Mid-Week E-Update for January 17, 2018
- On January 10, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos approved Minnesota and West Virginia’s consolidated state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Additionally, on January 16, Secretary DeVos approved 11 more consolidated state plans, including: Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
- On January 17, the Senate Finance Committee is conducting an executive session to consider the nomination of Alex Azar to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and to determine Subcommittee assignments.
- On January 16, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary DeVos delivered the keynote address at an event hosted by American Enterprise Institute (AEI) titled, “Bush-Obama school reform: Lessons learned.” During the event, Secretary DeVos discussed lessons learned from federal education reforms enacted under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):
USED Approves ESSA Plans: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved Minnesota and West Virginia’s consolidated state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Of the consolidated state plans that were submitted in the fall, these are the first to be approved. Additionally, on January 16, Secretary DeVos approved 11 more consolidated state plans, including: Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The remaining state plans are expected to be approved in the coming months. All states that submitted their ESSA state plans in the fall have received feedback from the U.S. Department of Education (USED), with the exception of South Carolina. Press releases can be found here and here.
January 10, 2018
USED Clarifies Use of SIG Funds: Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Jason Botel sent a letter to states clarifying how they can utilize any remaining School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds. SIG was eliminated under ESSA and funds for the program were last distributed to states in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. The letter stated that schools could either use the money under the prior SIG requirements, or follow ESSA’s requirements for utilizing funds for low-performing schools, requiring that 95% go directly to districts. The letter is available here.
January 9, 2018
Innovative Assessment Pilot Applications Open: The Federal Register included a pre-publication notice inviting applications for the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority under ESSA. Under this notice, USED is inviting states, and consortia, to apply to develop, implement, and scale innovative assessments, including for use in accountability. The notice states applications will be due April 2. The notice is available here.
January 2, 2018
Budget and Appropriations:
CR Released that Includes CHIP Reauthorization: On January 16, the latest Continuing Resolution (CR) was released to extend federal funding beyond the current expiration on January 19 through February 16. The CR includes a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and a delay of Obamacare tax provisions known as the Cadillac tax and medical device tax. Of note, an agreement on a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) fix and top-level spending caps for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 has yet to be announced, which is key to completing work on a final appropriations package. Without an agreement, it is unclear if the House and Senate will have enough votes to pass the CR. The House Rules Committee is meeting at 3:00 pm on January 17 to set the rules of debate. The House could vote for the CR by January 18 and the Senate on January 19. A section by Section summary of the CR can be found here.
January 16, 2018
HHS Secretary Nominee Expected to be Sent to Full Senate: On January 17, the Senate Finance Committee is conducting an executive session to consider the nomination of Alex Azar to serve as HHS Secretary and to determine Subcommittee assignments. More information is available here. On January 9, the Senate Finance Committee held a nomination hearing for Alex Azar to be the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). During the hearing, both Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) spoke of the importance of the extension of the CHIP program as soon as possible. During his questioning, Chairman Hatch asked Mr. Azar what HHS should be doing in order to bolster CHIP and ensure the program’s success. Mr. Azar stated that he looks forward to the program’s swift reauthorization, and to working with the Committee to brainstorm ways to make the program more responsive and effective. Chairman Hatch’s statement is available here, and Ranking Member Wyden’s statement here. Video of the hearing can be found here.
Ranking Member Scott Meets with USED Secretary DeVos on Discipline Issues: Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee Bobby Scott (D-VA) met with USED Secretary DeVos for the first time to discuss priority issues for House Democrats. During the meeting, Ranking Member Scott urged Secretary DeVos to maintain the 2014 School Discipline Guidance Package, and to support school districts in using ESSA Title IV-A grants to “keep students in school and out of prison,” referencing the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
January 11, 2018
Congressional Committee Assignments:
New Assignments Made to Senate HELP Committee: Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Doug Jones (D-AL) were appointed to the Senate HELP Committee. The new additions to the Committee were made following the resignation of former Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and the appointment of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to the Senate Finance Committee. In a statement welcoming Senators Smith and Jones, Ranking Member of the Committee Patty Murray (D-WA) highlighted the need to focus on issues such as higher education and lowering health care costs for families. Ranking Member Patty Murray’s (D-WA) statement is available here.
January 10, 2018
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED Secretary DeVos Delivers Remarks at AEI Event: American Enterprise Institute (AEI) hosted an event on January 16 titled, “Bush-Obama school reform: Lessons learned.” USED Secretary DeVos delivered the keynote address, discussing lessons learned from federal education reforms enacted under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Secretary DeVos stated that “federal education reform efforts have not worked as hoped,” and that the return of decision-making authority to states through ESSA implementation and the expansion of school choice will yield positive results for students going forward. Specific topics discussed during the event included accountability policies, policy instruments, and the federal role in school reform. Secretary DeVos’s remarks are available here.
