E-Update for October 31, 2022
The information covered below is from October 21 to 28.
- On October 31, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the cases of Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. The cases challenge the use of race-conscious admissions policies.
- On October 24, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the national and state results of the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which showed significant decline in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores between 2019 and 2022.
- On October 25, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced several key changes to the application process and eligibility criteria for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
- On October 27, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced final rules that will strengthen the “90/10” rule for for-profit colleges, clarify procedures for institutions undergoing changes in ownership, and extend Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, reflecting the impact of the pandemic, show significant declines in reading and math scores.: On October 24, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the national and state results of the 2022 NAEP – also known as the Nation’s Report Card – which showed significant decline in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores between 2019 and 2022. In reading, scores fell an average of three points in both fourth and eighth grades, with the largest decreases among the lower-performing quartile of students. The declines were seen across 26 states for fourth grade students and 33 states for eighth grade students, with the remaining states in both groups showing no major change from 2019 to 2022. Mathematics scores fell five points in fourth grade and eight points for eighth grade. These decreases in scores occurred in 43 states for fourth grade students and across all states for eighth grade students. In the reports and the press release, NCES cited the continued effects of pandemic-related learning disruption; NCES Commissioner Peggy Carr stated, “The results show the profound toll on student learning during the pandemic, as the size and scope of the declines are the largest ever in mathematics.” USED Secretary Miguel Cardona issued a statement, underscoring that “the data also represent a call to action for the important work we must do now for our students—especially those who have suffered the most during the pandemic.”
Biden Administration announces progress on school infrastructure initiatives and new $84.5 million investments in clean energy and lower energy costs for K-12 Schools: On October 26, the Biden Administration announced a set of new initiatives and grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to lower energy costs for public schools. A Notice of Intent was issued to provide $80 million through the Renew American Schools Grant. These grants will be made available to public schools later this fall, and will prioritize energy efficient, high-impact improvement in rural and high-poverty school districts. The second of the funding opportunities is the Energy Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable Schools Prize (Energy CLASS Prize), which will award $4.5 million to up to 25 school districts for the purpose of training administration and facilities personnel on strategic energy management. Both grants leverage investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan to advance school infrastructure improvements.
In conjunction with the announcement of the grant programs, the White House issued a fact sheet to report on progress made on the Administration’s Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the “progress report” at an event in Seattle, Washington with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, announcing 391 rebate awards of nearly $1 billion to support the purchase of 2,463 new school buses, 95 percent of which will be electric. The EPA Clean School Bus Program, also part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides for the purchase of the buses, which will serve school districts in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., as well as U.S. territories and federally-recognized Native American tribes.
White House announces key nominations to National Board for Education Sciences: On October 27, the White House announced 14 nominations to the National Board for Education Sciences, which advise the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The nominations include researchers, professors, and leaders, as well as local and state education leaders with research backgrounds. Linda Darling-Hammond, President of the Learning Policy Institute and Professor Emeritus of Education at Stanford University, was among the nominations. The fifteen-member board, whose members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, also serves as the “board of directors” for IES through consideration of the Director’s priorities for the Institute. USED Secretary Miguel Cardona added his support for the nominations, stating, “The experts appointed by President Biden to the National Board for Education Sciences are renowned scholars, nationally respected educators, and proven leaders who are dedicated to the academic success and well-being of students of all ages and backgrounds, and who share a commitment to educators, school leaders, and families.”
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED issues new guidance to support pandemic-related learning loss recovery: On October 24, USED released a new guide intended to drive strategies in districts and states on how to best address learning disruption and academic recovery. The guide is a follow-up to the extensive guidance provided in the handbooks on reopening and recovery provided by the Department in early 2021. The guide titled, Supporting Learning Acceleration with American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds, outlines how states, districts, and schools may use ARP Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund (ARP ESSER) funds to develop and implement programs to address lost instructional time and the social, emotional, and other academic needs of students, including programs that:
- Provide students with tailored learning acceleration opportunities
- Implement high-quality and effective tutoring
- Use high-quality diagnostic and formative assessments to inform and personalize instruction
- Integrate and prioritize the social, emotional, and academic needs of all students
- Support the successful transitions of students from preschool to elementary school, elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school, and high school to postsecondary education and the workforce
- Use high-quality out-of-school time (OST) learning experiences to support students’ social, emotional, and academic needs
The guide also offers several examples from states, districts, and schools that have used ARP ESSER funds to advance learning acceleration. Some of those programs include a Math Tutoring Corps that partners Oklahoma college students with middle school learners and a community-based partnership in Stamford, CT to coordinate a six-week summer program. The guide was announced as a part of the response to recently-released NAEP data showing a national decline in reading and math scores. USED Secretary Miguel Cardona remarked to parents and reporters, stating that “It’s up to us to raise the bar in education.”
