E-Update for the Week of August 6, 2018
- On July 27, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced the Louisiana Department of Education is the first state to be approved to use the Innovative Assessment pilot. The state will be piloting five exams over five years, with a focus on its English and Social Studies exams.
- On July 30, USED announced in the Federal Register its intent to establish a Negotiated Rulemaking committee which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The proposed topics for negotiation relate to the core function of accreditation, state authorization issues, the definition of a credit hour, direct assessment programs and competency-based education, and the clarification of requirements for and improvement of outcomes for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant recipients, among other topics.
- This week a budget analysis of the USED proposal to rescind the Obama-era “gainful employment” rule estimates the move would cost the federal government approximately $4.7 billion over the next 10 years.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):
USED Approves Louisiana to Pilot Innovative Assessments: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced the Louisiana Department of Education is the first state to be approved to use the Innovative Assessment pilot. The state will be piloting five exams over five years, with a focus on its English and Social Studies exams. The five initial school districts include Ouachita Parish, St. John the Baptist Parish, and St. Tammany Parish, as well as KIPP Public Charter Schools and Collegiate Academies in Orleans Parish. New Hampshire and Puerto Rico also submitted applications to leverage the ESSA flexibility, but have not yet received approval. The press release from the Louisiana Department of Education is here. The press release from USED is here. The USED approval letter is here.
July 27, 2018
The Senate began a brief recess on the evening of August 1. The Senate will return to legislative session on August 15.
Shelby Indicates Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill Could Be Considered Week of August 13: Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) indicated the Senate could consider a mini-bus (a combination of 2-3 bills), including the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) and the FY2019 Senate Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations bills, when the Senate returns on August 15. Chairman Shelby stated, “Next up is the Defense-Labor-HHS package. A package I know senators on both sides of the aisle are very eager to debate.” The press release is here.
On August 1, Roll Call reported that House Republican conservatives are considering a plan to block consideration of a Defense and Labor/HHS mini-bus in the House prior to the mid-term elections. The article outlined how conservative members, “fear enactment of the Defense and Labor-HHS-Education measures — the two largest appropriations bills with the highest priority programs for Republicans and Democrats, respectively — would leave conservatives with little leverage in a lame-duck session fight over immigration and border security.” The article is here.
August 1, 2018
The House began its August recess on July 30. The House will return to legislative session on September 4.
Senate Shows Concern on Issues Related to Family Separation: On July 31, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled, “Oversight of Immigration Enforcement and Family Reunification Efforts.” Related, on July 30, Chairman Grassley and Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter to the Inspectors General for the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (HS) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The Senators called for an investigation into reports of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse happening at U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and HHS detention facilities. The hearing recording is here. The opening statement by Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is here. The letter is here.
On July 25, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Azar expressing her concern with the Department’s efforts to address the impact of President Trump’s family separation policy on children separated from their parents. “Trauma affects children’s emotional, behavioral, and physical development, and without appropriate mitigation efforts, could lead to adverse health effects and even early death. I urge you to take action to address the separation and detention of children to limit the harm caused to their short- and long-term health.” Additionally, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter on July 30 to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar raising concerns with the validity of information provided by the Department regarding separated families. Ranking Member Murray requests the Department respond to her letter no later than August 8. The press release for the July 25 letter is here. Ranking Member Murray’s July 25 letter is here. The press release is regarding the July 30 letter here. The July 30 letter from Senators Murry, Feinstein, and Wyden is here.
White House and Administration:
Career and Technical Education Bill Signed Into Law: President Donald Trump signed into law H.R. 2353, the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act,” to reauthorize Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. A White House press release is here. The signature announcement is here. A statement by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is here. A floor speech by House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
Related to the bill’s signing, President Trump and USED Secretary Betsy DeVos visited Tampa Bay Technical High School to promote the legislation, and the Administration’s efforts to improve workforce development. The President stated, “Whether you’re a high school student or a late-career worker, there has never been a better time to learn a trade, hone a skill, or pursue your dreams.” The full remarks are here.
July 31, 2018
White House Outlines R&D Priorities for FY2020, Focuses on STEM, Workforce Development: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney and the Deputy Assistant to the President from the Office of Science and Technology Policy Michael Kratsios sent a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies outlining the FY2020 research and development budget priorities for the White House. The memo outlines STEM and workforce development as high priorities for the Administration. The memo reads in part, “An American workforce capable of succeeding in the 21st century economy will require adaptability to the increasingly technical nature of work across all employment sectors… Agencies should prioritize initiatives that reskill Americans for the jobs of today and the future. Education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), including computer science, will be foundational to preparing America’s future workforce, and should be integrated into instruction through application to real world challenges. Agencies should work to ensure the STEM workforce includes all Americans, including those from urban and rural areas as well as underrepresented groups.” The memo is here.