January 16, 2018
I3 Evaluation Sent to OMB for Review: The Federal Register included a notice announcing that an evaluation of the Investing in Innovation (i3) Program has been sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance. The evaluation will be used to assess the strength of the evidence produced under the i3 grantees independent evaluations, as well as provide a cross-site summary of the findings. Comments regarding the evaluation will be accepted until February 16. The notice can be found here.
January 12, 2018
USED Releases Monitoring Report for Texas Education Agency: USED released the findings of monitoring activities relating to the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The monitoring report is the result of concerns from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) regarding a decline in the number of children identified as children with disabilities in Texas from the 2003-2004 to 2016-2017 school years, despite an overall increase in enrollment numbers in Texas schools. The monitoring report lists three areas where TEA did not comply with federal law, including failure to ensure that children with disabilities were identified, failure to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students with disabilities, and failure to fulfill monitoring responsibilities required by IDEA. OSEP’s report is available here, and OSEP’s cover letter here.
January 11, 2018
Borrower Defense to Repayment Updates: On December 20, USED announced a new discharge process for borrower defense to repayment claims. The new process will provide tiers of relief to compensate former Corinthian students based on damages incurred and has raised concerns among the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA). More information is available here. Ranking Member Scott’s statement is available here, and Ranking Member Murray’s statement here. Additionally, on January 2, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to the Inspector Generals of USED and the Social Security Administration inquiring as to whether the Trump administration violated an information-sharing agreement between the two agencies governing the use of federal earnings data. The letter comes several weeks after the Trump Administration announced a new system for resolving borrower defense claims that will grant only partial relief to some defrauded borrowers. The amount of the loan forgiveness is calculated by comparing what USED believes a borrower is earning to that of graduates who attended similar programs. Lastly, from January 8-11, the Department held its second round of the Negotiated Rulemaking panel on Borrower Defenses and Financial Responsibility. More information on the panel is available here.
NACIQI Meeting Announced; Senators Request Review: On February 7-9, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) has announced that it will hold a meeting from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. The agenda includes a panel on a student-level data network, among other issues. There is also an opportunity for members of the public to submit written statements regarding issues within the scope of NACIQI’s authority for consideration by the Committee. The notice can be found here. Additionally, on January 11, five Democratic Senators sent a letter to NACIQI urging the panel to address the issue of for-profit colleges attempting to convert to non-profit entities. In the letter, the Senators claimed that these attempted transitions serve as methods for these institutions to “avoid regulatory scrutiny.” The Senators also asked that the panel scrutinize accreditors who “do not carefully review such potentially fraudulent deals and create guidelines requiring increased scrutiny when these deals are brought to accreditors.” The letter is available here.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):
CMS Approves State Pilot to Require Medicaid Work Requirements: On January 11, HHS’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that states will be able to seek waivers to adopt Medicaid work requirements as a condition for eligibility. This policy, which allows states to design Medicaid demonstration projects, is intended to support states in improving health outcomes of Medicaid enrollees by encouraging community engagement through skills training, education, volunteering, and other activities. The announcement can be found here. In response to the announcement, a number of Congressional Democrats released statements criticizing the policy for restricting Medicaid access. House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) statement can be found here. Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray’s (D-WA) statement can be found here. Additionally, on January 12, CMS approved a request from the state of Kentucky for a demonstration project for a five-year period that includes a requirement encouraging beneficiaries to obtain employment or undertake other community engagement activities. This is the first such approval of a demonstration project by CMS.
- On January 17 and 18 at 10:30 am, the House Rules Committee will conduct hearings on “Article I: Effective Oversight and the Power of the Purse,” during which time the committee is expected to hear testimony regarding the practice of “congressionally directed spending” or earmarks. The first day the committee will hear from members of Congress and the second day the Committee will hear from outside stakeholders. The hearing announcement are available here and here.
- On January 17, the Senate Finance Committee will conduct an executive session to consider the nomination of Alex Azar to serve as HHS Secretary and to determine Subcommittee assignments. More information is available here.
- On January 18, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing at 10:00 am titled, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency.” This will be the second hearing the panel will hold as part of its work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. More information is available here.
- On January 18, USED Secretary Betsy DeVos will give remarks at the National School Choice Week Rally. National School Choice Week will take place from January 21-27, 2018. The effort recognizes all K-12 options, including traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling. More information is available here.
- On January 19, the United States Commission on Civil Rights will conduct a meeting via telephone at 11:00 am to vote on the release of the outline and transcript of the Commission’s briefing on inequities in higher education funding. The meeting can be accessed through the call-in number: 1-800-479-9001; Conference ID: 6075575. The notice can be found here.
