Whiteboard Notes | ESSA Parents Guide; HI Seeks to Reclassify Bullying; New York Public Schools Teach Mental Health Lessons

Secretary DeVos Releases ESSA Guide for Parents: Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos unveiled a “Dear Parent” letter at a roundtable discussion in Mississippi during her Rethink School tour. The document is meant to serve as an easy-to-use guide for parents and guardians to understand the nuances and flexibility of the Every Student Succeeds Act - a law which made specific callouts to including parents in the development of state education plans. [U.S. Department of Education]  
Senators Call for investigation Into Virtual Charters: On Wednesday, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asking the office to launch an investigation into the practices and policies of virtual charter schools. Virtual charters have come under increased scrutiny in recent years in the wake of high-profile school closures and concerns about accountability for student outcomes and transparency around student attendance and engagement. [Huffington Post]  
EIR Grants Steered Towards STEM Programs: Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released the winners of the latest round of Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grants - a $120 million program designed to help scale up promising practices at state and district levels. 11 of the 18 grantees in this latest award cycle were programs with a STEM focus - ranging from programs to help rural students in Texas take more AP courses in STEM subjects to personalized learning computer science programs for high-needs students in New York City. [U.S. Department of Education]

Hawaii Department of Education Seeks to Reclassify Bullying: In the midst of National Bullying Awareness Month, the Hawaii Department of Education has proposed to elevate bullying to a Class A offense for students in grade 7 and above and to raise student-to-student sexual harassment to a Class A offense among students in grade 5 and above, meaning these offenses would be handled at the same level as assault, burglary and possession of a firearm. This proposal is the department’s latest effort to improve its student misconduct code after it was found to not comply with federal anti-discrimination regulations earlier this year. The Board of Education unanimously approved the DOE’s recent proposal and the DOE plans to hold a public hearing to gather feedback before seeking approval from the Attorney General and governor.  
Evaluating Teachers Across Multiple Measures Improves Teacher Retention: A recent reportreleased by the National Council on Teacher Quality found that states and districts using multiple measures to evaluate teachers have not only improved retention, but have also retained more highly effective teachers. According to HR Dive, Denver Public Schools, profiled in the report, retained 91% of its most effective teachers and only 20% of its least effective teachers.

California State University Removes No-Credit Remedial Classes: In an effort to increase student graduation rates, California State University eliminated all no-credit remedial classes, and replaced them with college-level courses for credit. In 2016 CSU launched their systemwide “Graduation Initiative 2025,” which targeted the diploma-delaying conditions. CSU is currently working to “unclog the system and help more students graduate in four years or six if  they cannot attend full time.” State legislators in California have given $150 million to CSU. which has allowed for institutions  to hire more professors, upgrade mentoring programs, and add academic advisors. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
No Homework or Reading Assignments Given to Students at Foundry College: Stephen Kosslyn, former Harvard dean recently opened a two-year online college that combines practical knowledge with general education. Foundry College, is a for-profit college that has plans to seek regional accreditation.. Each course at Foundry is designed for students to complete everything required during their 90-minute class periods, which means no homework will be assigned. Foundry College will not accept any transfer credits, but Kosslyn hopes the credential will allow students to create a faster and more career focused educational option. [EdSurge]