Colleges must protect free speech, but not when students feel unsafe

The new academic year is now well upon us with the return of hundreds of thousands of students to college this fall. And it’s a time unlike any in recent memory. The nation’s political divide is stark and conspicuous on campuses across the country where protests centering on issues of race, religion and free speech are rampant.


The Magic of College and Career Ready Approaches for Greater Equity, and 20 Ways to Advance Them through ESSA

Does the state set a clear “North Star” of the full array of college and career ready knowledge and skills through rigorous standards, goals, and high quality assessments? Does the state have multiple accountability measures, data reporting, and deeper diagnostic review processes that surface fuller college and career ready knowledge and skills, informed by things like performance assessments and portfolios across many subject areas, school climate measures, and accelerated coursework? Do the state’s school improvement strategies and direct student services priorities foster, for each and every student, the full range of college and career readiness and opportunities for them to direct and personalize their own learning?


Reflecting on What We Know About Diversity in Higher Education and the Consideration of Race in Admissions

The U.S. Supreme Court’s near 40-year history on the consideration of race- and ethnicity in higher education admissions (going all the way back to the landmark Bakke case in 1978) has shaped action by the U.S. Department of Justice and Education for decades–including in federal regulations, policy guidance, and enforcement resolutions (from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights).


Making the Most of the Opportunity to Engage

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).


Want Your ESSA Plan To Ensure Equal Access to Effective Teachers? Targeted Strategies Are Your Best Bet!

Want Your ESSA Plan To Ensure Equal Access to Effective Teachers? Targeted Strategies Are Your Best Bet!
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.

Rather than targeted strategies specifically designed to aid recruitment and retention in high-needs districts and schools, the Equity Plans most often speak to “rising tide” approaches intended to increase teacher quality generally in all schools.

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 […]


What Matters Now: A New Compact for Teaching and Learning

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.
“To prepare our students for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century, we must design our schools to energize and excite our students regarding the importance of learning. This calls for in-depth, collaborative teaching in healthy, safe, and sustainable schools organized for success – both in terms of architectural design and curricular engagement,” said The Honorable Richard W. Riley, Co-chair of NCTAF and former U.S. Secretary of Education under President Bill Clinton. “Such an environment is essential for our students to learn the necessary academic and so-called 21st-century skills – creativity stimulated by the arts and music, teamwork, […]


“This Is Not Your Grandfather’s NACIQI”; Takeaways from the June Institutional Quality Review Meeting

“This Is Not Your Grandfather’s NACIQI”; Takeaways from the June
Institutional Quality Review Meeting
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 […]


Start Your Engines: Why Pending, Draft Federal Regulations on ESSA State Plans Are So Important, And Five Things to Look For

In the days ahead, the US Department of Education (ED) is expected to publish its first proposed regulations under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This will likely include hundreds of pages of draft regulations and explanation on critical education policy issues under Title I of the Act, including federal requirements regarding state assessments, state accountability systems, and state-local supports for lowest-performing schools. But the proposed regulations will also address another critical topic that has gotten less attention – “consolidated state plans.”
These state plans are critical to the success of ESSA implementation, as they will likely define (at least in part) the contours of state (and local) implementation over the next several years, and will likely jump start ESSA activity. If done right, state plans will set expectations for leadership, coherence, impact, and continuous improvement in ESSA implementation. This is the first time in nearly 15 years that states must take a comprehensive look at their plans under federal law.
Here are five questions that stakeholders should ask as states and districts begin to develop their consolidated plans:

What is […]


President Obama signs Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

On December 10, 2015 the President signed the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA), which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This document provides a brief summary based on our legal and policy judgment of some key provisions in the 1061-page ESSA bill based on our initial read. The precise meaning and impact of ESSA will continue to play out through regulations, guidance, and implementation over the coming months and years – presenting both opportunities and risks on the federal, state, and local levels for improving education systems and outcomes for all students in the nation.