E-Update for December 4, 2015

E-Update for December 4, 2015



  • On December 2 the House passed, by a bipartisan vote of 359-64, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replace the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). All “no” votes in the House were by Republicans.
  • The next step in the process is for the Senate to consider the bill on the floor – which is likely to occur on Tuesday of next week as cloture was filed on December 3. A vote on passage could also occur on Tuesday.
  • If the bill passes, Congress will send it to the President for his signature into law.  The President is expected to sign the bill, if passed.
  • On December 9, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for a second time in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. In “Fisher II,” the Court is being asked to examine whether the consideration of race in undergraduate admissions can be sustained under the Equal Protection Clause and the Court’s prior decisions. Hundreds of “friends of the court” have filed briefs, including a broad coalition of colleges and universities, national organizations, business leaders, and state and federal policymakers in support of the University of Texas. EducationCounsel filed an amicus brief on the behalf of the College Board and other organizations, which underscores the importance of institutional mission and academic judgment, and provides a detailed examination of holistic review admissions processes.
  • A decision is expected from the Court by June 2016. For more information about the case, including analyses of prior court decisions and guidance for colleges and universities, please visit the website of the College Board’s Access & Diversity Collaborative, an EducationCounsel partner for more than a decade.


U.S Congress

Education Leaders Make Statements on House Passage of ESSA: House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued statements commending the bill’s fix to NCLB, restoration of local control, and affirmation of the principles of Brown v. Board of Education. Their statements are available here. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) also issued statements in support of the bill’s passage in the House. Chairman Alexander’s statement is available here; Ranking Member Murray’s statement is available here.
December 2, 2015

Senators McCain and Alexander Question Interagency Task Force on For-Profit Postsecondary Institutions: Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan criticizing the interagency taskforce on for-profit institutions. The Chairmen asked that both of their Committees be permitted to address the taskforce and requested more clarity on the purpose of the taskforce. The letter is available here.
November 20, 2015


U.S Department of Education

Secretary Duncan Commends Passage of ESSA in the House: Secretary Duncan released a statement commending the passage of ESSA in the House. He praised the bill’s requirement that students be taught to high, college and career standards, its annual assessment requirements, and its investment in quality preschool. The Obama Administration also released a statement of support and factsheet on the passage of ESSA in the House. The factsheet is available here.
December 3, 2015

U.S. Department of Education (USED) Enters Resolution Agreement with Township High School District 211 to Remedy Transgender Discrimination: USED announced that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Township High School District 211 based in Palatine, Illinois, after finding the district in violation of Title IX for discriminating against a transgender high school student by denying her access to the girls’ locker rooms. The case marked the first time the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) had found a school district in violation of civil rights laws over transgender issues.
December 3, 2015

USED Approves Renewal of Colorado’s ESEA Waiver: USED approved the renewal of Colorado’s ESEA flexibility waiver. In all, 42 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have received flexibility from the burdens of the existing law in order to support improved achievement in schools.
November 23, 2015

USED Delivers a Progress Report on the Borrower Defense (BD) Process: As part of the Administrations’ efforts to provide support and relief to former Corinthian students, Special Master Smith issued his second BD report detailing progress made on a several student debt-relief goals. Specifically, the report addresses the standards under which BD relief has been granted, details on the population of BD and closed school claims under review, and the USED’s progress in granting BD and closed school relief to eligible student loan borrowers.
December 3, 2015



On December 8, the Senate is expected to vote on cloture on ESSA with a vote on passage possibly later that day.

On December 9, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for a second time in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. More information is available here.


New Legislation

H.R.4158 : To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to reinstate the ability-to-benefit eligibility.
Sponsor: Rep Gibson, Christopher P. [NY-19] (introduced 12/2/2015)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce



Public School Teacher Autonomy in the Classroom Across School Years 2003-04, 2007-08, and 2011-12: This Statistics in Brief from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) examines a construct of teacher autonomy based on teachers’ responses to six questions regarding perceptions of influence over classroom instruction and classroom management. The brief focuses on how teachers’ perceptions of autonomy have changed over these three school years, as well as how levels of teacher autonomy vary across selected teacher and school characteristics.
December 3, 2015

Enrollment and Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2014; and Financial Statistics and Academic Libraries, Fiscal Year 2014: First Look (Provisional Data): This provisional First Look report from NCES includes fully edited and imputed data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) spring 2015 data collection, which included four survey components: Enrollment for fall 2014; Finance for fiscal year 2014; data on employees in postsecondary education for Fall 2014; and data for Academic Libraries for fiscal year 2014.
November 25, 2015

A Descriptive Study of the Pilot Implementation of Student Learning Objectives in Arizona and Utah: Approximately 30 states are now adopting teacher evaluation policies that include student learning objectives (SLOs), which are classroom-specific student test growth targets set by teachers and approved (and scored) by principals. This study from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) describes results of the pilot implementation of SLOs in two states—Arizona (with 363 teachers) and Utah (with 82 teachers)—that were implementing SLOs with the same aims: to positively affect student achievement and to fulfill the state’s required student-accountability component for teacher evaluations. Findings indicated that, in their SLOs, Arizona teachers tended to target student proficiency growth on vendor-developed tests, without including any specifics about instructional strategies, while Utah’s pilot teachers (over half of them special education teachers) tended to define their own SLO-focused instructional strategies and/or use their own classroom-level tests or rubrics, with goals geared toward students demonstrating knowledge (through project completion) or a physical skill.
November 24, 2015


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