E-Update for June 17, 2016

E-Update for June 17, 2016

Highlights

  • On June 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing to examine the implementation of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014. Witnesses included U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development Linda Smith, and parents, advocates, and practitioners in the early childhood education field.
  • On June 13, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) addressing student loan debt relief issues. The public comment period ends on August 1, 2016.
  • On June 13, House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to USED and HHS to encourage the agencies to collaborate in the administration of Preschool Development Grants (PDG).

U.S Congress

Senate HELP Committee Discusses CCDBG Implementation: The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing entitled, “Implementing the Child Care Development Block Grant Act of 2014: Perspectives of Stakeholders” to discuss the implementation of the CCDBG Act . Members and panelists discussed the benefits that the CCDBG Act provides for families and the challenges faced by states in implementing the new requirements. Questions from Committee members centered on increasing access to affordable, high-quality child care, serving at-risk populations, and clarifying the proposed rule regarding implementation of the CCDBG Act.
June 15, 2016

House Democrats Brief on Equity and Excellence: Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee Bobby Scott and Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) held a briefing entitled, “Equity & Excellence: Funding American Education.” The briefing featured members of the Equity and Excellence Commission, including Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Michael Rebell, Executive Director of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University; and Ralph Martire, Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.
June 15, 2016

Congressional Democrats Encourage Inter-Agency Collaboration for Early Childhood Education: Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray and House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Scott sent a letter to USED Secretary John King and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell to push for the agencies to work together in administering the PDG program as the program transitions from HHS to USED. The letter calls for both agencies to support states as they develop plans to improve access and quality in early childhood education and to ensure that grantees maintain a continuity of service.
June 13, 2016

USED and Senator Warren Examine Accreditor Practices: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to USED Secretary John King and Undersecretary Ted Mitchell recommending that USED revoke the renewal of recognition application from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), which is the largest accreditor for postsecondary institutions. In addition to the letter, Senator Warren also released a report entitled “Rubber Stamps: ACICS and the Troubled Oversight of College Accreditors.” The report examines the oversight practices of ACICS, including its continued accreditation of the now defunct Corinthian College. In a staff report also released this week, USED staff also recommended the termination of the federal recognition of ACICS.   Senator Warren’s report can be found here. USED’s staff report can be found here.
June 9, 2016

Administration

USED Addresses Student Loan Debt Relief: USED released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to set new standards for student loan debt relief. The proposed regulations clarify and strengthen relief for student loan borrowers who were defrauded by postsecondary institutions by significantly streamlining the relief process. The proposed regulations would also ban mandatory arbitration clauses within enrollment agreements, which are generally employed by for-profit schools, and many times prevent students from being able to sue an institution which they believe has defrauded them. Additionally, the proposed regulations require institutions whose students have poor loan outcomes to articulate this clearly to prospective students. The proposed regulations build on the Administration’s efforts to improve student loan borrower protections. The NPRM can be found here.
June 13, 2016

Student Aid Office Unveils New Data: To build on its efforts to increase transparency on the federal student loan portfolio and other financial aid metrics, USED’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced a series of updates to its data center. The updates include reports on new performance data on the federal student aid portfolio, including district-level Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates and the total fiscal year-to-date dollar amount recovered in defaulted student loans disaggregated by guaranty agency and collection type. The reports found increasing enrollment in student loan repayment plans, and that new defaults have slightly decreased as a percentage of recipients in repayment the previous quarter. All of the reports can be found here.
June 16, 2016

USED Releases Guidance on Gender Equality in CTE: USED published a Dear Colleague letter to clarify schools’ obligation to provide career and technical education opportunities to all students, regardless of sex or gender. The letter provides schools with examples of issues that may raise concerns regarding compliance with Title IX civil rights laws. The Department cited persistent gender disparities in certain fields, noting that the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act requires states to meet negotiated targets for participation and completion rates of males and females in programs that are non-traditional for their sex. The full guidance can be found here.
June 15, 2016

