On February 4, 2020, President Trump delivered his State of the Union address in which he highlighted some of the Administration’s accomplishments during his time in office, as well as laid out a plan for the upcoming year.  Specifically, the key themes from the President’s address included the strength of the economy; supports for working families, including paid family leave, school choice, and greater access to affordable child care options; and national security.  Additionally, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) delivered the Democratic response to the President’s address. Please find here EducationCounsel’s analysis of the President’s State of the Union address and the Democratic response.

On September 30, 2019, the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts rendered a decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. The plaintiff in that case (Students for Fair Admissions) challenged Harvard’s admissions policies and practices designed to advance its diversity goals as unlawfully discriminatory under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race and national origin by recipients of federal funds. The district court addressed and rejected four claims of discrimination raised by the plaintiff ultimately finding in favor of Harvard. SFFA has appealed that decision.

New types of higher education programs like coding boot camps are gaining prominence as a possible way to impart skills at a lower cost or shorter timeframe to completion. Students in many of these programs are not eligible to receive federal loans or Pell grants, and policymakers are beginning to consider whether these programs should be eligible to disburse federal student aid.

In light of recent litigation regarding the consideration of race in college admissions and the corresponding legal obligation of postsecondary institutions that consider race to evaluate and, where appropriate, pursue race-neutral strategies, this cross-walk illustrates ways in which evidence of neutral strategies and criteria have affected (and may affect) institutional action and court judgments.  This table should be read in conjunction with The Playbook: Understanding the Role of Race Neutral Strategies in Advancing Higher Education Diversity Goals.

Published in November 2019 by the College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative and EducationCounsel, and designed principally for enrollment policy leaders and practitioners, this guide provides practical information regarding potentially viable race- and ethnicity-neutral strategies and selection criteria (“plays”) that may advance institutional diversity interests, including those associated with race and ethnicity.


May 24, 2018

Secretary Riley reflects on successful strategies to transform schools in rural communities. Read more.


As I chat with my kids about their first week of school, I can feel their nervous excitement about new classmates and teachers, books yet unread, projects to come, and hidden talents yet to be discovered.  School systems and homes all across America share in this time of preparation and anticipation for the new school year.  Often less heralded, however, is the work schools and education systems do to look back at prior work and figure out how this year can be even better.   For example, at my children’s school, a committee of parents and teachers are starting the year with a backwards look at the newly-released state assessment scores.  We are asking ourselves what the data mean for the effectiveness of last year’s strategies and staffing.  We’ll use those insights to help decide what to keep or change this year and beyond.  It is just one part of a larger process of continuous improvement the school uses to learn from and improve its supports and strategies.

In many schools, fall is also the time for new school improvement plans under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  In most states, this is the first year of plan implementation, so there is rightly considerable attention to what’s ahead this school year and beyond – particularly in schools identified for low performance.  A key part of the improvement process, however, must be looking back at the school improvement “architecture” that states built or refined over the last several years to support and spur school improvement.  It is critical to study and learn how the architecture is working in practice and continuously improve it to make sure a state’s system is actually advancing effective school improvement.

Earlier this month, the College Board, NASFAA, and EducationCounsel released a new publication, Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity: Implications for Higher Education Financial Aid and Scholarship Policies and Programs.  This resource provides guidance to enrollment professionals around financial aid strategies and scholarship policies involving the consideration of race, ethnicity and sex that advance the institution’s diversity goals and are legally sustainable.


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