USDOE: Ed Review



August 7, 2020





Visiting states and in the media, President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary DeVos, and other senior Administration officials continue to reiterate the importance of safely reopening America’s schools this fall (fact sheet).


First, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an audio recording and transcript of its July 24 media telebriefing on new science-based resources and tools for school administrators, teachers, parents, guardians, and caregivers.  The CDC’s guidance supports reopening schools safely by providing key information to assist decision-making and adapt to local conditions.  Deputy Secretary of Education Mitchell Zais joined CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield for the briefing.


Next, in Indianapolis, the Vice President, the Secretary, and White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx participated in a roundtable discussion with Governor Eric Holcomb and stakeholders at Marian University (Vice President’s remarksvideo, and Vice President’s tweet).


Then, the Secretary was on Fox News’ “Bill Hemmer Reports,” asserting “parents and children can’t be held captive to others’ fears or agendas.  We have got to get to a point in this country where we are supporting our families and focused on doing what is right for students….  We know it can be done safely, and for those teachers who may be vulnerable themselves, there are other things that can be done so that they can continue to contribute in a major way.”


Also, Deputy Secretary Zais discussed reopening schools at the Texas Rural Education Association’s Virtual Summer Conference, and Special Assistant for Rural Outreach Michael Chamberlain spoke about reopening schools at the Coalition of Small and Rural Schools of Virginia’s Reopening Schools Summit.






Last week, Secretary DeVos announced more than $180 million in grant awards for 11 states rethinking K-12 education to better serve students during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The grants -- awarded to Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas -- will support efforts to create new, innovative ways for students to continue learning in ways that meet their needs.  Awards range from $6 million to $20 million.


“Ensuring every student can continue to learn during the Coronavirus pandemic requires innovation from local education leaders and a laser-like focus on doing what’s right for students,” the Secretary stated.  “This grant will help states adapt and overcome challenges to strengthen education both now and for the long term.  If we’ve learning anything from this pandemic, it’s that the antiquated one-size-fits-all approach to education is no longer tenable, and education going forward must be more adaptable and student-centered.”


Congress set aside 1% of the $30.75 billion allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for grants to states with the highest Coronavirus burden.  The Department announced the Rethink K-12 Education Models grant competition in April, inviting state education agencies to apply.  Specifically, it called for projects to provide families with: microgrants, so that states can ensure families have access to the technology and services to advance learning remotely; statewide virtual learning and course access programs, so that students can access a full-range of subjects, even those not taught in their assigned setting; and new, field-initiated models for providing remote education to ensure that every child is learning and preparing for successful careers and lives.


Applications were evaluated by a panel of independent peer reviewers.  Those states with the highest Coronavirus burden were prioritized.  The highest-scoring applications received funding (fact sheet and summary of top-ranked grantees by priority and Twitter thread).


The Department’s COVID-19 information and resources web page has the most current information for students, parents, educators, and local leaders, and any questions for the Department may be directed to [email protected].






Also last week, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released its “Annual Report to the Secretary, the President, and the Congress: Fiscal Year 2019.”  This report illustrates the significant progress made throughout the first three fiscal years of the Trump Administration in processing complaints, closing cases, and requiring schools to protect students’ civil rights.


In its previous report, OCR highlighted the drastic improvement in the quality and quantity of its case resolutions.  In this year’s report, OCR underscores how it has built upon those successes while accomplishing several additional milestones, including:

  • ·       launching more than 700 proactive investigations in two national initiatives focused on improving outcomes for students with disabilities;
  • ·       reducing the number of complaints older than 180 days in every one of OCR’s 12 regional offices (for the first time in a decade);
  • ·       completing the largest-ever OCR investigation into systemic sexual assault problems in an urban public school system, requiring Chicago Public Schools to overhaul the process it uses to handle reports of sexual harassment;
  • ·       resolving one of the most extensive OCR investigations ever conducted in higher education, requiring Michigan State University to make sweeping changes to the way it addresses sexual assault in light of its mishandling of sexual conducts by Larry Nassar and others; and
  • ·       establishing the National Web Accessibility Team, consisting of dedicated OCR staff -- attorneys, investigators, and information technology experts -- to make technology accessible to all.


