Friday, February 25, 2011

HACEMOS Looks to Inspire Minority Students With One-Day National High Technology Event

/PRNewswire/ -- AT&T's* Hispanic/Latino Association, HACEMOS, joins forces with Junior Achievement (JA) and its JA Job Shadow® initiative, to host more than 1,400 low-income and at-risk high school students in 22 cities across the country for the 13th Annual HACEMOS National High Technology Day.

HACEMOS National High Technology Day is designed to give students a better grasp of the opportunities available in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields—areas where minorities are underrepresented. The sessions and job shadow opportunities will enable minority students to team up with AT&T employees and experience the world of work firsthand, tour AT&T facilities, and participate in hands-on activities and interactive workshops related to careers in technology.

"AT&T's High Technology Day gives students real-world insight and hopefully will inspire them to join a high-growth field in technology, where they can establish a great future for themselves," said Delia Hernandez, national president of HACEMOS, the Hispanic/Latino Association of AT&T. "Statistics show that Latinos and other minority students are considerably underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. That's why we are proud to join forces with Junior Achievement as we look at doing our part to help reverse these disheartening trends."

"Junior Achievement is deeply committed to building the work-readiness of our young people so they can successfully compete in the global marketplace," added Jack E. Kosakowski, president and chief executive officer of Junior Achievement USA™. "It is through these potentially transformative mentoring and experiential learning opportunities that students make the important connections between their daily school curricula and life after graduation."

The theme for this year's National High Technology Day is "Rethink Your Future," intended to challenge students to consider rewarding careers in science and engineering. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Hispanics received only eight percent of bachelor's degrees in these fields.

In addition to the workshops and sessions, students will be able to connect with thousands of other high schools using AT&T's Telepresence Solution®, which is an advanced, high definition videoconference, that creates the sensation of an in-person meeting. Each student group will be able to see and talk to other students participating in their respective cities.

This year, Jeff Gomez, President and CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, will present his celebrated seminar "Never Surrender: The Kids Guide to Winning at Life," which he has presented to over 200,000 young people, parents and teachers around the world, using webcast technology. As part of this keynote, Gomez will address students nationwide drawing from his inspirational life story of being born in Manhattan's Lower East side to working on global movie and television multiplatform franchises including Avatar, Transformers, Tron: Legacy, Pirates of the Caribbean and Hot Wheels. He is now sought by executives and companies around the world as a leading transmedia producer and expert. As part of his ongoing dedication to instilling the values of leadership and empathy in young people Gomez has long supported causes like HACEMOS that reinforce these ideals.

Additionally, Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, will speak via video to the students. Mr. de la Vega is extensively involved in nonprofit and community organizations, serving as chairman of Junior Achievement Worldwide and of Hispanic Initiatives for the Boy Scouts of America.

This year's event will link nearly 1,400 high school students from close to 55 schools in:

* Anaheim, California
* Atlanta, Georgia
* Austin, Texas
* Charlotte, North Carolina
* Chicago, Illinois
* Dallas, Texas
* Florham Park, New Jersey
* Fresno, California
* Houston, Texas
* Irving, Texas
* Lake Mary, Florida
* Los Angeles, California
* Middletown, New Jersey
* Mission, Kansas
* Norman, Oklahoma
* San Antonio, Texas
* San Diego, California
* San Ramon, California
* St. Louis, Missouri


Through the AT&T/JA Worldwide Job Shadow Initiative, a $5.5 million commitment, AT&T will provide job shadow opportunities for 100,000 students, in grades 9-12—as well as second semester eighth graders—across the United States over five years. Since the initiative started in 2008, more than 65,000 students have participated in 211 cities. AT&T employees have volunteered more than 21,000 times for Job Shadow, dedicating more than 170,000 volunteer hours, to help students learn.

AT&T's Hispanic/Latino Association HACEMOS, with over 1,500 members, recognizes the importance of educating Hispanic youth and preparing them for a technology-intensive future. Its members are dedicated to developing and supporting technology education projects in communities where they live and work. For more information about National High Technology Day, please visit HACEMOS.

AT&T is deeply committed to the Hispanic community and organizations that support education and community vitality. For more information please visit espanol.att.com.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc. 

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Education Expert Jay Greene Keynotes March 5 Leadership Breakfast

On 'School Choice and Lessons for Education Reform in Georgia'

You are invited to "School Choice and Lessons for Education Reform in Georgia," a Georgia Public Policy Foundation Leadership Breakfast keynoted by renowned school choice researcher Jay P. Greene at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 5, 2011, at Mary Mac's Tea Room in Atlanta.

