Sen. Whitehouse Introduces Two Education Bills

Senator Intends to Champion These Proposals in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization Process

Washington, DC – For the last several weeks the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has been working towards reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – also known as the No Child Left Behind law. Today, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced two bills that he plans to champion as the Committee continues its effort to reauthorize ESEA.

“These proposals will help to improve key aspects of our education system: ensuring success for students in the middle grades, and providing students with fulfilling after-school activities,” said Whitehouse. “The ESEA reauthorization is our most significant opportunity this Congress to pursue commonsense reforms that help students and teachers, and I hope these proposals will be incorporated into the larger bill.”

Details on each of Whitehouse’s bills are below.

The Community Partnerships in Education Act
The Community Partnerships in Education Act would encourage school districts and community-based organizations to work together to improve the availability and quality of afterschool programming for students. It has been championed in the House of Representatives by Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), who first became involved in afterschool planning during his time as Mayor of Providence.

“Ensuring young people have the tools they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom is essential to building our communities and strengthening our economy,” said Cicilline, who first introduced the Community Partnerships in Education Act in the 113th Congress and has been a champion for afterschool programs throughout his time in public service. “When schools and communities partner to provide services around education, athletics, and job readiness, our young people have the best chance to access high-quality, holistic educational opportunities. I want to thank Senator Whitehouse for his leadership on this legislation in the Senate, and for advocating for afterschool programs and community partnerships on the Senate HELP Committee.”

According to the Afterschool Alliance’s most recent America After 3pm report, 15 million children are left unsupervised after school from the hours of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. In Rhode Island, 17 percent of K-12 youth participate in afterschool programs, however, 27 percent are alone at some point each week, and 38 percent would participate in an afterschool program if they had the opportunity. The study also found that, nationwide, parents said that afterschool programs made it easier for them to keep their jobs while providing peace of mind about their children.

Cicilline and Whitehouse’s legislation would amend the ESEA to incentivize partnerships between school districts and community organizations to provide enriching afterschool activities for children. For example, a school’s math unit on fractions could be augmented by an afterschool cooking program to give students hands-on experience with the concepts they are learning in the classroom. Eligible activities go beyond academics and could include community improvement projects connecting students to their neighbors and community.

The Success in the Middle Act
The Success in the Middle Act aims to help middle-grade students who are at-risk of dropping out of high school transition to and complete their secondary schooling. The bill would provide federal grants to underachieving school systems for early-warning and intervention strategies, including:

  • Developing and implementing comprehensive, school-wide improvement efforts in eligible schools;
  • Providing professional development and coaching to school leaders, teachers and other school personnel in addressing the needs of all learners and in using challenging and relevant research-based best practices and curriculum; and
  • Implementing student supports such as extended learning time and personal academic plans that enable all students to stay on the path to graduation.

Earlier versions of this legislation were introduced in the Senate by Barack Obama before he was elected President, and later by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI). Whitehouse has been the lead sponsor of the bill since 2011.


The report highlights the National Forum, the Forum Investing in Innovation Development Grant, and T. E. Mabry Middle School, a South Carolina Schools to Watch.  CLICK HERE to read the report.


On April 17, 2014 Graduation Tomorrow, Middle Grades Now! was presented as part of the College Access Affinity Group at the U. S. Department of Education. 





Department of Education Announces Highest-Rated Applications Secure Match Funding and Become Grantees for Investing in Innovation 2013 Competition




The link below contains an article by Dr. Hilary Conklin, a professor at DePaul in Chicago.  This article has a great message about middle grades education and young adolescents.


On Thursday, October 10, 2013.

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform in conjunction with the Association of Middle-Grade Schools (AIMS) presented a day-long national conversation on student engagement and motivation.

Click Here for more information.