USED announces permanent changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program: On October 25, USED announced several key changes through Executive Order to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The PSLF program, first authorized by Congress in 2007, allows public sector and non-profit employees to have their federal student loans forgiven after making 120 on-time student loan payments and continuing to work in a qualifying job. In April, USED announced temporary changes to the PSLF that expanded the types of payments that qualify for forgiveness. Borrowers could apply for a waiver to receive credit towards loan forgiveness on payments made late, in installments, or in a lump sum and, allowed borrowers who deferred loans due to certain types of personal hardship to remain eligible for forgiveness. Additionally, full-time employment was re-defined as 30 hours per week. These changes were set to expire on October 31, 2022. This week’s announcement keeps the October 31 deadline to apply for a waiver but makes these temporary changes permanent starting in July 2023. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said that the changes announced last year “…helped over 236,000 teachers, nurses, veterans, government employees and other public service workers secure more than $14 billion in debt relief.” Prior to these changes, fewer than one percent of those who applied were deemed eligible. USED released a fact sheet with a complete list of the changes.
USED hosts “Raising the Bar” event to present effective ways to improve student learning recovery: On October 26, the USED hosted a convening of education leaders, researchers, and stakeholders to discuss evidence-based strategies and programs to boost student literacy and math outcomes. The session was the first in a monthly series that will present strategies for educators to accelerate pandemic-related academic recovery. In his opening remarks, USED Secretary Miguel Cardona addressed the recent release of NAEP scores, calling the decrease in reading and math scores “appalling and unacceptable.” He urged systems leaders, educators, and policymakers to use this as a “moment of truth” and think beyond status quo remediation techniques to “redefine our highest dreams and our highest aspirations on what it means to be a leader.” The event included three panels with different education leaders discussing acceleration strategies: the first with state and district leaders, the second examining evidence-based methods, and the third with school-based interventions. In the first panel, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stressed the importance of differentiated funding across school districts, asserting that equal funding does not provide an equitable opportunity for students to succeed. Researchers then highlighted effective evidence-based practices, where FutureEd Associate Director Phyllis Jordan shared various ways in which schools and districts can address learning disruption in reading and math, including tutoring and mentoring. She also emphasized that districts should continue to evaluate their needs, as tutoring might be the best fit for some districts, but others may need to update curricula. The next convening will take place on November 10 – more information on these events can be found here.
Key federal, state, and local education leaders speak at “The State of American Education” event. On October 26, The Hill, a Capitol Hill publication, along with the Collaborative for Student Success and EduRecoveryHub, hosted a discussion with leading education policymakers and leaders about the recovery from the pandemic and the recently-released NAEP results, which showed some of the most significant performance drops in over thirty years. Bob Cusak, the Editor in Chief of The Hill discussed these issues with Assistant Secretary of Education, Roberto Rodriguez, Utah Governor Spencer Cox, and the Tennessee Commissioner of Education and North Dakota State Superintendent of Education. In his remarks, Assistant Secretary Rodriguez shared his concern about the “alarming” NAEP results, which he called the “most reliable indicator of trends in the country.” The results showed that the pandemic “took a toll on the whole child…and spared no zip code, no community” and was particularly “troubled by the 8th grade math results.” Rodriguez talked about the Biden Administration’s focus “since day one was to be a good partner [to states and school districts] in reopening schools, and in addressing academic and mental health challenges. And the Department will continue to move with great urgency and sprint towards recovery, focusing on what we know – through robust evidence – works.” Rodriguez ended his remarks on a hopeful note that, throughout the country “there is a sense that we can’t go back to the old system and [we are] seeing educators and principals using new, innovative approaches to learning.”
USED Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks about student debt cancellation at NAACP virtual event: On October 26, USED Secretary Miguel Cardona spoke about student debt cancellation at a virtual town hall held by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) titled, “Debt. Cancelled.” In his remarks, Secretary Cardona explained the student loan relief plan, which would cancel up to $20,000 in debt for borrowers who received a Pell Grant, and up to $10,000 for those who did not. He stressed the importance of this plan, citing that nine in ten Black students received a Pell Grant, and the loan forgiveness would lead to 42 percent of Black borrowers being completely free of student debt. Secretary Cardona noted the simplicity of the loan forgiveness application, and that it was made to be as accessible as possible to all eligible borrowers. During the question-and-answer portion of the discussion, he reiterated that borrowers should submit the application despite the current litigation and hold that federal courts have placed on dispersing the loan cancellation. Secretary Cardona added, “We feel very strongly that we have the authority [to issue loan forgiveness] and that it’s the right thing to do to help folks get on their feet.”