This event, co-sponsored by the Center for an Educated Georgia, will focus on Greene's new research into student scholarships and social promotions, and practical applications for Georgia.

Greene is the department head and 21st Century Chair in Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. He is also a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute. He conducts research and writes about education policy, including topics such as school choice, high school graduation rates, accountability and special education.

The author of "Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn't So," Greene's research was cited four times in the Supreme Court's opinions in the landmark Zelman v. Simmons-Harris case on school vouchers.

His articles have appeared in policy journals including The Public Interest, City Journal and Education Next; in academic journals including Education Finance and Policy, Economics of Education Review and the British Journal of Political Science; and in major newspapers including The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Greene, who has been a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston, received his B.A. in history from Tufts University and his Ph.D. from the Government Department at Harvard University.

This Leadership Breakfast is part of the "20 For 20" Campaign in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Foundation in 2011. To mark this milestone, the cost to attend this event is $20. The deadline to register is Thursday, March 3. To register, go to this link: www.gppf.org/default.asp?pt=eventdescr&EI=76. Media interested in attending please contact Benita Dodd at benitadodd@gppf.org or 404-256-4050.

Who: Jay P. Greene
What: "School Choice and Lessons for Education Reform in Georgia," a Leadership Breakfast
When: 8:30 a.m., Saturday, March 5, 2011
Where: Mary Mac's Tea Room, 224 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, GA 30308

Directions: www.marymacs.com/Directions/tabid/55/Default.aspx

About the Georgia Public Policy Foundation: The Foundation, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2011, is an independent, state-based think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. The Foundation’s regular events include Leadership Breakfasts and Policy Briefing Luncheons. Weekly publications are the Friday Facts and Friday Idea commentaries. Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read about innovative solutions to the state’s challenges or to watch streaming online video of Foundation events. Join the Foundation’s Facebook Fan Page or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gppf.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Smith Encourages Congress To Find Collaborative Solutions to Education Challenges

Fayette County Board of Education member Terri Smith joined more than 800 school board and state school boards association leaders to ask Congress to support public school students as they consider the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) this year.

Smith took part in the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 38th annual Federal Relations Network Conference February 6-8 in Washington, DC. She is a participant in NSBA’s Federal Relations Network, a national grassroots legislative effort that urges members of Congress to make K-12 education a top priority.

Once Congress reauthorizes ESEA, local school boards will be responsible for implementing the federal policies, so it is important that school board leaders are involved in the legislative process.

School funding also remains a major concern for local districts. School board leaders are requesting that Congress help ensure that public education is adequately funded and discontinue the practice of passing education legislation without providing the necessary funding for local implementation.

“To increase student success, public officials on the local, state, and federal level must work together to provide proper funding and support for local districts,” Smith says.

In addition, some members of Congress are pushing for alternatives to local school governance. School board leaders strongly believe schools are best governed by the communities they serve.

“Local governance and decision-making are essential to advancing public education and student achievement,” Smith adds.

Founded in 1940, NSBA is a not-for-profit organization representing state associations of school boards and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Working with and through state associations, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership.

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ULTA Announces 2011 Scholarship Program for Young Women

/PRNewswire/ -- ULTA, the largest beauty retailer in the US, has launched the 2011 Enrich, Empower & Enlighten Scholarship program with more than $100,000 in scholarship grants across 13 US cities. Open to young women who are high school seniors in those cities, each winner will receive an $8,000 scholarship to the educational institution of her choice.

Committed to the empowerment of women and the enrichment of their lives, the ULTA Enrich, Empower & Enlighten Scholarship program was established in 2008 and has already awarded nearly $150,000 to deserving young women nationwide.

The 2011 applications will be evaluated on community involvement, leadership qualities, academic achievement and commitment to continuing their education. Winners of the scholarships will best demonstrate the passion and skill set needed to succeed in their career area of choice and will exemplify a positive role model to their peers.

The 2011 ULTA Enrich, Empower & Enlighten Scholarship will be available in the following cities:

* Yorkville, IL
* Rogers, AR
* Cincinnati, OH
* Gainesville, GA
* Dallas, TX
* Miami, FL
* Quakertown, PA
* Columbus, OH
* Modesto, CA
* Chicago, IL
* Brandon, FL
* Oak Park, IL
* South Portland, ME


Scholarship application packets are currently available at the ULTA in each market. In addition to an essay, applicants must submit their most recent high school transcript and one letter of recommendation. All Scholarship application packets must be postmarked by March 18 and winners will be notified on or before May 31, 2011. Winners and their friends will be invited to a party in their honor at a local ULTA store, complete with free makeovers and product giveaways.

