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Sen. Murkowski's Education Newsletter For The Week of June 14, 2010


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The latest Education News you can use in one place.

What Works Clearinghouse Review on "Read Well" Program for English Language Learners

This week, WWC released a review of research on the effectiveness of the "Read Well" program, a curriculum for kindergarten and first grade English language learners that provides instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. WWC reviewed five studies that investigated the effects of "Read Well" and found that one met WWC evidence standards. Based on that study, WWC determined that "Read Well" has no discernable effects on reading achievement but does have potentially positive effects for English language development. The full report can be found at

Senator Murkowski Seeks Input from Alaskans

As part of Senator Murkowski's continuing effort to ensure that Alaskan educators, parents, students, and members of the community are fully involved in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as the "No Child Left Behind Act"), the Senator posed the following questions to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development and Alaska's school superintendents regarding how well two parts of the law are working for them: the law's programs for English Language Learners and provisions that allow districts to flexibly use ESEA funding. Those questions were:

* What are you doing now with regard to English language acquisition and statewide academic proficiency assessments for the English Language Learner subgroup? What is working and not working? How are assessment scores are being used now? Please provide your perspective, if appropriate, on both Alaska Native ELL issues/programs and non-Native English language learners.

* Regarding flexibility of funding under ESEA (state flex, local flex, ed flex, and transferability), what is working (if anything), and what specific changes are you looking for under these programs?

Senator Murkowski looks forward to receiving input on these questions and will continue to involve Alaskan educators, parents, students, and the community in ESEA reauthorization.

This Week's Ed Review from the U.S. Department of Education

In an effort to ensure that Alaskans are aware of initiatives and policy proposals offered by the U.S. Department of Administration, Senator Murkowski regularly forwards the Department's Ed Review biweekly newsletter. The full newsletter can be found at Among the articles in this week's edition were the following:


"United We Serve: Let's Read. Let's Move." This new initiative -- an Administration-wide effort spearheaded by CNCS (Corporation for National and Community Service) -- seeks to combat summer reading loss and childhood obesity by engaging youth in summer reading and physical activity, as well as by providing full access to healthy, affordable food. Specifically, the initiative aims to increase access to volunteer projects around reading, exercise, and healthy eating; provide toolkits and other key resources to help Americans develop high-impact service projects; and build new partnerships to reach youth in large cities and rural communities.


Last week, the Department announced that 35 states and the District of Columbia submitted applications to be considered for Phase 2 of the Race to the Top competition. Depending on the size of the winning states, 10 to 15 states could win Race to the Top grants.


As required by law, the Department has issued determination letters regarding states' implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Each state was evaluated on key indicators under Part B (ages 3 through 21) and Part C (infants through age 2) and placed into one of four categories: meets requirements, needs assistance, needs intervention, and needs substantial intervention. (Congratulations to all those Alaskans responsible for achieving the "meets requirements" level for the 4th straight year for Part B! Well done!)


A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), presents findings associated with public high school graduation and dropout rates, for the 2007-08 school year.


* Secretary Duncan recently taped Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) video messages for school board members ( and school principals (
* Applications under the $10 million Promise Neighborhoods program ( are due June 25, while applications under the $437 million Teacher Incentive Fund ( are due July 6.
* In May, over 250 parents, grandparents, caregivers, and community members from 17 states gathered at the Department for a dialogue with Department officials. (
* In a third blog entry, the Department's Teaching Ambassador Fellows inquire about schools that have successfully turned around low-performance. In what ways have teachers been a part of effective reform efforts at the schools? Where are the examples of teacher-led reforms that have been models of collaborative stakeholder engagement? (
* The Secretary has announced the appointment of the 15 members to serve on the Committee on Measures of Student Success. Created under the Higher Education Opportunity Act, the committee will develop recommendations for two-year institutions of higher education to comply with the law's completion and graduation rate disclosure requirements. It will also develop recommendations regarding additional measures of student success that are comparable alternatives to the completion or graduation rates, taking into account the mission and role of such institutions. (
* A new blog post ( provides an update on the Department's global engagement.


On June 15, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the Department is offering a webinar, "Strategic Use of Title I and IDEA: How to Maximize ARRA, FY 2009, and FY 2010 Funds." ...this presentation will focus on the strategic management of Title I and IDEA Recovery Act and regular appropriation grant funds. The primary audience is Title I and IDEA state program and budget/financial staff, although other state and local education officials are also encouraged to participate. (

The 2010 Federal Student Aid (FSA) Conference in Orlando (November 30-December 3) is the premiere training and networking opportunity for financial aid professionals.

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