Opening Statement of Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (remarks as prepared):

We are dealing with an issue today that is both critically important and exceptionally complex.

Why is it so important? As we fight for all Americans looking to build better lives for themselves and their families, we know that a quality education is at the root of that better life. With very few exceptions, a worker will not succeed in the workforce if they failed as a student in the classroom. A strong education system is essential to a strong America. That is why we should encourage innovative solutions to raise achievement and embrace new technologies that allow us to teach children in more effective ways.

We all can see how acquiring data on student performance can revolutionize student learning. For starters, data can provide an early warning to teachers, alerting them to students who are falling behind and need extra help. It can also awaken parents to the challenges their child is facing so they can step in with additional support at home. Additionally, data on student achievement can equip local communities with the information needed to hold their schools accountable, as well as enable schools to share information on what’s working in their classrooms and what’s not.

Why is it so complex? Well, I think we’ve learned by now that modern technology is anything but a simple concept. The science and ingenuity behind each new smart phone, app, computer, or piece of software is tough to comprehend, yet these products have become an integral part of our everyday lives. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like if we never heard of names such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.

Read More.