In this paper, we examine the higher education regulatory triad (consisting of states, accrediting agencies, and the federal government) and its role in guaranteeing institutional quality for the millions of students receiving billions of dollars in federal student aid, paying particular attention to the state’s role in authorizing institutions of higher education as the sector expands dramatically beyond the scope of the triad as originally envisioned. The paper first parses the relationship between state authorization and non-governmental accreditation processes, and the various state approaches to the authorization role and function. The paper then explores the history and evolution of the state role in the establishment of institutions of higher education and their oversight, including attempts at reforming the regulatory framework as the sector grew to include more institutions with new missions and methods of delivery, and became the recipient of greater student and taxpayer investment. The paper concludes by articulating the need for enhanced state authorization standards in this new era of educational growth and offers a series of policy recommendations and questions for state and federal lawmakers to consider as we near a potential reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

This memo describes the upcoming presidential and administration transition process and how organizations can build a strategy to best maximize opportunity and minimize risk regarding key education priorities.  The memo is based on several resources, including the direct experience of EducationCounsel leadership in serving on prior presidential transition teams and closing out prior administrations.  It focuses specifically on the presidential and administration transition, including the White House and U.S. Department of Education.


August 11, 2016

On August 10th, 2016, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) released the report What Matters Now: A New Compact for Teaching and Learning.


What Matters Now makes a compelling case for changes to the current education system in order to educate all students well. By documenting systemic issues, such as teacher turnover and a burgeoning student achievement gap, the Commission points out that there is new knowledge and research that supports developing a system that is more flexible, innovative, and customized.


September 15 2016
By Sandi Jacobs

One perspective on teacher quality and the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) holds that ESSA marks an end to the federal focus on teacher effectiveness strategies that developed and grew over the last decade. With no explicit requirements in Title II and released from the conditions of their NCLB waivers, this argument holds, states will hastily retreat from new teacher evaluation systems and reforms in other related areas such as teacher preparation, tenure, licensure, and compensation.

But whether or not you believe that federal policy has been the major driver of states’ teacher efforts over the last decade, this point of view undersells a very significant point in ESSA, one that potentially makes teacher quality an even more important topic going forward.  ESSA doesn’t roll back at all the mandate that states focus on the equitable distribution of teachers; in fact, it pushes it forward. States must now go beyond looking at teacher qualifications and experience as required by NCLB, and specifically ensure that disadvantaged students have equal access to effective teachers.


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