USED announces final regulations to protect veterans and service members, increase college oversight, and extend Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals: On October 27, USED announced final rules that will strengthen the “90/10” rule for for-profit colleges, clarify procedures for institutions undergoing changes in ownership, and extend Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals. The rules were finalized through two Negotiated Rulemaking committees in 2021, and reflect the consensus language agreed to by the negotiators for strengthening the “90/10” rule and expanding Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated individuals. As the Negotiated Rulemaking committees did not reach consensus on clarifying procedures for institutions undergoing changes in ownership, USED proceeded with its normal rulemaking activities. Under the “90/10” rule, the Higher Education Act requires that institutions of higher education obtain at least ten percent of their revenue from sources other than federal student aid provided by USED (e.g., Pell Grants and federal student loans). The final regulations implement changes included in the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which specifically required private for-profit colleges to obtain at least ten percent of their revenue from non-federal funds. Prior to the ARP, institutions could count federal aid for veterans and service members in meeting the ten percent revenue test. These regulations will apply to institutional fiscal years beginning on or after January 1, 2023.
Additionally, the final regulations clarify procedures for institutions undergoing changes in ownership, including those converting from for-profit to nonprofit status. Specifically, the regulations clarify the definition of a nonprofit institution to prevent improper financial benefits to a former owner or other affiliate of a college. Institutions undergoing a change in ownership will be required to notify both the Department and the institution’s students at least 90 days prior to the change, and they may also be required to provide additional financial protection to comply with additional conditions to protect against the risk of the transaction. The final piece of the regulations expands Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated individuals in alignment with legislation recently passed in Congress. The regulations require that state departments of corrections, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, or another entity, fairly assess institutions’ eligibility to offer prison education programs based on the best interests of the students and with the input of affected stakeholders; clarify requirements for such prison education programs; and ensure transparency and data to demonstrate how well these programs are serving their students. Both the change in ownership and Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals regulations take effect July 1, 2023. A fact sheet with additional information on the regulations is here.
Tri-Caucus endorses infrastructure bill for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs): On October 26, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, known as the Tri-Caucus, endorsed H.R. 8803, which would establish a grant program to support infrastructure improvements at HBCUs, tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), and MSIs, including Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs). The bill, named the “IGNITE HBCU, TCU and MSI Excellence Act,” would provide funding for institutions to construct or renovate facilities, carry out major repairs, and strengthen the safety and security of a campus. A previous form for the bill, primarily focused on infrastructure repairs at HBCUs, was cosponsored by 218 members of the House of Representatives. Chairs of the Tri-Caucus, led by Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC), called the bill “the most transformative legislation for MSIs, TCUs, HBCUs, HSIs, and AANAPISIs in our lifetime” and was the top priority of the Caucus for passage this Congress. Adams continued, “We implore our Congressional leadership to give Democrats and Republicans alike a chance to show our strong support for HBCUs and MSIs.” Similar legislation has yet to be introduced in the Senate.
Upcoming Events (Congress & Administration):
- On November 8 at 10:00am, the U.S. Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs will host a webinar titled, “Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign Recognition Kick Off.” The webinar will outline how K-12 schools can be recognized for their efforts to improve school health and air quality through the Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign. The campaign, aimed at areas serving low-income and underserved student populations, helps schools reduce energy costs and improve energy performance. More information and registration here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On October 31 at 2:00pm, the Brookings Institution will host a webinar titled, “Defining a culture of care for Black boys.” The Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative at Brookings will discuss policies that support the well-being and success of Black boys, both within and outside of the formal school setting. Speakers include Dr. Julius Davis, Director, Center for Research and Mentoring of Black Male Students and Teachers at Bowie State University; Dr. Tyrone Howard, Founder of the Black Male Institute at the University of California Los Angeles’ Center for the Transformation of Schools; and Camille Busette, Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. More information and registration here.
- On November 7 at 10:00am, the Brookings Institution will host a virtual discussion titled, “How can we support local learning priorities in the post-COVID-19 era?” As education systems consider how to best support students in recovery from the pandemic, the discussion will explore whether leaders should prioritize building literacy and numeracy skills, or more holistic skills like social-emotional learning and critical thinking. Speakers include Lynda Eunice Nakaibale, Program Associate at Raising Teenagers Uganda; Suman Sachdeva, Education Specialist at UNICEF Sierra Leone; Mexican Ambassador to the United States Esteban Moctezuma, the Former Mexican Secretary of Public Education; and Rukmini Banerji, CEO of the Pratham Education Foundation. More information and registration here.
- On November 15 at 2:00pm, the Bipartisan Policy Center will host a webinar titled, “The Supreme Court, Race-Conscious Admissions, and the Campus Fallout.” In light of recent Supreme Court cases considering race in college admissions, a panel of experts will discuss how colleges can prepare for “difficult” questions and conversations about race. Panelists include Fanta Aw, Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment, Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence at American University; Wanda Heading-Grant, Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at Carnegie Mellon University; and Andrew Tutt, Senior Associate, Arnold & Porter. More information and registration here.