Administration Highlights Early Childhood Education Pay Gap: USED and HHS released a report entitled, “High-Quality Early Learning Settings Depend on a High-Quality Workforce.” The report highlights the pay gap between early care and education workers and non-early education teachers, noting that the low compensation of early care and education workers has the potential to undermine schools’ ability to attract and retain high-quality workers. The report found that wage gaps exist between workers with similar education credentials in early learning settings – such as child care, Head Start, and publicly-funded preschools – and elementary school teachers. The full report can be found here.
June 14, 2016

USED Highlights the Issue of Chronic Absenteeism: Underscoring an issue that the Administration has prioritized in its final year, USED published a new analysis on an interactive website on the issue of chronic absenteeism across all student groups. The analysis, which disaggregates data by geography, race and ethnicity, disability status, and school level, found that many unique challenges exist within the various subgroups which may contribute to a student’s likelihood to be chronically absent, causing the student to fall behind in their academics. The interactive website can be found here.
June 10, 2016

Administration Highlights “Pay for Success”: USED and the White House hosted a summit on the “Pay for Success” funding model, in which the government, philanthropic organizations, and private businesses partner to deliver services to students in need. Secretary King highlighted opportunities for Pay for Success models, as well as noted challenges with the use of such models, including the ability to show success and scalability. He also noted places for improvement, such as with delivering services to English Language Learners, and opportunities for innovation, such as in CTE.
June 10, 2016

Secretary King Commemorates DACA: Secretary King issued a statement marking the three year anniversary of the Obama Administration’s implementation of its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. He highlighted that over 730,000 young people have gained access to education and workforce opportunities as a result of the policy. He also noted that USED has released several resources to assist DACA students and their families in navigating the educational landscape, both in K-12 and higher education.
June 15, 2016

Events

On June 23, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Next Steps in K-12 Education: Examining Recent Efforts to Implement the Every Student Succeeds Act.” The hearing will include testimony from Secretary King, and is part of the Committee’s ongoing oversight efforts in the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. in 2175 Rayburn House Office Building. Live webcast and more information will be available here.

On June 22-24, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) will conduct meetings in which they will pilot a new effort to include questions about student outcomes during the accreditor recognition process. The committee, which provides recommendations to the Secretary of Education regarding the establishment and enforcement of criteria for recognition of accrediting agencies or associations, as well as the recognition of specific accrediting agencies or associations, will consider the renewal of recognition application for ACICS. The meetings will take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Crystal City in Arlington, VA from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A meeting agenda can be found here.

New Legislation

H.R.5481 : Ensure Responsible Borrowing Act
Sponsor: Rep Salmon, Matt [AZ-5] (introduced 6/14/2016)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.R.5487 : Student Loan Fairness Act
Sponsor: Rep Bass, Karen [CA-37] (introduced 6/15/2016)      Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce; House Financial Services; House Ways and Means

H.R.5502 : To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide alternative identity verification procedures for individuals applying for Federal student assistance, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Veasey, Marc A. [TX-33] (introduced 6/16/2016)      Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce; House Ways and Means

H.R.5503 : To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to prohibit institutions of higher education from denying students admission on the basis of immigration or naturalization status.
Sponsor: Rep Veasey, Marc A. [TX-33] (introduced 6/16/2016)      Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.R.5517 : To require States to distribute funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Lummis, Cynthia M. [WY] (introduced 6/16/2016)      Cosponsors (2)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

Publications

Advancing School Discipline Reform: The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) released a report exploring the latest research on school discipline and zero-tolerance policies, their effects on student achievement and engagement, and a range of more effective disciplinary strategies that could supplant them. The report discusses ways that state boards of education can work with state agencies to develop policies and support practices that strengthen the data collection, analysis, and stakeholder collaboration needed to implement reforms.

Chartering Turnaround: Leveraging Public Charter School Autonomy to Address Failure: The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released a report highlighting ways that state charter school laws can be used to catalyze school turnaround efforts. The report examines how autonomies related to staffing, curriculum, and general operations can be leveraged to convert low-performing schools into charter governance as an option for school turnaround.

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