E-Update for October 16, 2015

E-Update for October 16, 2015


  • Both the House and Senate have been in recess this week. They will reconvene next Monday.
  • On October 14, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced a new pilot program to accelerate and evaluate innovation through partnerships between institutions of higher education and non-traditional providers. The program, Education Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP), will evaluate the effectiveness of granting Title IV federal student aid flexibility to some of these innovative partnerships.
  • House Republican leadership met formally last Friday to discuss the Speakership, and discussions are ongoing.  While the Speakership race remains uncertain, decisions about next steps on ESEA, debt limit, and Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations also remain uncertain.
  • Treasury Department Secretary Jack Lew has said lawmakers must act prior to November 5 in order to avoid default on the government’s debt obligations and/or delays in payments for government activities.


U.S Congress

Senate HELP Committee Holds Field Hearings on Dyslexia: The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held two full committee field hearings entitled, “Developmental Perspective on Testing for Dyslexia” and “The Educational Milestones of Dyslexia,” at the University of New Orleans and Louisiana State University, respectively. There is not a webcast of these hearings. More information is available here and here.
October 13, 2015


U.S Department of Education

USED Launches the Education Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) initiative: USED announced a new pilot program to accelerate and evaluate innovation through partnerships between institutions of higher education and non-traditional providers to equip more Americans with the skills, knowledge, and training they need for jobs in the future. Two of the barriers for students seeking access to these new models of education are a lack of financial aid and a lack of information about quality of programs to help students make enrollment decisions. To address these challenges, USED is launching the EQUIP initiative under the Experimental Sites Initiative. The EQUIP program will evaluate the effectiveness of granting Title IV federal student aid flexibility to some of these innovative partnerships.
October 14, 2015


USED Hosts a Convening on the Use of Suspensions and Expulsions in Early Childhood Settings: On USED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ (OSERS) Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin convened national experts for an online discussion about the use of suspensions and expulsions in early childhood settings and local efforts to end the use of exclusionary discipline for young children. This online discussion is part of USED’s larger Rethink Discipline initiative.
October 15, 2015


White House Launches the Act to Change Campaign: The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) conducted a call to preview the Act to Change campaign, a new national bullying prevention and awareness campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness of how bullying affects youth – including AAPI, Sikh, Muslim, LGBT, and immigrant youth – and to empower youth and communities to take action to prevent and end bullying. The campaign also includes the launch of a toolkit to provide kids, teens, parents, teachers, and other interested community members with helpful tools and resources on understanding and preventing bullying.
October 14, 2015


USED Releases a Report on Tribal Listening Tour: USED released the School Environment Listening Sessions final report from their first-ever tribal listening tour, which was undertaken to hear from schools and communities about ways to better meet the unique educational and culturally-related academic needs of Native American students. “If we are going to live up to our promise as a nation where every child truly has fair shot at success, we have to do more to improve opportunities and educational outcomes for Native youth. The listening tour revealed too many stories of school environments that rather than building on the strengths of Native youth, are stifling their potential,” said William Mendoza, executive director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHIAIANE). “We need to ensure that every student has a supportive and a safe environment.”
October 15, 2015


USED Announces Grant Awards: USED announced a number of grant awards this week for a range of programs, from those serving young children up through programs serving K-12 and higher education.  Information on these recent grant announcements is available below:

  • Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions program: On October 16, USED announced the award of more than $2.9 million to strengthen and expand educational opportunities for Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students. The grants are being awarded to 10 campuses to improve their academic quality, instructions and facilities.
  • Fulbright-Hays International Education Programs: On October 15, USED announced the award of 59 new grants—totaling more than $4.4 million—under two Fulbright-Hays international education programs to institutions and organizations in 34 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The goal of these grants is to deepen knowledge of areas of the world not generally included in U.S. educational programs and to build a cadre of students, educators and other professionals with deep global expertise.
  • Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI): On October 15, USED announced the award of more than $13.7 million to 23 Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI) to establish or strengthen their higher education programs. The PBI competitive grant program provides grants to institutions of higher education in the following areas: science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM); health education; internationalization or globalization; teacher preparation; and improving educational outcomes of African-American males.
  • Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) – On October 14, USED announced the award of over $23 million to help provide fellowships through academic departments and programs at institutions of higher education. The award was provided under the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program.
  • Skills for Success – On October 14, USED announced the launch of the Mentoring Mindsets Initiative, which is a partnership with City Year, MENTOR, Stanford University’s PERTS Lab, and the Raikes Foundation to pilot evidence-based tools that enable mentors to teach learning mindsets and skills to their mentees. Along with the launch of the initiative, USED announced four grants totaling $2 million, under the Skills for Success grant competition.
  • Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities program and the Technical Assistance and Dissemination program – On October 13, USED announced the award of over $4.8 million in grants to improve outcomes for children with disabilities, including $1.2 million to upgrade adolescent literacy for students with disabilities and $3.6 million to enhance results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities through the use of accessible technology, media services and educational materials.
  • Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education program – On October 9, USED announced the award of over $4 million in grants to 11 states to focus on increasing the number of minority and other underrepresented students in gifted and talented programs, under the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education program.  The awards are targeted to programs aimed at enrolling students that are economically disadvantaged, limited in English language skills, or have disabilities.
  • Disability Innovation Fund – On October 9, USED announced the award of a $20 million grant to the University of Wisconsin to improve access to information technology for individuals with disabilities, through the Disability Innovation Fund’s Automated Personalization Computing Project (APCP). The grant is designed to improve broadband infrastructure so that devices automatically adjust into a format based on the user’s preferences and abilities.


Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) Grants: USED’s OSERS announced more than $12.6 million in grants in multiple project areas to help improve the outcomes of individuals with disabilities—from cradle through career. The investments are aimed at promoting inclusion, equity and opportunity for individuals with disabilities to help ensure their economic self-sufficiency, independent living and full community participation.
October 9, 2015



On October 22, Results for America and America Forward will host a briefing entitled, “Investing in What Works: How Federal Innovation Funds Are Using Evidence and Evaluation to Improve Outcomes.” The briefing will present information about innovation funds, including the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) and the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) along with an overview of how organizations are using randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to rigorously determine what works, for whom, and why. RSVP to Josh Inaba.


On October 22 and 23, ExcelinEd will host their annual National Summit on Education Reform in Denver, Colorado. The National Summit covers a wide range of topics such as how to measure the quality of education and how to recruit and retain the best teachers. More information and registration are available here.


On October 22-24, National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) will host their annual conference in Baltimore. This year’s theme, “States Charting a Course for Change,” reflects the shifting reality of education governance in a post-NCLB era. Information and registration are available here.


New Legislation

H.R.3747 : To amend title 31, United States Code, to adjust for inflation the amount that is exempt from administrative offsets by the Department of Education for defaulted student loans.
Sponsor: Rep Deutch, Theodore E. [FL-21] (introduced 10/9/2015)      Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Judiciary

H.R.3751 : To allow certain student loan borrowers to refinance Federal student loans.
Sponsor: Rep Peters, Scott H. [CA-52] (introduced 10/9/2015)      Cosponsors (9)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce

H.R.3752 : To simplify and improve the Federal student loan program through income-contingent repayment to provide stronger protections for borrowers, encourage responsible borrowing, and save money for taxpayers.
Sponsor: Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] (introduced 10/9/2015)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce; House Ways and Means

H.R.3755 : To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the disregard of certain resident slots that include Department of Veterans Affairs training in determining payments for direct graduate medical education costs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Titus, Dina [NV-1] (introduced 10/9/2015)      Cosponsors (2)
Committees: House Ways and Means; House Energy and Commerce; House Veterans’ Affairs

H.RES.476 : Supporting the establishment of a national Children’s Bill of Rights.
Sponsor: Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] (introduced 10/9/2015)      Cosponsors (2)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce



Moving America Forward: Innovators Lead the Way to Unlocking America’s Potential: America Forward, a network of innovative and results-oriented American organizations, released this Presidential briefing book which proposes more than 35 actions that policymakers, including the next President, can take to embrace innovation and scale results to improve the lives of millions of struggling Americans.
October 15, 2015


IHEP College Readiness Tactical Guidebook: Navigating the Pathway to College: The Institution for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) released a tactical guidebook to explain how communities work towards greater academic alignment and increase college readiness for underserved students. The guidebook examines how different communities navigate the pathway to college for their most underserved students and offers insights regarding how other communities could adopt some of the practices and tools highlighted in the report.
October 14, 2015


Revised What Works Clearinghouse Intervention Report on My Teaching Partner – Secondary: The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) identified one study of My Teaching Partner – Secondary (MTPS) that fell within the scope of the Teacher Training, Evaluation, and Compensation topic area and met WWC group design standards. In reviewing the evidence for MTPS on general academic achievement, MTPS was found to have no discernible effects on general achievement for middle and high school students.
October 15, 2015


State, District, and School Implementation of Reforms Promoted Under the Recovery Act: 2009–10 through 2011–12
The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) at USED released a report on implementation of reforms promoted under the Recovery Act.  “This report, based on surveys completed by all 50 SEAs and the District of Columbia (DC) and nationally representative samples of districts and schools during spring 2011 and 2012, examines implementation of the key education reform strategies promoted by the Recovery Act in 2011–12, the extent to which implementation reflected progress since Recovery Act funds were first distributed, and challenges with implementation. Findings showed variation in the prevalence and progress of reform activities across the areas of reform assessed and by state, district, or school level. Implementation progress was most consistent across the areas of reform at the state level. At all levels, implementation challenges related to educator evaluation and compensation were common.”
September 30, 2015


Usage of Policies and Practices Promoted by Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants
States, districts, and schools have received billions of dollars through the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top (RTT) and School Improvement Grants (SIG) programs to implement a broad range of education policies and practices. This IES evaluation report documents state and school use of policies and practices promoted by these two programs, and whether grantees were more likely to use these policies and practices than non-grantees. Key findings include:

  • Early (Round 1 and 2) RTT states used more policies and practices than non-RTT states in five of six areas examined: state capacity, standards and assessments, data systems, teachers and leaders, and charter schools (school turnaround was the exception). Later (Round 3) RTT states used more policies and practices than non-RTT states in just one area: teachers and leaders.
  • Use of policies and practices across RTT and non-RTT states was highest in the state capacity and data systems areas and lowest in the teachers and leaders area.
  • SIG schools used more practices than non-SIG schools in all four areas examined: comprehensive instructional reforms, teacher and principal effectiveness, learning time and community-oriented schools, and operational flexibility and support.
  • Use of practices among SIG and non-SIG schools was highest in the comprehensive instructional reforms area and lowest in the operational flexibility and support area.

September 29, 2015

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