News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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All 50 States Submit Accountability Plans

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico submitted their accountability plans for review under the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001 on schedule, Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced last week.

The plans, which detail how and under what timelines states are to ensure that all students perform at the "proficient" level on state tests, were due to the federal Department of Education on Jan. 31. The plans also must address how states intend to close achievement gaps between disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers.

In a press statement, Secretary Paige applauded the "unprecedented cooperation and can-do spirit" that he said state officials demonstrated in meeting one of the key deadlines under the law, a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

So far, the department has approved the accountability plans for five states: Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Massachusetts, and New York. ("Approval of States' ESEA Plans Suggests Flexibility," Jan. 22, 2003.)

—Lynn Olson

Senate Confirms Poet To Head Endowment

Dana Gioia, a poet who has worked to improve poetry education for high school students, will take the helm of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Senate last week unanimously confirmed President Bush's nomination of Mr. Gioia to become the chairman of the arts agency.

"Leading the National Endowment for the Arts is a great privilege and an enormous responsibility," said Mr. Gioia, 51. "Both the arts and arts education face many challenges at present, and the endowment has much to do."

In 1991, he wrote a book called Can Poetry Matter? to address the question of poetry's place in the modern world.

He has also worked to make sure poetry has a place with young people. In 2001, for example, Mr. Gioia founded Teaching Poetry, a conference dedicated to improving high school poetry instruction.

He also was the founder and co- director of West Chester University's summer conference on form and narrative, the West Chester, Pa., poetry-writing conference that is the nation's largest.

Mr. Gioia will begin his tenure at the arts endowment later this month.

—Lisa Fine Goldstein

Panel Named to Advise On Title I Evaluation

The Department of Education has named the members of an independent panel to advise the agency in evaluating the Title I program for disadvantaged students.

Congress, as part of the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, mandated that the department conduct an evaluation of Title I.

The 17 panel members represent a range of perspectives, including researchers, practitioners, parents, school board members, and others.

Eric Smith, the superintendent of the 75,000-student Anne Arundel County, Md., school system, will chair the panel.

Among the members are Gayle Fallon of the Houston Federation of Teachers, Paul Peterson of Harvard University, John Stevens of the Texas Business and Education Coalition, and Rodney Watson of the Louisiana Department of Education.

—Erik W. Robelen

Bush Initiates Award To Honor Volunteers

In celebrating the first anniversary of the USA Freedom Corps on Jan. 30, President Bush announced that Americans who volunteer for a significant amount of time can receive a "President's Volunteer Service Award."

The new award consists of a certificate, which Mr. Bush said, "... Americans from all walks of life all around our country will be able to post boldly on their wall that says, 'I served this great country by loving somebody.' "

An executive order, issued following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, created the Freedom Corps to give citizens more volunteer opportunities, including service in schools around the country.

To qualify for the certificate, volunteers between the ages of 5 and 14 must serve for at least 50 hours during a calendar year. Those who are age 15 or older must complete 100 hours or more of volunteer service during a calendar year

—Michelle Galley

Vol. 22, Issue 22, Page 28

Published in Print: February 12, 2003, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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