E-Update for September 11, 2015

E-Update for September 11, 2015

EducationCounsel E-Update for July 31, 2015

On September 8, the House and Senate concluded their August recesses. They have until the end of the fiscal year, September 30, to pass a spending bill to fund the federal government past that point. The next recess will begin on Columbus Day, October 12.

While Congress was away, we released our new EducationCounsel website. We are excited to share our work with visitors and to highlight the important activities of our partners. The new website contains much of the same content, but we have added new features like upcoming events, new ways to access and share publications and our LatestCounsel blog. The LatestCounsel blog includes examples of our ongoing work as well as individuals’ thoughts on various topics.

U.S Congress

House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Holds Hearing on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on Campuses: Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) held a hearing on preventing and responding to sexual assault on campuses as the Committee seeks to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. “Every college student should be able to learn in an environment that is safe and free from fear and intimidation. Yet for some students, that is not the case,” said Chairwoman Foxx. Witnesses included: Ms. Dana Scaduto, General Counsel, Dickinson College; Dr. Penny Rue, Vice President for Campus Life, Wake Forest University; Ms. Lisa M. Maatz, M.A., Vice President for Government Relations, American Association of University Women; and Mr. Joseph Cohn, Legislative and Policy Director, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
September 10, 2015

House Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline Announces He Will Not Seek Reelection in 2016: Representative John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, announced that he will not seek re-election in 2016. “I remain humbled by the opportunity to lead the committee, and I intend to finish strong and to continue delivering commonsense reforms America’s student, parents, workers, and employers deserve,” said Chairman Kline.
September 3, 2015

U.S Department of Education

U.S. Department of Education Approves 16 States’ Teacher Equity Plans: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) approved 16 states’ teacher-equity plans, which aim to ensure that students in high-poverty schools get access to qualified teachers. The approved states are: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.
September 10, 2015

USED Holds Public Hearing on Acceptable Defenses to Repayment:  USED held a public hearing in D.C. as part of their process for developing proposed regulations for determining which acts or omissions of an institution of higher education a borrower may assert as a defense to repayment of a federal student loan to the Secretary.
September 10, 2015

Jill Biden Announced to Lead College Promise Advisory Board: On September 9, President Barack Obama and Jill Biden appeared at Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan, to announce that Dr. Biden will lead Obama’s new College Promise Advisory Board, which aims to advocate for offering free community college, as well as degree and certificate completion for responsible students. The President also announced $175 million in grants to public-private partnerships to provide “earn and learn” training opportunities for more than 34,000 new apprentices in health care, IT, advanced manufacturing, and other high-growth, high-tech industries.
September 9, 2015

Secretary Duncan’s Back-To-School Bus Tour Kicks Off: As part of USED’s Back to School Tour, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Harper College to promote the president’s free community college proposal. The Secretary praised a program at Harper that rewards students with free college education for keeping good attendance, making average grades, and serving in their community during all four years in high school. The tour, which aims to highlight champions of education around the country while the Secretary discusses challenges the nation faces, concluded on the 10th.
September 8, 2015

USED Approves Pennsylvania for ESEA Waiver: USED approved Pennsylvania for ESEA flexibility renewal. In their press release, USED noted that “Pennsylvania has been taking important steps toward ensuring that every child has the opportunity they deserve but needs more time to make adjustments to its flexibility plans in order to fully meet its commitments. To that end, the state is receiving a one-year renewal while it continues finalizing its plans for the future. 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. All states up for renewal have submitted a request to extend their flexibility.
September 8, 2015

USED Eliminates Alternate Assessments Based on Modified Achievement Standards: USED posted a Federal Register notice explaining that the Secretary is amending the regulations governing title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (the “Title I regulations”), to no longer authorize a State to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards for eligible students with disabilities. Essentially, USED officially said that States can offer alternate assessments only to the 1 percent of students who have severe cognitive disabilities, which constitutes about 10 percent of students in special education overall.
August 20, 2015


On September 18, Educational Testing Services, Sesame Street, and the Children’s Defense Fund will host a symposium on pre-K standards, kindergarten readiness, and the role of technology in learning. The symposium is entitled, “Success Starts Young: Closing the Achievement Gap Where it Begins,” and will be held at the National Press Club. Register here.

New Legislation

H.R.3446: Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep Doggett, Lloyd [TX-35] (introduced 9/8/2015)      Cosponsors (9)
Committees: House Education and the Workforce 

H.R.3450: Student Debt Repayment Fairness Act of 2015
Sponsor: Rep Kildee, Daniel T. [MI-5] (introduced 9/8/2015)      Cosponsors (None)
Committees: House Financial Services

S.2014: A bill to demonstrate a commitment to our Nation’s scientists by increasing opportunities for the development of our next generation of researchers.
Sponsor: Sen Baldwin, Tammy [WI] (introduced 9/9/2015)      Cosponsors (1)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions


Weighing the Options for Improving the National Postsecondary Data Infrastructure: The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) published a report that explores seven options to enable students, policymakers, and institutions to have access to high quality data about how today’s students access and pay for higher education, as well as what contributes to their success. Based on feedback from the field, the report concludes that a student-level data system would be the most nimble and comprehensive, but, because current law bans the creation of a federal student unit record system, a deeper investigation of alternative solutions is needed.
September 9, 2015

Trends in Undergraduate Nonfederal Grant and Scholarship Aid by Demographic and Enrollment Characteristics, Selected Years: 1999-2000 to 2011-12: The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a series Web Tables, which present trend data on nonfederal grant and scholarship aid awarded to undergraduate students between 1999-2000 and 2011-12. Nonfederal grant and scholarship aid is financial aid awarded by states, institutions, employers, and private organizations. Grants and scholarships, unlike loans, do not need to be repaid and are traditionally awarded on the basis of financial need, merit (e.g., academic or athletic), or a combination of need and merit. Estimates in these tables include the percentage of undergraduates who received nonfederal aid and the average amounts they received, by aid type (need- or merit-based), source (state, institution, or private organization), and selected student characteristics, such as sex, dependency status, income, institution type, and enrollment intensity.
September 9, 2015

Trends in Pell Grant Receipt and the Characteristics of Pell Grant Recipients: Selected Years, 1999-2000 to 2011-12: Using data from the 1999-2000, 2003-04, 2007-08, and 2011-12 administrations of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, NCES has published Web Tables that present trends in the receipt of federal Pell Grants and among Pell Grant recipients. Data include the percentages of Pell Grant recipients and the average Pell Grant amount received each survey year, as well as the average total price of attendance in 2011-12. Also shown are the percentages of Pell Grant recipients who took out student loans or received state or institutional grants and the average amounts received from these sources. The average percentage ratios of Pell Grant amount, grant aid and total aid to the total price of attendance among Pell Grant recipients are also included. Data are presented by selected student and enrollment characteristics, such as age, sex, race/ethnicity, dependency status, family income, attendance status, class level, degree program, employment status, parents’ education, and by type of institution attended.
September 9, 2015

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