For more information on the ULTA Enrich, Empower &Enlighten Scholarship program and to find a complete list of eligible local high schools, please log on to www.ulta.com.

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Gap and Atlanta Technical College Launch Job Skills Training Course for Students

/PRNewswire/ -- Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) announced today (February 17) the start of Gap for Community Colleges, a partnership between Atlanta Technical College (ATC) and Gap Inc. as part of White House Initiative 'Skills for America's Future.' The program will provide community college students with the skills and knowledge to be successful and competitive in the workforce.

"For more than 40 years, Gap Inc. has been committed to improving education in the communities where we live and work. We are proud to participate in this White House initiative and expand our job training programs to more cities to support efforts to improve the economy. Our hope is that Gap for Community Colleges can be part of the solution to improve workforce competitiveness here in the U.S.," said Eva Sage-Gavin, Executive Vice President of Global Human Resources & Corporate Affairs.

Starting today, students at ATC will have access to the same comprehensive training curriculum given to Gap store managers. This is the first time Gap will offer this program outside of its own organization. The in-house developed Gap for Community Colleges program is designed to help students get ahead in the career of their choice. The workshop material covers job search preparation materials such as interview skills and resume writing, practical workplace skills such as managing people and setting priorities and how to effectively communicate in the workplace. Students also receive on-the-job experience with an opportunity to job shadow a Gap manager in a store.

"We believe that by sharing Gap's proven training curriculum, community college students will gain valuable skills and experiences that will help them be better prepared for their career goals. This is exactly what is needed to develop a strong talent pool for our stores and the communities where we operate," said Sherrica Hill, General Manager Gap Atlanta.

"Gap is one of the largest employers in the United States. We hope that by providing our students with access to the same curriculum given to Gap store managers, our students will be better prepared to join the workforce," said Alvetta Peterman Thomas, president of ATC.

In addition to providing tailored workshops, Gap Inc. is offering scholarship assistance and job placement opportunities. Students will be eligible for sixty-five $1,000 scholarships. (Scholarship eligibility is based on each community college's guidelines.) Gap will invite students to apply for a job and expects to hire up to 1,200 students from community colleges in 2011.

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Georgia Cyber Academy Unanimously Approved by State Charter Commission

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today (February 17), the Georgia Charter Schools Commission unanimously approved a charter for the Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA), the state's largest online public school. The approved charter enables GCA to expand its operations to grades K-12 to meet the growing demand from families across the state. The Commission also established an equitable funding level that will allow the school to provide more teachers and offer art, music, foreign language and other elective classes to its students.

"Today's decision gives thousands of Georgia students and their parents a new option for a first-class education," said Ryan Mahoney, chairman of the GCA Board. "We thank the Commission for recognizing GCA's strong track record in Georgia, and we look forward to welcoming new students this fall."

GCA is in its third year and currently serves over 6,000 students in grades K-9. The school has demonstrated consistently strong academic performance, student academic gains and high parent satisfaction. GCA also made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) the past two years.

GCA uses the award-winning curriculum and academic services provided by K12 Inc., America's largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online school programs for students in kindergarten through high school.

Prior to today's vote, GCA received a strong recommendation from the Georgia Charter Schools Commission review panel. The panel noted the school's strong and flexible academic program, which enables students to receive a customized education. The report also stated that the interview panel was "pleased to see the high academic performance of the GCA," noting that GCA students averaged more than one year of grade level growth in Math and Reading in all grades.

The Commission also cited the growing enthusiasm for GCA and the high demand for enrollment. The report stated: "GCA's waitlist for enrollment, which consistently numbers in the thousands, illustrates the demand for their services and the good reputation they are building among Georgia families seeking alternative educational opportunities for their students."

Online learning is one of the fastest-growing areas in education, according to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). Online public charter schools, like GCA, are growing steadily across the country as their popularity continues to rise with parents, students and educators. A national report titled Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning shows that more than half the states in the U.S. now have full-time online public school options.

More information about Georgia Cyber Academy can be found at www.k12.com/gca/.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Georgia Ranks 11th in the Nation on Advanced Placement Exams

Georgia ranks 11th in the nation in the percentage of seniors scoring a 3 or higher on Advanced Placement (AP) Exams, according to The College Board's AP Report to the Nation released today. This report measures progress of the class of 2010.

"Our students must have rigorous coursework in high school to be successful after they graduate,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “I am so pleased that more of our students than ever are taking AP courses and passing the exam.”

Advanced Placement classes and exams are administered by the College Board, which also administers the SAT. AP classes offer rigorous college-level learning options to students in high school. Students who receive a 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams may receive college credit.

