On May 31, 2016, ED released its first round of proposed regulations regarding implementation of ESSA through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on accountability, school improvement, state plans, and data deporting. ED’s proposed regulations on ESSA Consolidated State Plans – just eight pages long – are likely to define the highest priority areas for ESSA implementation – that is, what every state will likely be required to do and will likely focus on most with its limited time and capacity.

This “essence of ESSA” presents both opportunities and risks. But importantly, it is still in development. In particular, between now and August 1, 2016, there is an opportunity to publicly comment and improve upon ED’s proposed regulations, including with regard to ESSA consolidated state plans. Final regulations (which will have the force of law) are expected in the fall. [Additionally, draft regulations including on assessments, the innovative assessment pilot, and supplement not supplant, are expected to be released this summer.]

On June 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court (the Court) announced its second decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which upheld the University of Texas’s (UT) race-conscious admissions program under federal law. Notably, in affirming prior Court precedent, the decision also provided significant insight regarding policy development considerations and key evidence, which should inform the efforts of public and private institutions that consider race in enrollment practices moving forward. This preliminary Q&A is intended to provide clear, concise guidance on important points and key takeaways to assist institutional and organizational leaders in crafting their immediate responses to the decision and strategies moving forward. After a brief review of the background and procedural history of the case, it answers 11 key questions that practitioners and policymakers may have at this time.


October 30, 2015
On October 26th, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas at Austin, and Texas State University hosted an event in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Higher Education Act.


July 14 2016
By Amber Saddler

Amber Saddler is a Policy Assistant with EducationCounsel where she works on a range of higher education and K-12 issues to help improve equity and education access for all students. She enjoys long walks on the beach and observing federal advisory boards at work.

Recently, I joined the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) and spent three very long and very exciting days in a hotel conference room in Northern Virginia while the committee made recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to continue or deny federal recognition to programmatic and institutional accreditation agencies wishing to serve as gatekeepers to federal funding under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.

Among the audience, there was great interest in NACIQI’s recommendation to ED to revoke federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). While ACICS was the only agency NACIQI is currently suggesting should have its recognition removed, many committee members made it clear that other accrediting agencies, especially the regional entities, should sit up and take notice of the “new sheriff in town.” Committee members from both sides of the aisle and from various higher education backgrounds agreed with the need for stronger enforcement of agency standards than had been in place in the past and that a new, more rigorous review process for all accreditors is the path forward for higher education.


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