E-Update for the Week of August 13, 2018
- On August 10, USED announced it plans to rescind Obama-era “gainful employment” regulations, which require the elimination of federal aid to career education and certificate programs, including those specifically offered at for-profit institutions if the graduates of said programs maintained large amounts of student loan debt relative to their earnings.
- On August 8, Education Week reported that Arizona’s Roosevelt School District #66 is the only school district to apply by the July 15 deadline to use Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) flexibility in the 2019-2020 school year under the weighted student funding pilot.
- On August 3, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Trump Administration to restart the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):
USED Issues Guidance on Serving Homeless Students: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) published a letter that was addressed to McKinney-Vento and Title I, Part A state coordinators. The letter provides responses to common questions states have raised about changes made to the requirements for the reservation of Title I funds to serve homeless students.
July 30, 2018
Arizona School District Applies for ESSA Flexibility: Arizona’s Roosevelt School District #66 is the only school district to apply by the July 15 deadline to use Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) flexibility in the 2019-2020 school year under the weighted student funding pilot, according to Education Week. The weighted student funding pilot allows up to 50 school districts to consolidate eligible federal education funding with state and local funding in order to develop a student-centered funding system based on weighted per-pupil allocations for low-income and otherwise disadvantaged students. Recently, Puerto Rico’s island-wide school district was approved to use the flexibility for the 2018-2019 school year. Additional school districts that applied to use the flexibility in the 2018-2019 school year are: California’s Wilsona School District, Oregon’s Salem-Keizer School District 24J, Pennsylvania’s Upper Adams School District, and Indiana’s Indianapolis School District.
August 8, 2018
- On August 1, the Senate began a brief recess until next week. Following the disposition of a nomination on August 15, the Senate, according to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), could begin consideration of a mini-bus (a combination of 2-3 bills), including the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) and the FY2019 Senate Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations bills. Additional information will be provided as the Senate floor schedule is made public. The press release is here.
Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Discusses High-Quality Child Care: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) published an article in Medium promoting her recent conversation with Heidi Murkoff, who is the author of the What to Expect When You’re Expecting series of pregnancy guides. Ranking Member Murray spoke with Murkoff about the struggle to find and afford high-quality child care. In both the article and the video, the Ranking Member discusses a bill of which she is the lead sponsor, S. 1806, the “Child Care for Working Families Act,” which would support access to high-quality child care for low-income and moderate-income families. The video is here. The bill is here.
August 7, 2018
Democratic Senators Express Concern with Rescission of Affirmative Action Guidance: Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to USED Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressing their concern with the rescission of Obama-era affirmative action guidance in July. They assert that the rescission could result in fewer opportunities for underrepresented students. The guidance previously encouraged institutions of higher education to use race as a factor when making admission decisions. The Department rescinded the guidance determining it was an overreach by the agency. The Senators, in their recent letter, want to know if field guidance for staff has changed, and who was consulted before the guidance was rescinded. Nineteen other Democratic senators also signed onto the letter. The full letter is here.
August 6, 2018
- The House began its August recess on July 30. The House will return to session on September 4.
Democratic Representatives Express Concern with Religious Liberty Task Force: This week, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The letter expressed the Congressmen’s concerns with the Religious Liberty Task Force, and have requested a briefing on the intentions of the task force. The letter reads, in part, “We are also equally strong supporters of the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. Nonetheless, religious freedom has never been recognized to include the right to diminish the civil rights of others.” The letter is here.
August 8, 2018
House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Requests Information about Separated Families: This week, House Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services. The Ranking Member, in the letter, described how the departments had failed to comply with an earlier request he had made, in conjunction with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), requesting more information about children separated from their families at the border. The Ranking Member’s letter is here.
August 2, 2018
White House and Administration:
President Trump Discusses Prison Reform: On August 9, President Trump participated in a roundtable discussion focused on prison reform. The president was joined by U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry and U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. In his remarks, President Trump highlighted efforts to create jobs for formerly incarcerated persons, and H.R. 5862/S. 2795, the “First Step Act,” which expands vocational training to federal incarcerated persons.
