Sen. Murkowski's Education Newsletter for the week of June 7, 2010

The latest Education News you can use in one place.

Alaska Meets Requirements for IDEA

USED released notification of states' 2008 progress in meeting the requirements of IDEA for Part B (ages 3-21) and Part C (birth through age 2) compliance.  Alaska meets requirements for Part B, and Needs Assistance (for two consecutive years) for Part C. 

If a state "needs assistance" for two consecutive years, the Department must take one or more enforcement actions, including among others, requiring the state to receive technical assistance, designating the state as a high-risk grantee, or directing the use of state set-aside funds to the area(s) where the state needs assistance.

Congratulations to all those who are responsible for Alaska meeting Part B requirements for four years in a row!


New What Works Clearinghouse Review - FAFSA Assistance

What Works Clearinghouse released a new Quick Review of a study to determine whether or not students and adults are more likely to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), receive aid, and attend college if they receive assistance in filling out the FAFSA, receive information about the FAFSA, or receive neither.  The study was titled, "The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment".  The authors analyzed data on about 17,000 individuals in 156 H&R Block tax preparation offices in Ohio and North Carolina.  In general, the study found:   

  • Individuals who received assistance with filling out the FAFSA and information about financial aid were significantly more likely to submit the aid application.
  • High school seniors who received help filling out the FAFSA enrolled in college at a greater rate than those who only received information, but this difference was not seen for adults.
  • Receiving help filling out the FAFSA increased the likelihood of receiving a Pell Grant and the total amount of federal grants received for high school seniors and financially independent adults.
  • Independents with prior college experience in the FAFSA group were also more likely to receive a federal student loan.

The WWC Quick Review is available at http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/quickreviews/QRReport.aspx?QRID=142.  The full study is available at http://gseacademic.harvard.edu/~longbr/Bettinger_Long_Oreopoulos_Sanbonmatsu_-_FAFSA_experiment_9-09.pdf.  


American Youth Policy Forum Webinar

The American Youth Policy Forum is hosting a webinar on June 22nd entitled, "Preparing College- and Career-Ready Students: Elements of Successful Programs".  If you intend to participate, you will need to register via https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/895181745.  A copy of the AYPF report, Success at Every Step: How 23 Programs Support Youth on the Path to College and Beyond, which will serve as the basis for the webinar, can be obtained at http://www.aypf.org/publications/SuccessAtEveryStep.htm.


National and State Graduation and Dropout Rates Announced

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has issued "First Look" data that presents findings associated with public high school graduation and event dropout counts for the 2007-08 school year. The data was collected as part of the Common Core of Data Survey Collection, a universe collection of public schools operating in the United States and associated other jurisdictions. 

According to the report, nationwide, 75 percent of public high school students who started as freshmen in the fall of 2004 graduated high school in 2008-up from 74 percent who graduated on time in the spring of 2007. Additionally, four percent of high school students dropped out of school during the 2007-08 school year, marking a decrease of at least half a percentage point for 14 states and the District of Columbia from 2006-07. 

In Alaska, the good news is that things haven't gotten worse.  The bad news is that they weren't so good to start with.

Alaska's Average Freshman Graduation Rate for 2007-08 was 69.1%, unchanged from the year before.  That puts us as 8th worst in the nation.  The disaggregated AFGR data is:

  • Hispanic: 90.7%
  • Asian/Pacific Islander: 76.6%
  • White: 70.3%
  • Alaska Native: 51.9%
  • Black: 51.8%

Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) is an estimate of the percentage of an entering freshman class graduating in 4 years. For 2007-08, it equals the total number of diploma recipients in 2007-08 divided by the average membership of the 8th-grade class in 2003-04, the 9th-grade class in 2004-05, and the 10th-grade class in 2005-06.  Graduates are those students who are reported as diploma recipients.

Alaska's Event Dropout Rate for 2007-08 was also unchanged from the previous year at 7.3% -- the highest in the nation.  The disaggregated EDR data is:

  • Hispanic: 7.5%
  • Asian/Pacific Islander: 6.9%
  • White: 5.1%
  • Alaska Native: 12.2%
  • Black: 9.6%

The event dropout rate is defined as the count of dropouts from a given school year divided by the count of student enrollments within the same grade span at the beginning of the same school year. The CCD defines a dropout as a student who was enrolled at any time during the previous school year who is not enrolled at the beginning of the current school year and who has not successfully completed school. Students who have transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts.

For more information, the complete report is available online at:  http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2010341.  


Senator Murkowski Seeks Input on Alaska Native Educational Equity Program

As you know, the Senate HELP Committee is again turning to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  I know that conversations have been held sporadically among some of the folks who are interested in Alaska Native education issues.  If you, or any of the folks you work with, have any recommendations to share, or questions or suggestions to offer, please do.  You can contact me via the web at https://www.murkowski.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=EMailLisa.  Of course, if you have comments to share about any of the other provisions of ESEA, I welcome those as well.