Three main parts comprise the seal for the Department of Education (NCES' parent federal agency) - the tree, the leaves, and the sun rays. The U.S. Army Heraldry Directorate worked with the Secretary of Education to design the seal.
Former Secretary of Education, Shirley Mount Hufstedler, selected the seal's design in 1980. The Department Flag on which the seal appears was unfurled for the first time on May 7 at 3 PM on the South Lawn of the White House and in front of the Federal Office Building where the Department is housed.
You can also read about the current U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.