E-Update for April 15, 2016

E-Update for April 15, 2016


  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) focused primarily on whether the U.S. Department of Education (USED)’s draft regulations currently under consideration by the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee were in line with the letter and spirit of the law. Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) questioned Secretary King extensively around the draft regulations on ESSA’s supplement, not supplant provisions, which the Chairman believes are not in line with the law. The Negotiated Rulemaking Committee will meet April 18-19 to review updated draft regulations from the Department in an effort to reach a consensus on the regulations. Revised draft regulations for the third session can be found here.
  • The Senate Appropriations adopted Subcommittee allocations, including $161.857 billion for the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee. This is a slight reduction (0.17%) below the FY2016 allocation level, given the overall spending cap for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 and the pressures on the budget.


U.S. Congress

Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing on ESSA Implementation: The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing entitled, “ESSA Implementation in States and School Districts: Perspectives from the U.S. Secretary of Education.” Discussion centered primarily on whether USED’s draft regulations were in line with the sprit and intent of the law. Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) questioned Secretary King extensively regarding the draft regulations on ESSA’s supplement, not supplant provisions, which he viewed to be against the letter of the law. The Chairman’s statement is available here; the Ranking Member’s statement is available here.
April 12, 2016

Senate Appropriations Committee Adopts Subcommittee Allocations: The Senate Appropriations Committee adopted discretionary spending limits for each subcommittee, including the Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee. For FY2017, the Senate Labor/HHS Subcommittee allocation is $161.857 billion. This is a $270 million decrease (0.17%) below the FY2016 allocation level. The House Labor/HHS Subcommittee allocation is not yet public, as Subcommittee allocations in the House are currently only being made available as each bill moves through the full committee.
April 14, 2016



USED Takes Action to Reduce and Improve Tests: USED released a series of case studies demonstrating work that states and districts are doing to ensure fewer, better tests for students. USED also released for comment proposed priorities for the Enhanced Assessment Grant program, a competitive grant program for states to improve state academic assessments and reduce testing burden. The three proposed priorities are for applicants developing innovative assessment item types and design approaches, improving assessment scoring and score reporting, and conducting an inventory of state and local assessment systems to eliminate unnecessary, redundant, or low-quality tests. Comments on the proposed priorities are expected to be due on May 18. The case studies are available here. The proposed priorities are available here.
April 15, 2016

USED’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Concludes Second Meeting: USED’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee concluded its second meeting, where Committee members discussed topics pertaining to assessment and supplement, not supplant provisions in ESSA.  The Committee reacted to USED’s draft regulations – which were released on April 1 – and discussed topics such as the definition of “students with significant cognitive disabilities,” exemptions from testing in English for certain groups of students, and how to ensure Title I funding does not supplant state and local funding.
April 8, 2016

USED Issues Guidance on Leveraging Federal Funds for STEM Education: USED issued guidance to help states, districts, and schools maximize federal funds to support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. The Dear Colleague letter provides examples of how funding for ESSA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act programs can be used to support STEM education.
April 13, 2016

USED Takes Steps to Protect Borrowers with Disabilities: USED announced a new process to identify and assist student loan borrowers with disabilities who may be eligible for loan discharge.  USED has worked with the Social Security Administration to use data to streamline the process to identify eligible borrowers and reach out to them to inform them of their eligibility.
April 12, 2016



On April 18-19, USED will reconvene the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee to continue their consideration of USED’s draft regulations on ESSA’s assessment and supplement, not supplant provisions. The Committee will meet from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. More information about the meeting is available here. Materials for the meeting including revised draft regulations can be found here.

On April 18, Results for America (RFA) is hosting an event to release and discuss their 2016 Federal Invest in What Works Index highlighting the success and progress of federal leaders and agencies in developing and implementing evidence-based policies and programs. The event will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Newseum. Register here.


New Legislation

H.R.4933 : To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to change certain eligibility provisions for loan forgiveness for teachers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Takano, Mark [CA-41] (introduced 4/13/2016)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

S.2784 : STEM Opportunities Act of 2016 – A bill to ensure that Federal science agencies and institutions of higher education receiving Federal research and development funding are fully engaging the entire national talent pool, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Hirono, Mazie K. [HI] (introduced 4/12/2016)      Cosponsors (10)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

S.2800 : A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide an exclusion from income for student loan forgiveness for students who have died or become disabled.
Sponsor: Sen Coons, Christopher A. [DE] (introduced 4/14/2016)      Cosponsors (2)
Committees: Senate Finance



NCEE Releases Case Studies of Schools Receiving SIG: The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) in the Institution of Education Sciences (IES) released a report entitled, “Case Studies of Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants: Final Report.”  The report tracks the implementation of School Improvement Grants (SIG) in 25 schools and includes several key findings pertaining to teacher and principal turnover, professional learning, and district support for the examined schools.
April 14, 2016

How Much Can High-Quality Universal Pre-K Reduce Achieve Gaps?: This report from the Center for American Progress shows evidence from two large-scale, highly effective programs that suggests that a high-quality universal preschool program would significantly reduce racial and socio-economic achievement gaps at kindergarten entry. The report concludes that establishing a high-quality universal preschool program is a critical first step to creating equity in access to early education and ensuring that all children begin kindergarten with an equal opportunity to succeed.
April 5, 2016

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