- On November 30, the Education Law Center, in partnership with the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) and ETS, will host a webinar titled, “Money Matters: Evidence Supporting Greater Investment in PK-12 Public Education.” The webinar will feature experts in school finance reform to present the benefits of increased education spending in PK-12 public education to improve student achievement. Panelists include Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, President & CEO of LPI and the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University; Dr. Rucker Johnson, the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and faculty research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research; and Dr. Jesse Rothstein, Director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) and professor of public policy and economics at the University of California, Berkeley. More information and registration here.
Publications (Congress & Administration):
- On October 24, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report titled, “Critical Infrastructure Protection: Additional Federal Coordination Is Needed to Enhance K-12 Cybersecurity.” Potential cyber attacks on K-12 schools, which have significantly increased since 2019, include phishing, ransomware, and video conferencing disruptions. In examining potential cybersecurity threats to schools, the GAO found that there was no mechanism to coordinate federal agencies in addressing these risks and potential incidents. The GAO offered three recommendations to USED and one recommendation to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which begin with creating a collaborative mechanism to better coordinate agency cybersecurity efforts. Additionally, the GAO recommends that USED and DHS develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of K-12 cybersecurity-related products and services, and partner with other agencies to determine how best to help school districts overcome the identified challenges and consider the identified opportunities for addressing cyber threats.
- On October 25, the GAO released a new report titled, “Department of Education Should Provide Information on Equity and Safety in School Dress Codes.” The report examined the characteristics of K-12 dress codes across school districts nationwide, how USED supports the design of equitable and safe dress codes, and the enforcement of dress codes. GAO’s findings show that around 60 percent of school dress codes involve measuring student’s bodies and clothing, which may lead students, particularly girls, to feel less safe at school. In reviewing prohibited clothing items, the analysis showed the 90 percent of districts restrict at least one clothing item worn by girls, compared to 69 percent for boys. The study also reviewed policies as they relate to removal of students from classrooms due to dress code enforcement, and the GAO found that strict implementation of dress code rules occurred in schools that predominantly enroll Black and Hispanic students. The report made four recommendations to USED: 1) Provide resources to help districts and schools design equitable dress codes to promote a supportive and inclusive learning environment; 2) Include dress code information in existing resources on safe and supportive schools; 3) Provide resources on the equitable enforcement of dress code discipline, and 4) Collect information on the prevalence and effects of informal removals and non-exclusionary discipline and disseminate this information to states, school districts, and schools.
- On October 27, the GAO released a new report titled, “Education Should Assess Its Efforts to Address Teacher Shortages.” The report addressed teacher shortages happening across the country, and the analysis found that the shortages are more present in western states, rural and urban communities, high-poverty communities, and certain subject areas, including foreign languages, physical science, and special education. The GAO found that teacher shortages were caused by key recruitment and retention challenges: the high cost of becoming a teacher, differing state licensure requirements, school workplace culture, and teacher compensation. It made two recommendations to USED, the first of which is to raise public awareness about the value of teachers by developing and including time frames, milestones, and performance measures to gauge results. Second, it recommends directing Federal Student Aid and the Offices of Elementary and Secondary Education and Special Education and Rehabilitative Services to collect resources that address the key challenges contributing to teacher shortages, and share those resources with states and school districts in an easily accessible manner to help them address specific recruitment and retention challenges.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On October 25, the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) published a new report titled, “The Growing Gap.” The study reviewed college affordability at public postsecondary institutions and found increasing rates of “unaffordability” for Pell Grant recipients. Studying the most recent data during the 2019-2020 school year, NCAN found that for Pell Grant recipients, 24 percent of public four-year colleges/universities were affordable, and the average amount of unmet financial need at four-year institutions was $2,627. When considering public two-year community colleges, 40 percent were affordable for Pell Grant recipients and the average affordability gap was $907. NCAN’s interactive dashboard features a deeper look at college affordability and the affordability gap.
- On October 27, The Education Trust published a new guide titled, “A Guide to Advocating for Equity in American Rescue Plan Spending.” The report was designed to help district leaders advocate for equitable spending of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. In evaluating district ARP plans, EdTrust based the report on promising practices: accelerating student learning, including targeted intensive tutoring and expanded learning time; student, family, and community engagement; safe and equitable learning environments; teacher recruitment and retention; and data equity and reporting transparency. Each promising practice includes evaluating questions for leaders to consider and spotlights from districts that have implemented successful practices. Each section also features “lessons learned” and “look fors” to consider as districts have learned throughout creating their programs.
To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require annual reporting on assets of institutions of higher education.
Sponsor: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
A resolution expressing support for the designation of the week beginning on November 7, 2022, as “National School Psychology Week”.
Sponsor: Rep Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)