Separately, the White House issued a proclamation and Secretary DeVos released a personal video marking the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), codifying equal access for individuals with disabilities.




While the Department regrets being unable to recognize students, educators, and schools in person, given the current situation regarding COVID-19, it is celebrating honorees in other ways.


This week, across two Facebook pages and two Twitter accounts, the Department spotlighted this year’s U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.  A video features congratulatory remarks by Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan and a slideshow of honorees’ photos with a voiceover of accomplishments.  Moreover, about a half dozen sustainability chats have connected honorees online with field experts.  (Note: If your institution has not already been recognized, begin preparing for the 2021 application cycle by using resources available on Green Strides.)


Also this week, the President announced the 2020 recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.


NAEP 2021


The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), voted to advise the Commissioner of the National Center of Education Statistics to continue with preparations to safely administer assessments in reading and mathematics in 2021.  States are required to participate biennially in the assessments in grades 4 and 8 by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Both agencies will monitor the ability of states, schools, and students to participate in the assessments, based on school operations and health factors related to COVID-19, and determine if it becomes necessary to seek a waiver from Congress to postpone the assessments to 2022.


In related action, NAGB delayed voluntary assessments in grade 8, as well as the long-term trend assessment for 17-year-olds, from 2021 to 2022.


Contingency plans to administer NAEP are being developed to mitigate the risk to health and safety and preserve the quality of the data that the assessments would yield.




  • ·       The Department is inviting applications for the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program’s early phase competition.  These grants are focused on launching, iterating, and refining practices that have the potential for further scaling.  A pre-recorded pre-application webinar, as well as other related updates and resources, can be found on the EIR FY 2020 competition page.  (Note: The deadline for applications is September 10.)
  • ·       All of the Office of Special Education Programs’ (OSEP) Continuity of Learning webinars, focused on ready-to-use resources, tools, and practices from federal grantees to support the educational, developmental, and social-emotional needs of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities through remote and distance learning, are posted on an IDEAs That Work web page.
  • ·       This summer, a new children’s show funded by the Department’s Ready to Learn Television program debuted on PBS.  “Hero Elementary” is about a school for up-and-coming superheroes, where students learn to master such powers as flying and teleportation while exploring science along the way.  The series -- watch a preview episode available on YouTube -- pushes children ages 4 to 7 to think like scientists to solve problems and touches upon social issues like kindness and empathy.
  • ·       A National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) First Look report presents data about aspects of parent involvement in education and reasons for choosing the child’s school.
  • ·       Also, NCES released web tables detailing outcomes of 2015-16 bachelor’s degree recipients one year after graduation.




“One study estimates that, due to school closures last spring, the average student is going to begin this year roughly 35% behind in reading, compared to a typical year, and 50% behind in math.  When you factor that fact -- that our kids could fall behind academically -- it’s also important to remember that there are real risks to our children’s well-being.  Many children across the country have either learning disabilities or deal with emotional issues.  They receive the counseling at the schools and, really, nowhere else.  And, there are tens of millions of children who rely on school nutrition programs.  So, for their personal well-being, for their counseling, for those facing either learning challenges or physical challenges, you know it’s the best thing for our kids to get them back to school and get them back to school this fall.”


-- Vice President Mike Pence (7/24/20), in remarks at a roundtable on safely reopening schools at Marian University in Indianapolis




On August 18, from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern Time, the Department’s Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives at the Department will host a webinar to advise educators and families of their rights to prayer and religious expression in public schools, as outlined in the “Guidance for Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Elementary and Secondary Schools.”



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


To be added or removed from distribution or submit comments (we welcome your feedback!), please contact Managing Director Adam Honeysett at (202) 401-3003 or [email protected]. Or, visit


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.


Share this post:

Comments on "USDOE: Ed Review"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment