E-Update for February 5, 2016

E-Update for February 5, 2016


On February 4, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced its intention to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee prior to publishing proposed regulations for Title I-Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Published in the Federal Register, the notice stated that committee members could be drawn from communities affected significantly by the topics proposed for negotiations, including federal, State, and local education administrators, tribal leaders, parents and students, teachers, principals, other school leaders, paraprofessionals, members of State and local boards of education, the civil rights community, and more. The negotiated rulemaking committee will examine two issues: (1) preparing proposed regulations that would update existing assessment regulation to reflect changes to section 1111(b)(2); and (2) preparing proposed regulations related to section 1118 regarding the new supplement, not supplant framework.


U.S Congress

Senate Democrats Highlight the Student Loan Debt Crisis: The Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee held a forum on college affordability and the student debt crisis. The forum focused on the testimony of students with significant student loan debt, while members spoke to the importance of finding solutions, including through their recently introduced Reducing Educational Debt (RED) Act. During the forum, current and former students talked about how student loans have impacted them and painted a picture of the issues that they are facing, ranging from ability to afford college from one semester to the next to the burden of student debt that they face upon graduation.
February 3, 2016

House Education and the Workforce Committee Highlights School Choice: The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing entitled “Expanding Educational Opportunity Through School Choice.” The goal of the hearing was to learn about how states and local communities are working to expand school choice in their communities. Witnesses included representatives from the American Enterprise Institute, a State Representative from North Carolina, a Professor of Education and Public Policy from Columbia University, and a graduate student who was once herself a beneficiary of a scholarship that allowed her to attend a private school. Chairman of the Committee Rep. John Kline (R-MN) noted in his statement the importance of having robust school choice options in states, while highlighting provisions in ESSA that promote school choice. Chairman Kline’s statement can be found here.
February 3, 2016

House Government Oversight and Reform Committee Examines USED CIO and Data Security : The House Government Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing to discuss the conduct of Dr. Danny Harris, the Chief Information Officer (CIO)  for USED, and to review the security and state of USED’s information systems. In addition, Acting Secretary of Education John King provided testimony at the hearing regarding an Inspector General report on Mr. Harris’ actions. The Committee found that USED holds a large amount of private data and may still be vulnerable to security threats.
February 2, 2016

Senator Barbara Boxer Speaks Out on Campus Sexual Assault: Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post about the urgency of the need for Congress to act on the issue of campus sexual assault. She noted the prevalence of the problem, while adding that the issue is one that affects campuses across the country. Senator Boxer also highlighted her previous work on the issue, while referencing  S. 590, the “Campus Accountability and Safety Act,” which was introduced in February 2015 by her, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
January 28, 2016



USED Addresses Over Testing: Acting Secretary John King announced new guidance to help states reduce the testing burden in classrooms. The guidance details how federal dollars can be used to reduce testing while ensuring that educators and parents have the information and data that they need on students’ progress. The guidance outlines how existing guidance under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) can be used to alleviate the testing burden, support assessment audits, or engage parents and the community by making assessment results clearer and more transparent. The guidance builds on a set of principles released by President Obama and USED in October 2015 about ensuring assessments are of high quality, well-rounded, and enhance teaching and learning. The guidance can be found here.
February 2, 2016

President Obama Announces Computer Science Initiative: President Obama unveiled his new initiative, Computer Science for All, meant to build on the growing movement to expand computer science in communities across the country. The President highlighted the nature of the growing economy and the importance of having computer science knowledge to thrive and promote socioeconomic mobility. The initiative proposes to invest in computer science education by providing $4 billion in funding to states – $100 million directly to districts – to increase access to K-12 computer science by training teachers, increase access to high quality instruction materials, and build regional partnerships. The initiative also proposes an investment of $135 million by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to train computer science teachers and calls on state and local leaders and elected officials to get involved.
January 30, 2016

USED Takes Action Against Two For-Profit School Ownership Groups: USED took action to end the participation of two for-profit school ownership groups in federal financial aid programs. The groups, a cosmetology school group and a computer science group, were found to have serious violations by an investigation by USED’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), including submitting false job placement rates to students and requesting student aid based on invalid high school diplomas. The groups have a combined 4,700 active students and received over $100 million in federal funding in the 2014-15 school year.
February 1, 2016



On February 10, the House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Next Steps for K-12 Education: Implementing the Promise to Restore State and Local Control,” as it relates to ESSA implementation. The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. in room 2175 Rayburn House Office Building. More information and video of the hearing will be available here.

On February 11, USED and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will kickoff a webinar series to discuss inclusion in early childhood programs. The webinars will touch on research, practice, the need for public awareness, and the importance of inclusion for children with disabilities in early care and learning programs. Speakers will include both USED and HHS officials. The webinars will take place via Google Hangout and will begin at 3:00 p.m. EST on the 11th. The webinar can be viewed here.


New Legislation

H.R.4415 : Early Pell Promise Act
Sponsor: Rep Lawrence, Brenda L. [MI-14] (introduced 2/1/2016)      Cosponsors (6)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.R.4433 : Working Student Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep Duckworth, Tammy [IL-8] (introduced 2/2/2016)      Cosponsors (14)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.RES.593 : Expressing support for designation of the week of February 1, 2016, through February 5, 2016, as “National School Counseling Week”.
Sponsor: Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-38] (introduced 2/1/2016)      Cosponsors (6)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.RES.599 : Recognizing January 2016 as “National Mentoring Month”, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Wilson, Frederica S. [FL-24] (introduced 2/2/2016)      Cosponsors (20)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

S.2491 : A bill to amend the Head Start Act by establishing grants for Head Start programs in communities affected by toxic pollutants, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Peters, Gary C. [MI] (introduced 2/3/2016)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

H.R.4462 : To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require certain institutions of higher education to provide notice of tuition levels for students.
Sponsor: Rep Cartwright, Matt [PA-17] (introduced 2/4/2016)      Cosponsors (27)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.R.4471 : To improve quality and accountability for educator preparation programs.
Sponsor: Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-17] (introduced 2/4/2016)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce



The 2015 Education Choice and Competition Index: The Brookings Institute’s Center on Children and Families released its annual Education Choice and Competition Index, which explores the role of school choice in the future of education reform. The report and interactive web tool are intended to create awareness of the differences among districts and their support of school choice, provide a framework for efforts to improve choice and competition, and recognize leaders among districts in the design and implementation of school choice and competition systems.

The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2015: The ACT released its annual Condition of College and Career Readiness report, in collaboration with the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships.  This iteration of the report examines how prepared students from low-income families are for college and career, whether these students are taking rigorous courses, and whether these students are actually succeeding in college and career.

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