August 9, 2018
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED Proposes Rescission of Gainful Employment Regulations: USED announced it plans to rescind Obama-era “gainful employment” regulations. Previously, the regulations required the elimination of federal aid to career education and certificate programs, including those specifically offered at for-profit institutions, if the graduates of said programs maintained large amounts of student loan debt relative to their earnings. On Friday, however, the Department published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), confirming it intends to repeal the regulations. The Department announced, previously, it intends to still monitor and publish data on gainful employment of graduates, which would be an expansion of current reporting. The programs, nonetheless, will still be eligible for federal aid regardless of graduate outcomes. The Department will post the data on the College Scorecard website. Public comment will be accepted on the proposal for 30 days after it is officially published. An Inside Higher Ed article on the proposal announcement is here.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) released a statement in response to the proposal. “The Trump administration’s decision to eliminate – rather than revise or replace – the Gainful Employment rule is yet another example of its willingness to prop up low-quality for-profit colleges at the expense of students and taxpayers. According to the Education Department’s own analysis, this decision will cost taxpayers nearly $5 billion in federal financial aid, which will go to college programs that have failed to meet the existing standards and would have otherwise closed.” Ranking Member Scott’s full statement is here.
Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a statement in response to the proposal. “The gainful employment rule empowers students to make meaningful choices about their education and employment opportunities—and yet Secretary DeVos is proposing to completely abandon this common-sense and effective consumer protection that helps students decide whether a career training program is worth the investment, and would hold predatory for-profit colleges and career training programs accountable for leaving students with extensive debt they cannot repay. Her extreme proposal to rescind this rule is further proof that there is no line Secretary DeVos won’t cross to pad the pockets of for-profit colleges—even leaving students and taxpayers to foot the bill.” Ranking Member Murray’s full statement is here.
Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a statement in response to the proposal. “Secretary DeVos’s regulation proposes to end a clumsy rule that consumed 945 pages to define two words in the higher education law and targeted just one segment of our 6,000 colleges and universities. This reset gives Congress an opportunity to create a more effective measure of accountability for student debt and quality of institutions. My own view is that Congress should focus on repayment rates—whether borrowers are actually paying back loans—rather than the current “default rate” which measures only whether students have not paid back their loans for 270 days or more.”
August 10, 2018
Concerns Raised with NPRM on Borrower Defense to Repayment Regulations: The Project on Predatory Student Leading, based within the Harvard Law School Legal Services Center, sent a letter to USED in response to a NPRM, which was published on July 31, related to “borrower defense to repayment” regulations. Borrower defense to repayment rules previously allowed student borrowers to seek relief from student loan payments due to fraud or other misrepresentation by their college or university. The newly proposed regulations, which were published in July, would still allow for these claims, but would make the standards stricter for student borrowers. The letter details an error made in the NPRM from July. The group describes the Department having accepted “affirmative” borrower defense claims before 2015, contrary to the details within the NPRM. An “affirmative” defense claim can be made even if the student is not in repayment, forbearance, or default. The group requests the Department withdraw the NPRM, correct it, and resubmit it. The letter is here.
Related to the NPRM, POLITICO reported various groups representing veterans and military service-members have also expressed their concern with the recent Department proposal to rescind borrower defense to repayment rules. Specifically, the groups are concerned with the potential implementation of “defensive claims,” meaning student borrowers would only be able to apply for debt relief once they have defaulted on their loans. According to the Military Officers Association of America, going into default would cause service-members and veterans to face a “significant risk” when applying for security clearances. Will Hubbard, Vice President of Government Affair at the Student Veterans of America stated the proposal would “directly harm” military service-members and veterans. The article is here.
August 2, 2018 and August 9, 2018
Federal Commission on School Safety:
Commission Holds Third Listening Session: The Federal Commission on School Safety held its third public listening session in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Wyoming and South Dakota are among a handful of states that let school districts decide whether to let teachers carry guns; however, officials told the school safety commission at the session that few school districts have taken advantage of state laws to train and arm teachers. According to a report by the Education Commission of the States, at least eight states have policies that allow school personnel, other than school resource officers, to carry firearms. The webcast is here. An article by U.S. News and World Report is here. An article by POLITICO is here.
August 7, 2018
U.S. District Court Rules in Favor of Transgender Student: A federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled a 17-year-old transgender male student should have access to the boys’ bathroom. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the school district on behalf of the student in February. The judge ruled the school district’s barring of the boy’s bathroom access violated Equal Protection Clause and Title IX.
August 7, 2018
U.S. District Court Orders Restart of DACA: A federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Trump Administration to restart the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The judge said the order would be delayed until August 23 to allow for the government to appeal.