July 31, 2018
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Treasury Department Critiques USED Oversight of Federal Student Loan Program: The Treasury Department released a report titled, “A Financial System that Creates Economic Opportunities: Nonbank Financials, Fintech, and Innovation,” which criticizes USED and its oversight of the federal student loan program. The report states federal student loan servicing lacks minimum standards, and recommends USED create a “common servicing manual” that loan servicing companies can follow. Additionally, the report suggests states do have the authority to regulate companies that collect federal student loans, contrary to prior USED claims. The full report is here.
July 31, 2018
USED Plans to Reevaluate Student Aid Regulations: USED announced in the Federal Register its intent to establish a Negotiated Rulemaking committee which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The proposed topics for negotiation relate to the core function of accreditation, state authorization issues, the definition of a credit hour, direct assessment programs and competency-based education, and the clarification of requirements for and improvement of outcomes for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant recipients, among other topics. Also, on July 30, Inside Higher Ed reported on a conversation with USED Deputy Under Secretary Diane Auer Jones, who is responsible for the Department’s postsecondary education agenda, related to the upcoming Negotiated Rulemaking process. The Inside Higher Ed article is here. The notice is here. Comments can be submitted here. A statement by House Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
July 30, 2018
USED Accepting Applications for Open-Textbook Pilot Program: On July 27, USED announced in the Federal Register it will begin to accept applications for a new pilot program, included in the FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill, to increase the availability of Open Textbooks. The competition will provide grants to colleges and universities to create free online textbooks, often referred to as “Open Textbooks.” The notice includes three absolute priorities: improving collaboration and dissemination of materials through consortia agreements; addressing gaps in the open textbook marketplace, and bringing solutions to scale; and promoting degree completion, including the use of technology based strategies for personalized learning. The notice is here.
July 27, 2018
USED Rescinding Obama Gainful Employment Rule, Costs Government $4.7 Billion: The New York Times reported USED is planning on rescinding the Obama-era “gainful employment” rule. The regulation requires for-profit degree programs and vocational certificate programs at community colleges to demonstrate graduates of their programs were employed in jobs that would allow them to pay off their student loans, or else lose access to federal funds. In the memo obtained by the New York Times, the proposed rule would no longer bar colleges and universities from access to federal funds if they are unable to prove gainful employment, but data on graduate performance would still be made public through the “College Scorecard” website. Additionally, according to the required budgetary analysis of the plan to rescind the regulation, the elimination of the rule would cost an approximately $4.7 billion over the next 10 years. The New York Times article is here. The College Scorecard website is here. The budgetary analysis is here.
July 26, 2018
Federal Commission on School Safety:
School Safety Commission Explores Arming School Staff, Sessions Supports Leaving Decision to States, Schools: The Federal Commission on School Safety visited Lake Hamilton High School in Arkansas to explore the implementation of arming school personnel. During the visit, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated, “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to preventing school shootings,” and states and school districts should have the “flexibility and discretion” to “decide how to handle these situations.” Attorney General Sessions was the only member of the Commission to attend the visit. The webcast for the visit is here.
August 1, 2018
Internal Revenue Service (IRS):
IRS Release Guidance on Student Loan Relief, Education Savings Accounts: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a revenue procedure that stated forgiven private loans will not be counted as income. Previously, the IRS had provided relief to students with federal loans only. The decision comes after Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to the IRS requesting the relief be extended. Additionally, the IRS issued new guidance on the use of education-related refunds in a tax-advantaged education savings account. According to the guidance, the reinvestment of refunds into the savings plans does not count against beneficiaries’ contribution limits. This clarifies that tuition refunds or refunds from other qualified education expenses are tax-free if they are reinvested in a Section 529 plan within 60 days. The IRS procedure on student loan relief is here. The guidance on education savings account is here.
July 30, 2018
Upcoming Events (Congressional & Administration)
- On August 7 from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. MST, the Federal Commission on School Safety will hold its third public listening session in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The media advisory is here. The webcast will be here.
- On August 14 to 16, the DaSy Center for Early Childhood Development Centers (which is a national technical assistance center funded by USED), in collaboration with the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center, the IDEA Data Center (IDC), and the National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI), will hold its 2018 Conference on Improving Data, Improving Outcomes. The meeting will consider issues related to the development or enhancement of IDEA Preschool Grants and/or coordinated early childhood data systems, improvement of data quality, and the measurement and use of child and family outcomes data in order to make data informed decisions. Agenda, registration, and more information is here.