The AP Report to the Nation looks at data for 2010 high school seniors. Among Georgia's public high school seniors in 2010:

* 19.1% scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam during high school. That is higher than the national average of 16.9%.
* Georgia is tied for 6th in the nation when comparing the five-year increase of seniors scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam (4.7% growth compared to 3.0% for the nation).
* Georgia has the 10th highest one-year increase of seniors scoring a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam (1.3% growth compared to 1.0% for the nation).

When it comes to public school students enrolling in AP courses and taking the exams, Georgia is also a national leader. Only four other states in the country had a greater percentage of AP exam-takers last year. The percentage of Georgia seniors who took an AP exam was 37.3%, compared to 28.3% for the nation. State Efforts to Increase AP Participation

The State of Georgia has undertaken many successful efforts to increase participation in AP programs and success on AP exams. Among the initiatives:

From 2003-2010, the Georgia Legislature approved funds to pay for students to take at least one AP exam per year. For those seven years, economically-disadvantaged students had all of their AP exams paid for each year.

The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) has organized the distribution of AP Teacher Training Grants. Since 2006, GaDOE has funded approximately $970,693.00 in grant awards to train 1,342 new AP teachers. These awards have allowed 792 new AP courses to be offered in public high schools throughout the state. It is anticipated that in 2010 an additional 400 AP teachers will be trained.

The GaDOE has sponsored regional workshops for teachers of AP for the past four years. These workshops are led by master teachers of AP in Georgia high schools. To date, over 2,100 AP teachers have participated in these course-specific workshops.

The Georgia Virtual Schools (GAVS) continues to add AP classes, increasing access to students throughout the state, including those that might not otherwise be able to take an AP class. In 2009-2010, 552 students enrolled in 21 different AP courses.

AP Honor Schools

Superintendent Barge also named today more than 350 AP Honor Schools.

"Georgia continues to see positive trends in Advanced Placement -- not only in the number of students taking the courses, but in the number of students having success," Superintendent Barge said. "Much of the progress we’re seeing in Georgia can be attributed to our AP Honor Schools."

The 2011 AP Honor Schools are named in five categories, based on the results of AP exams:

* AP CHALLENGE SCHOOLS: Schools with fewer than 900 students with students testing in the four core areas of English, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science
* AP ACCESS & SUPPORT SCHOOLS: Schools with 30% of AP test takers that are African-American or Hispanic and at least 30% of all AP exams scoring 3 or higher
* AP MERIT SCHOOLS: Schools with at least 20% of students taking AP exams and at least half of the AP exams scoring a 3 or higher
* AP STEM SCHOOLS: Schools with students testing in at least two AP math courses and two AP science courses (AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics B, AP Physics C, AP Computer Science)
* AP STEM ACHIEVEMENT SCHOOLS: Schools with students testing in at least two AP math courses and two AP science courses and at least 40% of the exam scores on AP math and AP science exams earning scores of 3 or higher.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SunTrust Foundation Awards $50,000 Grant to the University System of Georgia Foundation

UWG among Beneficiaries; Grant to Be Used to Establish “SunTrust Scholars” Program

The SunTrust Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to the University System of Georgia Foundation to implement the “SunTrust Scholars” program at the University of West Georgia and nine other Metro Atlanta University System of Georgia institutions.

Funding received will be used to enable students facing significant financial barriers to attend the 10 institutions.

The University System of Georgia Foundation will facilitate the implementation and evaluation of the SunTrust Scholars program.

“Educating more than 311,000 students each year is becoming increasingly challenging, especially in the tough economic times we face today,” said USG Chancellor Erroll Davis. “With corporate partners like SunTrust, more Georgia students will have access to a college education.”

In 2004, the USG Foundation developed a strategic plan to provide support for the University System goals and mission, setting a high priority on securing funding for and providing scholarships to deserving students, based on merit and/or financial need. Since that time, more than $1.4 million has been awarded to students at all 35 colleges and universities in the University System, with an additional $430,000 designated for need-based scholarships over the next three years.

The USG Foundation raised the award money through its annual event: the Regents’ Awards for Excellence in Education.

This is the first grant awarded directly to the USG Foundation to provide scholarships for students attending multiple USG institutions.

"One of the primary goals of the USG Foundation is to provide scholarships for students attending all USG institutions,” said Foundation Chairman Ken Bernard. “We are truly grateful for SunTrust’s support of the worthy effort.”

The SunTrust scholars will be selected by the institution, with the scholarship funds available to begin in the coming fall semester. The selected students will receive full tuition plus a stipend to cover a portion of additional expenses such as books and fees.