August 3, 2018
Upcoming Events (Congressional & Administration)
- On August 14 to 16, the DaSy Center for Early Childhood Development Centers (which is a national technical assistance center funded by USED), in collaboration with the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center, the IDEA Data Center (IDC), and the National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI), will hold its 2018 Conference on Improving Data, Improving Outcomes. The meeting will consider issues related to the development or enhancement of IDEA Preschool Grants and/or coordinated early childhood data systems, improvement of data quality, and the measurement and use of child and family outcomes data in order to make data informed decisions. Agenda, registration, and more information is here.
- On August 16 at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations will hold a hearing titled, “Oversight of Efforts to Protect Unaccompanied Alien Children from Human Trafficking and Abuse.” Witness have not yet been announced. More information on the hearing is here.
- On August 16 at 1:30 pm, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) administration is hosting a federal policy update webinar for counselors, mentors, and college access professionals. The webinar will offer information about the 2019–2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form changes as well as updates regarding the Federal Pell Grant Program, verification, gainful employment, and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. More information can be found here.
- On August 17 at 10:00 am, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a public business meeting. Included in the meeting will be a discussion and vote on the Commission’s report titled, “Contemporary Civil Rights Challenges: A View from the States, 2018 Survey of the State Advisory Committees.” The notice and agenda are here.
- On August 21 at 10:00 am, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will hold a hearing titled, “Examining CMS’s Efforts to Fight Medicaid Fraud and Overpayments.” Witness have not yet been announced. More information is here.
- On August 23 at 1:00 pm, the Center for Faith and Opportunities Initiatives will be hosting a webinar titled, “Resources to Aid Citizens Returning from the Prison System.” The webinar will feature speakers from the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) and the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) and provide faith and community leaders with resources to aid citizens returning from the prison system as they navigate FAFSA and career, technical, and apprenticeship opportunities.
- On September 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST, USED will hold the first of three public hearings to discuss the rulemaking agenda for a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The proposed topics for negotiation relate to the core function of accreditation, state authorization issues, the definition of a credit hour, direct assessment programs and competency-based education, and the clarification of requirements for and improvement of outcomes for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant recipients, among other topics. The notice is here.
- On September 11 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST, USED will hold the second of three public hearings to discuss the rulemaking agenda for a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The notice is here.
- On September 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST, USED will hold the third of three public hearings to discuss the rulemaking agenda for a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The notice is here.
- On September 16 to 19, the 2018 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference will be hosted by the White House Initiative on HBCUs in Washington, D.C. The focus of the conference will be “HBCU Competitiveness: Aligning Instructional Missions with America’s Promise.” Registration and more information is here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On August 14 at 10:00 am, the Learning Policy Institute, Coalition for Community Schools, and Communities in Schools is hosting an event titled, “From Community Schools to Community Districts: Building Systems for Student Success.” The event will focus on how community schools can be implemented at scale and how local and state education policy can support their implementation. Registration and more information is here.
- On August 15, at 3:00 pm, the Coalition for Community Schools Coordinators Network will hold a webinar titled, “Untapped Resources: Leveraging ESSA and other Federal Support for Community Schools.” More information is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On August 10, Mathematica Policy Research and Vanderbilt University published a joint study titled, “A New Role Emerges for Principal Supervisors: Evidence from Six Districts in the Principal Supervisor Initiative.” The study was commissioned by the Wallace Foundation and explored the impact of the foundation’s four-year, $24 million “Principal Supervisor Initiative” (PSI). The study found that PSI districts revised the job description of the principal supervisors to focus on developing instructional leadership and supporting principals; reduced the number of principals each supervisor oversaw and created networks of principals; developed systematic training programs to develop supervisors’ skills; implemented apprenticeship programs to prepare future principal supervisors; and reconfigured central office functions and relationships to support the new supervisor role. The full report is here.
- On August 9, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management published an updated version of the “Impact of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program: Achievement Effects for Students in Upper Elementary and Middle School.” In the most recent version of the study, researchers found an initial decrease of math achievement for students participating in the scholarship program persisted beyond the students’ first year, and length of time spent in a private school had no reversing effect. The study also codified previous research that a student transferring to a private school had no significant effects on English/Language Arts achievement. The full study is here.
- On August 9, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released a report titled, “Strengthening Reading Instruction through Better Preparation of Elementary and Special Education Teachers.” The report examined state policies and regulations on teacher preparation programs, specifically focused on integration of the science of reading development. The report finds that only 37 teacher preparation programs explicitly teach the science of reading development in their curriculum. Only 11 states assess special education teacher candidates and their knowledge of the science of reading. The full report is here.
- On August 8, the RAND Corporation released a report titled, “Aligned Curricula and Implementation of Common Core State Mathematics Standards.” The report examined teacher instructional materials from across the country, and analyzed teacher’s understanding of math standards, in addition to comparing both to the Common Core State Standards. Key findings of the study include: most materials teachers reported using were not highly aligned to the standards; the majority of teachers were able to identify standards-aligned topics; and, over one-third of teachers reported their students engaged in various standards-aligned practices. The full report is here.
- On August 8, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston released a report titled, “Disinvesting in the Future? A Comprehensive Examination of the Effects of State Appropriations for Public Higher Education.” The study examined the impact of decreases in state appropriations for public institutions of higher education. Key findings of the study include evidence to suggest that cuts in state funding negatively impact public institutions; when states cut funding, institutional grants increase slightly for public doctoral institutions, but students at public master’s institutions are more likely to receive federal grants and students loans; state funding cuts have a negative impact on all expenditure functions, regardless of institutional type; and cuts in state funding negatively impact degree completion at all levels, with a more significant impact for community colleges. The full report is here.
- On August 8, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a report titled, “Transfer and Mobility: A National View of Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2011 Cohort.” The study examined degree completion rates of students who began at two-year institutions. The study found only 60,000 out of over 1 million students transferred after receiving an associate’s degree or certificate. This compares to the over 350,000 students who transferred without a degree. Additionally, the study found White and Asian students were more likely to transfer into a four-year institution, compared to Black and Hispanic students. The full study is here.
- On August 8, Third Way published a report titled, “Want More Students To Pay Down Their Loans? Help Them Graduate.” The report examined data on student loan repayment and defaults to understand the differences between students who drop out of degree programs compared to students who complete. The report found that students who complete college are more likely to begin paying their loans compared to those students who do not complete their program. The full report is here.
- On August 7, Real Clear Education published a piece by Frederick Hess and RJ Martin titled, “The Right Way Forward on College Completion.” The article describes a series of recommendations on how to improve college completion rates. The authors suggest colleges can offer holistic financial and academic support to disadvantaged students; colleges can coach students to maintain a long-term vision of success and offer mentoring services; and colleges can provide emergency aid to students at-risk of dropping out. Overall, the authors suggest college completion can be improved without mandates from national policy. The full article is here.
- On August 6, the Education Commission of the States released a policy analysis titled, “Opening Credits: An Introduction to PLA Policies.” The analysis reviews state policies regarding prior learning assessments (PLA), which allow students to earn college credit for their knowledge and experience gained outside of the classroom. Such assessments are often beneficial for adult and military students. The analysis finds there are four common factors across successful state policies: informing students of PLA opportunities and requirements; assessing student knowledge; recording academic credits; and collecting and reporting data. The full analysis is here.
- On August 2, the Brookings Institution published an analysis titled, “Clusters of black STEM graduates offer a map for future investment.” The author examined the concentration of black graduates with STEM degrees in cities across the country and found San Francisco, CA (43.7%), Alexandria, VA (43.5%), San Jose, CA (42.8%), and Seattle, WA (41.2%) had the highest concentration of black graduates with bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering, compared to all black graduates with a bachelor’s degree. The full analysis is here.
- On August 1, the University of Texas (UT) published the outcomes of its “Dual Credit and Success in College” study. The study investigated the impact dual credit programs had on graduation rates and student debt. Key findings include: dual credit students are more likely to be retained and graduate from a UT system school and have higher GPAs their first three years. Additionally, the study found dual credit did not have an impact on student loan debt, unless the students had entered with 60 or more dual credit hours. The full study is here.
- The American Educational Research Association (AERA) released a report titled, “School Improvement Grants in Ohio: Effects on Student Achievement and School Administration.” Using a regression discontinuity model, the study found Ohio’s school improvement grant (SIG) program increased math and reading achievement by 0.20 standard deviations in the second year after SIG eligibility identification. The full study is here.