- On September 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST, USED will hold the first of three public hearings to discuss the rulemaking agenda for a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The proposed topics for negotiation relate to the core function of accreditation, state authorization issues, the definition of a credit hour, direct assessment programs and competency-based education, and the clarification of requirements for and improvement of outcomes for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant recipients, among other topics. The notice is here.
- On September 11 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST, USED will hold the second of three public hearings to discuss the rulemaking agenda for a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The notice is here.
- On September 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST, USED will hold the third of three public hearings to discuss the rulemaking agenda for a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which will prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The notice is here.
- On September 16 to 19, the 2018 National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference will be hosted by the White House Initiative on HBCUs in Washington, D.C. The focus of the conference will be “HBCU Competitiveness: Aligning Instructional Missions with America’s Promise.” Registration and more information is here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On August 6 at 9 a.m. the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will hold a workshop of the Committee on Applying Neurobiological and Socio-behavioral Sciences from Prenatal Through Early Childhood Development: A Health Equity Approach. The workshop will include panel discussions titled “Approaches to Promote Healthy Development During the Prenatal and Early Childhood Phases” and “Policy and System Changes for Prenatal-Early Childhood Development.” Registration and more information is here.
Publications (Congressional & Administration):
- On August 1, USED released the 2017 Preschool Development Grants Progress Update, which highlights data from the 2016–17 school year. The update indicates that over 14,000 additional children and 90 additional high-need communities benefited as compared with the previous year. The full update is here.
- On July 31, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the results of their study on principal attrition and mobility between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. The report found 82 percent of public school principals in 2015-2016 were in the same school the following year, six percent moved to a different school, and ten percent left the profession entirely. The results were from an analysis of the Principal Follow-up Survey, which samples public K-12 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The full report is here.
- On August 1, NCES released a report titled, “Literacy and Numeracy Skills of U.S. Men and Women.” The report is based on data from the 2012 and 2014 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Key findings include: average literacy test scores were not meaningfully different between men and women; men scored higher than women on the numeracy assessment; and men had higher numeracy scores than women across age categories and across educational attainment levels. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On August 1, the Institute for Higher Education Policy released a side by side analysis of key provisions of the House Republican and Democratic proposals for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, respectively H.R. 4508, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act,” and H.R. 6543, the “Aim Higher Act.” The analysis is here.
- On August 1, Education Next published a report on the effectiveness of instructional coaching titled, “Taking Teacher Coaching to Scale: Can Personalized Training Become Standard Practice?” The report conducted a meta-analysis of 60 studies on teacher coaching efficacy and found instructional coaching improves both instructional practice and student achievement, especially when compared to professional development and school-based interventions. However, the study also found that smaller programs were more effective than larger coaching programs. The report recommends four considerations when attempting to scale up existing programs: coach quality, financial constraints, standardization, and teacher engagement and school climate. The full report is here.
- On August 1, Axios released an analysis titled, “The college wage gap is real for Americans of color.” The analysis indicates college degree attainment, on average, results in higher wages, but gaps based on race still exist. White Americans with a bachelor’s degree experience a 29 percent increase in wages, compared to only a 15 percent increase for Black Americans and a 12 percent increase for Hispanic Americans. The analysis also indicates women with a bachelor’s degree, on average, have increased their wages by nine percent since 1978. The full analysis is here.
- On July 31, the Center for American Progress released an issue brief titled, “A Promising Model to Boost Retention for Part-Time Students,” which explores how learning communities can boost retention for part-time college students. The issue brief details the evolution of learning communities at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, MA, and considers the successes and shortcomings of each of the three different types: seminars, clusters, and professional studies The brief then explores the theory behind using learning communities to improve outcomes for part-time students and outlines the work that still needs to be done. The issue brief is here.
- On July 31, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research release a brief titled, “Single Mothers with College Degrees Much Less Likely to Live in Poverty.” The brief finds that single mother poverty rates were an average of 33 percent lower with each additional level of education. Only 14 percent of single mothers with a bachelor’s degree live in poverty. The full brief is here.
- On July 18, the Urban Institute published a series of data visualizations that depict federal and state spending on education programs. Key takeaways include the illustration of spending on children decreasing since 2010, and two-thirds of public spending comes from state and local governments. The publication is here.
A bill to create a new Federal grant program that provides grants to State libraries to allow schools with summer lunch programs to keep their libraries open for student use during the summer months.
Sponsor: Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for teacher and school leader quality enhancement and to enhance institutional aid.
Sponsor: Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
A bill to amend title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for teacher, principal, and other school leader quality enhancement.
Sponsor: Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)