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For More Information: Watson Scott Swail (757) 430-2200


National Capitol Summit on Education and the New Administration


WASHINGTON, DC, January 28, 2009 — Over 150 people gathered in Washington, DC, today to attend the National Capitol Summit on Education and the New Administration, organized by the Educational Policy Institute.


During this second day of the National Capitol Summit, discussions about quality extended throughout the day’s discussions. Following an opening keynote talk by David Cleary, Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Children and Families, Office of Senator Lamar Alexander, a panel discussion was held on early childhood education. Moderated by EPI’s Dr. David Lopez, panelists frequently discussed the measurement of quality in educational settings. While quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) have gained prominence in many states, panelists debated what constituted quality in early childhood education and whether there were appropriate measures available to document quality.


Patrick Shields of SRI International moderated a panel discussion on teacher preparation, induction, and professional development. A central finding of educational research over the past 15 years has been the centrality of teacher quality in influencing student learning. Panelists, including George Washington University’s Dr. Mary Hatwood Futrell, described high-quality teachers as masters of both content and pedagogy, and challenged teacher preparation programs to better align their programs of study with the needs of school districts and states. Alternative licensure programs and incentive pay were debated as policy levers to improve instructional quality in high-poverty schools.


During the Summit luncheon, Pat Callan of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education described how the radically changing demographics of our nation, especially the rapid growth in the Latino and low-income populations, have challenged our current higher education system. He sadly noted that the United States is no longer the leader in educational access and attainment and, in fact, has one of the worst college completion rates in the developed world. Callan’s talk set the stage for the afternoon panel on college access and success, moderated by Chris Rasmussen of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, during which panelists discussed the importance of focusing not only on getting individuals into college but of paying attention to their success once enrolled.


Moderated by EPI’s Alex Usher, the day’s final panel on college affordability and student aid debated whether the current administration should fund both the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the expansion of Pell Grants. The panel also discussed the future of federal student loan programs, a discussion framed by the current economic crisis. Panelist Jane Wellman of the Delta Project noted that the current credit crisis presents a unique opportunity to make significant shifts in how loans are handled. However, she challenged her peers to seek ways to influence the cost structure in higher education rather than looking to changes in financial aid policy to address affordability. Panelists suggested finding ways to reward institutions which have found efficient ways to operate.


In closing the Summit, EPI President Dr. Watson Scott Swail announced a forthcoming Summit on STEM education, which will be held in Washington, DC, next October. A monograph based on this Summit will be released soon.


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The Educational Policy Institute is a 501(c)3 corporation based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with offices in Toronto, Canada, and Melbourne, Australia. The mission of the Educational Policy Institute is to “expand educational opportunity for low-income and other historically-underrepresented students through high-level research and analysis.” For more information on EPI, visit