Advancing ESSA’s goals – equity and excellence – will require as much attention to teaching and leadership as to accountability, standards, and assessment.  Learning Forward and EducationCounsel’s new toolkit, A New Vision for Professional Learning, helps states use ESSA to establish learning systems in schools that transform educator practice and improve student learning.  The toolkit includes an overview of ESSA’s provisions on  professional learning, checklists for states aligned to the five conditions states must establish to improve professional learning, and a number of new tools to establish a state vision for professional learning, examine current investments, and write a question in ESSA local plans that gets at the heart of professional learning that works.

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.


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.


February 21 2016
By Kathryn Young

One of the most common criticisms and downfalls of education reforms is that they feel like they are “done to” rather than “created by” the very communities they are intended to support. Yet, at this very moment, we have a golden opportunity to raise the voices of teachers, leaders, parents, students, and their communities and meaningfully include their priorities in state and local planning for reform through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Done well, stakeholder engagement can be a game-changer by helping to match important strategies for college and career readiness to the unique context of a community while creating longer-term public support for initiatives.


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