Education Week reposted a blog from Rural Education.  This posting talks about 2 i3 schools Hamlet, NC and Coalinga, CA.  Read more at the link

Two Rural i3 Recipients Show Improvement, Tout Benefits of Federal Grant

CLICK HERE to see the PowerPoint used in June 27, 2013 Hill Briefing
(PDF version)                                                                                                              

Alliance for Excellent Education

Association for Middle Level Education

National Association of Elementary School Principals

National Association of Secondary School Principals

National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform



Honorary Co-host

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-7)




Absenteeism in the Middle Grades:

The Prevalence, the Impact, and Turning it Around


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM

122 Cannon House Office Building


Presenters Include

Moderator, Jeff La Roux, Board President

Association for Middle Level Education


Sue Fothergill, Senior Policy Associate

Attendance Works


Nikita Horn, Mason School,

Chicago Public Schools Rosewell Mason Elementary School

Early Indicator Data Manager and In-School Communicator

School to Watch Transformation Network Investing in Innovation i3 Grant

Vincent Mascia, Principal
Southmoreland Middle School
Scottdale, PA

2013 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School


RSVP to: Stephanie



ED Highlights the Work of i3 Grantees

On Thursday, the Department of Education’s (ED) Office of Innovation and Improvement held a briefing on “Investing in Innovation (i3) Three Years Later: How Grantees are Successfully Improving Low-Performing School via National Reform Networks,” to highlight the work of three i3 grantees and their program models.  The event featured i3 grantees: Debbie Kasak, Executive Director, Schools to Watch (STW), National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform; Robert Balfanz, Co-Director, Talent Development, Diplomas Now (DN), Middle and High School Project, Johns Hopkins University; and Justin Jones, Executive Director, the Achievement Network (ANet).  Introducing the speakers, Nadya Dabby, Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary, explained that the grantees’ models link individual schools to larger reform networks that provide support for implementation and place schools in “national communities of shared practice.”  The speakers focused on how their program models use research-based approaches, including data-drive instruction, and a variety of collaborative activities among teachers and administrators to implement academic and social supports.  During her presentation, Kasak detailed how STW participants leverage multi-layer systems of interventions, supports and networks that consist of visits by trained coaches; mentor school matching for cross-site visitation, observation and peer mentoring; on-site professional development; principal coaches on leadership issues; online discussion groups, webinars and national conferences; and school- based monitoring and assessment.  Kasak pointed out that the STW mentor-school networking and cross-site visits has been a “powerful tool for inspiration” and has “really open[ed] the eyes” of administrators and teachers to the possibility of change.  Balfanz discussed DN’s “teacher teams” approach that focuses on surrounding teachers with organizational, instructional, professional, data and student supports.  These consist of scheduling common planning times, providing on-the-job coaching and analyzing student data to address Early Warning Indicators of attendance, behavior and course performance.  Balfanz also highlighted the importance of the evaluation component of the i3 grant.  The results of the i3 evaluation, he said, will provide DN and district partners with research-validated proof points for turning around secondary schools; demonstrate the conditions necessary for maximizing the impact of each partner; and have significant potential to inform future strategies and education legislation targeting low performing schools.  Jones discussed the four types of supports ANet provides:  1) coaching; 2) interim assessment and reports; 3) membership in the network; and 4) district level consulting.  It is ANet’s belief that “by providing schools with an integrated set of services, it can help schools adopt a defined set of proven practices that consistently lead to student achievement gain among all cohorts,” said Jones, and the i3 grant is helping to test this theory and assess the impact of the program.  The grant has also helped fuel ANet’s growth, which has averaged 80 percent annually since 2008, he said.  For more information, visit:


Free Webinar: Help for Struggling Middle School Readers

Moderator: Carolyn Brown has a Ph.D. in Speech Pathology and Audiology specializing in Child Development.
Bob McMurray is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Communication Sciences at the University of Iowa.
READ More or Register

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NASSP & CSSR to Host Breaking Ranks Showcase

NASSP in collaboration with The Center for Secondary School Redesign (CSSR) will present the first Regional Breaking Ranks School Showcase featuring 15 diverse, high-poverty, high-achieving middle level and high schools sharing proven methods for addressing sustainable school improvement.  Two California Schools-to-Watch are among those being showcased.  The event will take place in San Diego on December 1.  For more information, go to:


Youth Nex

The Youth-Nex Conference was held October 18-19, 2012, at the Univeristy of Virginia in order to examine developmental issues of early adolescence, the intersection with educational programming, and best methods to promoteeffective youth development. Mrs. Alma Powell, of America’s Promise Alliance gave the keynote address. Read more and watch the presentations..  The conversation continues online with Blog enteries from particpants.