- On January 30, the President will deliver his State of the Union address.
- On February 5-8 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, USED will conduct a second session of the Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. More information is available here.
- On February 7-9, National Advisory Committee meeting on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) will hold a meeting from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. The notice can be found here.
- On February 12-15 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, USED will conduct a third session of the Borrower Defenses and Financial Responsibility Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. More information is available here.
- On February 26, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. More information is available here.
- On March 12-15 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, USED will conduct a third session of the Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. More information is available here.
- On April 11-12, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute will conduct a summit to assess the American education landscape in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the seminal report: “A Nation at Risk.” The steering committee for the summit includes Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and former USED Secretaries John King, Arne Duncan, Margaret Spellings and Richard Riley, among others. Summit information can be found here.
Early Childhood Education:
- The Office of Early Learning recently released the Preschool Development Grant (PDG) Progress Update, which summarizes trends that emerge in annual performance reports. The report shows that states have increased access to high-quality preschool programs to over 34,000 four-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. The report can be found here.
- The Preschool Development and Expansion Grant Technical Assistance (PDGTA) Program recently released a series of webinars and materials called STEM in Early Learning designed to enhance early learning professionals’ ability to support young children’s higher order thinking and learning related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This series includes 11 modules, and features presentations from national experts, suggested research readings, and practical application activities. More information is available here.
- The Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance (ELCTA) Program recently released a report titled “Taking on the Challenge: Building a Strong Foundation for Early Learning.” This report summarizes the progress of Early Learning Challenge (ELC) Program grantees over the duration of the program, including the three phases of grantees. The report is available here.
- On January 11, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a briefing report titled, “Public Education Funding Inequity in an Era of Increasing Concentration of Poverty and Resegregation.” The report examines K-12 funding throughout the country and the impact of inequitable funding on low-income students and students of color. The report also includes recommendations that Congress should consider in order to ameliorate these issues, such as incentivizing states to adopt more equitable school finance systems. The report is available here.
- On January 9, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report titled, “Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2014–15 (Fiscal Year 2015).” The report examines revenue and expenditures totals on a national and statewide level, and includes current expenditures per pupil and instructional expenditures per pupil. The report is available here.
- On January 3, the Regional Education Laboratory (REL) Southwest released a report titled, “An exploratory analysis of features of New Orleans charter schools associated with student achievement growth.” This exploratory analysis of the features of New Orleans charter schools serving grades 3–8 identifies characteristics which are potential indicators of student achievement growth in English language arts, math, and science. The report is available here.
- On January 2, NCES released a report entitled “Student Victimization in U.S. Schools: Results From the 2015 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey.” The report examines student criminal victimization and the characteristics of crime victims and non-victims. The report is available here.
- In December 2017, the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development published an issue brief on Personalized Learning Plans which utilized data from the National Survey on High School Strategies Designed to Help At-Risk Students Graduate (HSS). The issue brief gives a brief summary of research on personalized learning plans, and summarizes key findings from the survey, detailing the prevalence of personalized learning plans in high schools, the process of the development of said plans, and more. The issue brief is available here.
- On January 9, NCES released a report titled, “Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance in 2016-17; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2015-16; and 12-Month Enrollment: 2015-16: First Look (Provisional Data).” A preliminary version of this report was released on July 18, 2017. This version contains edited data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) fall 2016 collection. The report is available here.
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow section 529 education accounts to be used for homeschooling expenses.
Sponsor: Jason Smith (R-MO)
Truth in Tuition Act of 2017
A bill 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. Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
Department of Education Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act
A bill to provide accountability and protect whistleblowers in the Department of Education.
Sponsor: Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL)
Inclusive Campuses Act
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize the use of title III funds for the establishment LGBTQ resource centers.
Sponsor: Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (D-GA)
A Resolution recognizing January 2018 as “National Mentoring Month”, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. James Renacci (R-OH)
A concurrent resolution expressing support for the use of public-private partnerships to bring computer science education to more K-12 classrooms.
Sponsor: Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA)
HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to modify certain provisions relating to the capital financing of historically Black colleges and universities.
Sponsor: Senator Cory A. Booker (D-NJ)
A bill to provide for the discharge of parent borrower liability if a student on whose behalf a parent has received certain student loans becomes disabled.
Sponsor: Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act
A bill to reauthorize title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965 in order to improve and encourage innovation in international education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Todd C. Young (R-IN)
CHIP Mental Health Parity Act
A bill to amend title XXI of the Social Security Act to ensure access to mental health services for children under the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
A resolution honoring the accomplishments of the 9 historically Black colleges and universities that celebrated their sesquicentennial anniversaries during the week of September 24 through September 30, 2017.
Sponsor: Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA)