E-Update for August 5, 2016

E-Update for August 5, 2016


  • Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) called for changes in the U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) proposed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regulations regarding the timeline for the implementation of accountability systems and identification of new schools for improvement.
  • Comments were due this week for those responding to USED’s proposed regulations on ESSA’s provisions regarding accountability systems, school improvement systems, data reporting, and state plans.


Sens. Alexander and Murray Request More Time for States to Develop Accountability Systems: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to USED Secretary John King to request that USED’s proposed accountability regulations be revised prior to issuing final regulations to allow states more time to develop their new accountability systems. In the letter, Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray recommend that, consistent with Congressional intent, states should be able to implement their new accountability systems in the 2017-2018 school year and to identify new schools for improvement in the 2018-2019 school year.
August 1, 2016

Sen. Lamar Alexander Issues Statement Highlighting the End of Waivers: Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander issued a statement marking the expiration of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers and highlighting the “end of the ‘Mother May I?’ era in K-12 education.” In the statement, Chairman Alexander noted that ESSA returns responsibility for K-12 education to states and districts and limits Secretarial authority to issue waivers.
August 1, 2016

Senate Democrats Express Support for USED’s Proposed Borrower Defense Rule: Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray and 19 Senators sent a letter to USED to express support for its proposed borrower defense rule and to suggest a number of ways to strengthen the rule to protect students who have been the victims of “unlawful, unfair, deceptive, or abusive” practices in higher education. USED’s proposed borrower defense rule would establish a new federal standard and a process for determining whether a borrower has a defense to repayment on a student loan based on an act or omission of a school. The comment period on the borrower defense rule was officially closed last Monday.
August 2, 2016


Comment Period on USED’s Proposed Regulations on Accountability, School Improvement, Data Reporting, and State Plans Comes to a Close: The comment period for USED’s proposed regulations on ESSA’s provisions regarding accountability systems, school improvement systems, data reporting, and state plans was officially closed on August 1. Comments are available here. USED received nearly 21,000 comments in response to the proposed regulations. The following are some highlights of those comments from Congressional members and organizations representing states, superintendents, and teachers:

  • Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray and House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) submitted joint comments on the proposed accountability and state plans regulations. Those comments are available here.
  • Several other key organizations submitted comments on the regulations, including the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the School Superintendents Association (AASA), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Governors Association (NGA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the National Education Association (NEA). An EdWeek compilation of various organizations’ letters can be found here.

In addition, EducationCounsel submitted comments focusing on how ESSA can be best implemented to help states and districts transform our education systems into learning systems that are continuously improving to provide full and fair opportunity and advance college and career ready outcomes for all students, particularly poor students, students of color, English learners, and students with learning differences and disabilities. USED will now consider public comments to the proposed regulations and potentially make changes based on this feedback.
August 1, 2016

USED Releases Guidance Highlighting the Importance of Behavioral Supports for Students with Disabilities: USED released guidance emphasizing the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities who need them. The guidance also clarifies that the repeated use of disciplinary actions may suggest that many children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports. The guidance document is available here.
August 4, 2016

USED Invites Applications for Enhanced Assessment Grants: Under the Enhanced Assessment Grants (EAG) Program, USED announced a new grant competition to help states access the resources they need to innovate and improve the quality of assessments, enhance reporting for parents, educators, and other stakeholders, and reduce redundant and ineffective tests. A pre-publication version of the application for new awards for the EAG Program was released in the Federal Register. Applicants will compete for $8.86 million in grants. Applications are due by September 22, 2016.
August 5, 2016

USED Announces TRIO Talent Search Grant Awards: USED announced $144 million for 459 new grant awards under the TRIO Talent Search program to improve college readiness. The five-year grants will provide disadvantaged youth with connections to high-quality tutoring and counseling services.
August 2, 2016

USED and HHS Release Fact Sheet on Expanding Access to High-Quality Early Learning Programs: USED and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a fact sheet on expanding access to high-quality early learning programs. The fact sheet highlights how states are improving the quality of early learning programs, in addition to enrolling more children from low-income families. Also, this includes state and national reports on progress made under the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant program.
August 1, 2016

USED Submits Final Teacher Prep Regulations to OMB for Review: Final teacher preparation regulations were submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, which is typically the last step before final regulations are issued (usually 45-60 days after the date of submission to OMB). In November 2014, USED proposed the regulations, which are focused on implementing accountability measures for teacher and leader preparation programs, but final regulations have been delayed as USED considered comments that were received in response to the proposed regulations.
July 28, 2016

USED and San Bernardino County Superintendent Reach Agreement Regarding Education for Students with Disabilities in Alternative and Juvenile Court Schools: USED’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) entered into a resolution agreement with the San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools to address findings that the county had discriminated against students with disabilities by lacking an adequate system to identify and evaluate students with suspected disabilities, failing to conduct individualized determination of student needs for students with disabilities, and failing to implement and provide services outlined in students’ individualized education plans (IEPs) .
August 5, 2016

State and Local

Eight States Collaborate to Support Social-Emotional Learning in Their Schools: Eight states are working in consultation with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) to create and implement plans to encourage social-emotional learning (SEL) in their schools through the two-year Collaborating States Initiative (CSI). As part of the CSI, and in collaboration with national experts, CASEL will develop the following tools to assist states developing SEL standards: a comprehensive set of free-standing standards for SEL with developmental benchmarks for preschool through high school; model policies, including consistent language and terminology, that can be used to help embed SEL standards throughout the education system; and practice guidelines and other tools to support implementation for preschool through high school.
August 1, 2016


On August 10, former U.S. Secretary of Education and EducationCounsel Senior Partner Richard W. Riley, Co-Chair of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), is hosting the release of the NCTAF report, What Matters Now: A New Compact for Teaching and Learning. The report calls for a new compact with teachers to capitalize on this moment to move toward more engaging and relevant teaching and learning for all students. The event will take place at 101 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC. RSVP here.

On August 15, EducationCounsel Senior Legal and Policy Advisor Terri Taylor will participate as a guest on Higher Ed Live, a higher ed-focused internet radio show. This episode will focus on the implications of the Supreme Court’s most recent decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin for colleges and universities that consider race in admission, financial aid and scholarships, and other enrollment policies and practices. RSVP here.

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