“We at SunTrust realize that a college education directly and positively impacts individual lives, benefits society, and promotes the economic viability of the state,” said E. Jenner Wood III, chairman of SunTrust Bank. “We are pleased to provide this grant award to benefit Georgia’s students and the institutions they will be attending.”

Seminary Students Offered More Flexible Program at Emory

Emory University’s Candler School of Theology is improving access to its Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program by switching to a two-day-a-week class schedule, creating commuter housing options, and offering online and hybrid courses. The changes will begin this fall for first-year M.Div. students.

“This initiative provides students with greater flexibility and accessibility while maintaining Candler’s outstanding academic offerings,” says David Petersen, associate dean of faculty and academic affairs and Franklin N. Parker Professor of Old Testament. “It gives them more time for their academic work and less time commuting.”

Courses Scheduled for Tuesday-Thursday

Under this new approach, first-year students will take required courses on a Tuesday-Thursday schedule and have the option of taking some courses online or in a hybrid online/classroom version. Students who live outside of Atlanta also may be eligible to stay overnight in nearby “commuter” apartments.

The new arrangement, widely endorsed by bishops and district superintendents within the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church (UMC), is especially appealing to M.Div. students who take part in Candler’s Teaching Parish Program. Students in the program attend Candler while serving as part-time pastors in small churches typically in communities outside metro Atlanta — even as far away as Alabama and Mississippi. They receive a salary and housing as part of their compensation, but their commute to campus for class can be daunting.

“These students have more complicated schedules. Not only are they responsible for the life of the church, but they are under the supervision of their district superintendents,” says Petersen. Accommodating these unique needs will enable more students to enroll in the Teaching Parish Program, he adds.

Part-time Housing Offered

Plans are also under way for Candler-subsidized, part-time housing at a nearby apartment complex for long-distance commuters who need to stay near campus a few days a week. The apartments are furnished and contain two bedrooms, each with two beds, allowing up to four Candler students to share the space.

“We want to provide commuting students an affordable and comfortable place to stay during the middle of the week so they can easily get to their courses, study in the library, and have access to all of Emory’s resources,” says the Rev. Shonda R. Jones, associate dean of admissions and student services.

Online Courses Are New Option

Selecting core courses that are available online and in hybrid versions is another new option for students, with the first courses going live in the 2011-2012 academic year. Additional online courses will be added each year during the next three years.

Michael Joseph Brown, associate professor of New Testament and Christian origins, is in the first faculty cohort that will develop courses for online delivery. He believes online components will improve his New Testament course by facilitating quizzes, exams, and other standard course mechanisms. “They free up classroom time for important dialogue,” he says. “Online classes are the way of the future in all of higher education.”

The Rev. Coy Hinton is one of several North Georgia UMC leaders who responded favorably to initial proposals about the new approach. “This seems like a win-win situation for these students and the churches they serve. Thanks so much for thinking creatively,” wrote Hinton, district superintendent of the Atlanta College Park District.

Adds Jones, “We want to make Candler’s high caliber theological education possible for all those who are called to serve. The new concentrated schedule, commuter housing and digital course offerings are the latest ways we’re demonstrating our commitment.”

Get more information about Candler’s Master of Divinity degree and the Teaching Parish Program.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Georgia State Board of Education Member Chosen to Serve on National Task Force

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) recently announced that Mary Sue Murray, a member of the Georgia State Board of Education, has been selected to serve on a year-long NASBE study group — Preparation, Evaluation, Continuation & Compensation: A State Policy Agenda to Enhance the Teaching Profession — to examine educator preparation and professional development, their job performance evaluations, and the impact of the Common Core Standards on teaching.

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) conducts annual study groups to provide professional development to members of State Boards of Education, set organizational direction and priorities, and inform the state education policymaking process on key issues. As a member of the 2011 national task force, Murray will meet with other state board members, researchers, and policy analysts to examine a series of issues at the core of teaching and learning.

Task force members will examine:

The preparation of new teachers—including the new model core standards for teachers by the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium—and ongoing support and recertification for experienced teachers in order to assure a new level of capacity for addressing the academic needs of contemporary students;
The methodology and implementation of comprehensive teacher evaluations in order to improve the performance of individuals and ensure the quality of the workforce;
Teacher compensation, including the linkages between teachers’ performance, knowledge, experience, and responsibilities and what they earn.

The study group will issue a comprehensive report in October 2011 at the NASBE Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA. The group’s policy recommendations will be disseminated to relevant stakeholders including members of Congress, federal officials, governors, chief state school officers, and local education policymakers.