E-Update for December 11, 2015

E-Update for December 11, 2015


  • Every Student Succeeds Act Signed into Law: On December 10, the President signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replace the No Child Left Behind Act. The law marks the first reauthorization of ESEA since 2002. During the bill signing, President Obama remarked on the bill’s movement away from a focus on standardized tests and the law’s focus on every student graduating prepared for college and career.
    • On December 9, the Senate passed ESSA by a vote of 85-12, with all no votes being cast by Republicans. On December 2, the House passed ESSA by a vote of 359-64, with all no votes also being cast by Republicans.
    • Read EducationCounsel’s summary analysis of ESSA here.
  • Congress Passes Short-Term CR: On December 10, Congress passed a short-term Continuing Resolution to extend funding for the federal government at current levels through Wednesday, December 16.  House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are continuing negotiations to resolve differences on outstanding policy riders that are being considered as part of an Omnibus Appropriations bill.
  • Oral Arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas: On December 9, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the second time in Fisher v. University of Texas, or “Fisher II.” EducationCounsel’s Terri Taylor discusses what the case should really be about in Inside Higher Edhere. More information about the case is available here.


U.S Congress

Senate Democrats Urge VA to Protect Veterans from For-Profits: Four Democratic Senators wrote a letter to Secretary of Veteran Affairs Robert McDonald to bring attention to two recently reached settlements between the Department of Education (USED), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and for-profit college company Education Management Corporation (EDMC). They urged the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to remain vigilant in protecting veterans from predatory for-profit institution recruiting tactics.
December 8, 2015

Senator Murray Highlights Early Learning in ESSA: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a statement noting that ESSA marks the first time the nation’s primary and secondary education law includes dedicated funding to support early learning. Specifically, the legislation establishes a competitive grant program for states that propose to improve coordination, quality, and access to early childhood education for children from low-income and disadvantages families.
December 8, 2015


U.S Department of Education

White House Releases Report on ESSA: The White House released a report of progress in K-12 education made under the Obama Administration. The report referenced increased high school graduation rates, states’ action on improving K-12 education standards, and various Obama Administration initiatives, such as Investing in Innovation (i3) and Promise Neighborhoods.
December 10, 2015

USED Releases 2016 National Education Technology Plan: USED released its 2016 National Education Technology Plan. The plan called for schools and districts to focus on six ideas to improve equity in education technology, including adopting high-quality openly licensed education materials, and improving technology-based assessments.
December 10, 2015

Small Business Innovation Research Program Inviting Applications for FY2016: USED’s Institute for Education Sciences (IES) provides funding to firms and partners for the research, development, and evaluation of commercially viable education technology products. The Fiscal Year 2016 “Phase I” Solicitation is a request for Phase I proposals for awards up to $150,000 for six months. These proposals are for the development of prototypes of education technology products to improve relevant student teacher, or administrator outcomes in education and special education settings. The deadline for submission is January 21, 2016.
December 8, 2015

USED Announces Grant Competition to Support Educators of English Learner Students: USED’s Office of English Language Acquisition announced the availability of $23.8 million for its National Professional Development (NPD) grant competition to support educators of English Learner (EL) students. The NPD Program provides grants for institutions of higher education, in collaboration with states or districts, to implement professional development activities that will improve instruction for ELs.
December 11, 2015

Secretary Duncan Speaks on Passage of ESSA: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered remarks at the Learning Forward conference on the Senate’s voting – and ultimate passage – of ESSA. He remarked on different priorities of the Obama Administration that manifested in the bill, including college- and career-ready standards, expanding preschool opportunity, and support for local innovation.  Also, earlier this week, the White House released a Q&A about the law, including a synopsis of the bill’s take on standards, accountability, preschool, and Title I portability. Read the Q&A here.
December 8, 2015



On December 15, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) will host a panel discussion on how nontraditional students can access more comprehensive financial supports through public assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and child care. Information and registration is available here.

On December 15, the Alliance for Excellent Education will host a webinar entitled, “The Graduation Effect: The Economic Impact of a High School Diploma.” In the webinar, panelists will discuss the beneficial impacts of increased high school graduation rates. Register here.

On December 17, Vicki Phillips of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will host an online conversation as part of the Let’s Talk series addressing the main issues teachers are facing and what they need to be successful. Dr. Phillips and her team will share lessons learned from the past 15 years of investing in education as well as findings from the first two Let’s Talk releases. Register here.


New Legislation

H.R.4191: United States Virgin Islands College Access Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep Plaskett, Stacey E. [VI] (introduced 12/8/2015)      Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.R.4221: To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to restore National SMART Grants for a certain number of award years.
Sponsor: Rep Carney, John C., Jr. [DE] (introduced 12/10/2015)      Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.R.4222: To direct the Secretary of Education to carry out a pilot program under which higher education savings accounts are established for the benefit of eligible secondary school students.
Sponsor: Rep Carney, John C., Jr. [DE] (introduced 12/10/2015)      Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce; House Ways and Means

H.R.4223: To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to reinstate the authority of the Secretary of Education to make Federal Direct Stafford Loans to graduate and professional students.
Sponsor: Rep Chu, Judy [CA-27] (introduced 12/10/2015)      Cosponsors (12)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce



Systematic Review of the Relationships between Principal Characteristics and Student Achievement: Conducted by IES, this systematic review of the relationships between principal characteristics and student achievement was created for educators, administrators, policy-makers, and other individuals interested in a comprehensive catalogue of research on relations between principal characteristics and student achievement. It synthesizes what is known about associations between principal characteristics and student achievement; specifically it summarizes the studies, highlights the effects found by the studies, and describes the steps of the systematic review process used. Key findings include:

  • The only randomized controlled trial study that addressed the relationships between principal characteristics and student achievement found that grade 8 students randomly assigned to have one-to-one conversations with the principal scored higher on the state English language arts test than students who did not have such conversations (Silva, White, & Yoshida, 2011).
  • All other studies provided correlational or descriptive information about the relationships between principal characteristics (including precursors, behaviors, and leadership styles) and student achievement.

 December 8, 2015

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