LatestCounsel

Building Back Better: Ensuring Equitable Funding for the Students Who Need it Most

May 28, 2020
Cathy Holahan & EducationCounsel
The K-12 public education system has a long way to go towards providing truly equitable student experiences and outcomes for students — ones that prepare them to thrive in school and beyond. We know that in order to create equitable learning environments we must aspire to a number of key characteristics for schools — including culturally affirming curriculums, safe and empowering climates, and flexible designs that meet the needs of all learners.

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The CARES Act: Five Things that School and District Leaders Need to Know Now

April 30, 2020
Sean Worley, Scott Palmer

The following was created in partnership with the Wallace Foundation and originally appeared on their blog on April 23, 2020.
The newly enacted federal law in response to the coronavirus crisis provides more than $30 billion for K-12 and higher education programs; more than $4 billion for early childhood education; and other supports such as forgivable loans to nonprofits, including many providers of afterschool or summer programs. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act comes at a moment when many states and districts are closing schools while seeking to continue to educate students, out-of-school-time programs are pondering how best to offer services and summer is fast approaching.
To assist decision makers, this post summarizes five things that school and district leaders should know about the major education provisions in the CARES Act. It also contains information pertaining to nonprofits.

The $2.3 trillion CARES Act provides new, one-time funding for states, districts and schools—based in part on poverty but with significant flexibility regarding where funds are used.

The law includes a $30.75 billion Education Stabilization Fund divided into three parts and meant to provide initial […]

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Lessons Learned, or Lost?

September 6, 2019
Kathryn Young

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 […]

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Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity

June 26, 2019
Art Coleman and Jamie Lewis-Keith

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.
Financial aid and scholarship policies and practices are subject to the same federal nondiscrimination laws as admissions programs, but unlike admissions, they have not generated significant attention or been the subject of Supreme Court decisions.  Notably, the current legal landscape now involves an increased number of federal litigation and agency enforcement claims that reflect an expanded scope (beyond admissions), including allegations of race and sex discrimination in financial aid, as well as co-curricular and similar programs.
Advancing the diversity-associated mission of institutions of higher education requires attending to the imperatives of good policy and legal sustainability.  This guide seeks to elevate awareness of how to do that, with a focus on financial aid and […]

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Taking a Holistic Look at Higher Ed Admissions

December 13, 2018
Art Coleman

I’m very pleased to share that the College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative today released “Understanding Holistic Review in Higher Education Admissions: Guiding Principles and Model Illustrations.” The guide provides insights into the logic, rigor, and fairness behind effective holistic review–a practice that is under attack in a growing number of court and agency actions. My co-author and EducationCounsel colleague Jamie Lewis Keith and I hope that we’ve helped open the “black box” of admissions decision-making, with an overview of the key features and elements of well-designed holistic review policy and practice. We include institutional examples and promising models that illustrate effective and sustainable practices. We also argue for more transparency on these issues. Over time, our challenges are not only in the courts of law, where we’ve won more than we’ve lost. We’ve got to do a better job in the court of public opinion–explaining the compelling case of what admissions officials do, and why, every day. #diversity #affirmativeaction #admissions

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Are we EQUIPped to spend billions on (yet) unproven programs?

April 17, 2018
Nathan Arnold
In the 1940s, Russia developed a prototype of a new military advancement called the Antonov A-40. It was an ambitious, seemingly innovative leap forward that would provide battlefield support and overwhelming, agile deployment. It was also, quite literally, a flying tank. For reasons that seem obvious in retrospect—weight and inefficient transportation chief among them—it was not functional in practice and thankfully never produced at wide scale. However, the lessons learned regarding its design ultimately provided beneficial advances to future military developments.
Federal lawmakers would be wise to heed the lesson that all ideas—particularly those with billions of dollars at stake—should not be rushed into wide-scale production. Many of them seem eager to open the $130 billion per year of taxpayer funding to new ways of providing higher education instruction without any assurance that these programs provide quality outcomes to their students. It’s still too early to tell if these innovative models will turn out to be the Antonov A-40 or the (significantly more effective) Chinook helicopter of higher education, but it’s not hard to see the potential […]

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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).

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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).

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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 […]

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“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 […]

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