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March 7, 2024

E-Update for March 7, 2024

The information covered below is from February 16, 2024, through February 29, 2024. Updated information for this week will be included in our next publication.


  • On March 1, President Biden signed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend federal funding through March 8 for six federal agencies and March 22 for the remaining federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Education (USED), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Labor (DOL).
  • On February 22 and 23, the USED held a fourth negotiated rulemaking session on student loan debt relief, at which the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee reached consensus on draft regulatory text relating to student loan forgiveness for borrowers experiencing financial hardship.
  • On February 21, the Biden Administration announced that it would automatically discharge $1.2 billion in student loans for nearly 153,000 borrowers who are eligible for certain forgiveness benefits under the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan.


White House:

First Lady Jill Biden and USED Secretary Cardona visit New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin to discuss career-connected learning: Throughout February, First Lady Jill Biden and USED Secretary Miguel Cardona traveled to New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin to learn about career-connected learning opportunities as part of President Biden’s Investing in America Tour. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, First Lady Jill Biden and Secretary Cardona participated in a roundtable discussion on career-oriented learning and heard from students participating in youth apprenticeship programs. First Lady Jill Biden remarked on the success of the programs, stating that education leaders are “reimagining middle school and high school classrooms and turning them into places where students can try out different careers, explore their interests, and discover how to turn those interests into good-paying jobs.” Secretary Cardona also toured a community college in Rhode Island where he met with state and local leaders to discuss the need for increased career pathways and career and technical education (CTE) programming and apprenticeships, particularly in areas to support the Latino community. In Union City, New Jersey, Secretary Cardona toured Essex County Vocational School, which was recently awarded funds through the Career Connected High School grant program, and also met with school leaders to discuss their career-connected learning pathways.

Biden Administration hosts 2024 White House Convening on Equity: On February 16, the Biden Administration hosted the 2024 White House Convening on Equity. The convening included Cabinet members, such as USED Secretary Cardona, stakeholders from civil rights organizations, community organizers, advocates, and policy leaders. The White House used the convening to mark the first anniversary of President Biden’s Executive order on Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, and 23 federal agencies released updated Equity Action Plans alongside a White House progress report. The USED’s updated Equity Action Plan has five areas of focus, including: (1) improving college access, affordability, and degree completion for underserved students to increase economic mobility; (2) implementing Maintenance of Equity requirements to ensure historically underserved students have equitable resources for learning recovery; (3) addressing inequities faced by justice-impacted individuals by expanding access to postsecondary learning opportunities; (4) advancing equity in and through career and technical education; and (5) increasing mental health resources with an emphasis on underserved communities.

President Biden issues Executive Order on protecting personal data from countries of concern: On February 28, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) to protect Americans’ personal data from exploitation by countries of concern. The EO directs federal government agencies – the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Defense, and HHS – to issue regulations and standards to protect Americans’ most personal and sensitive information, including genomic data, biometric data, personal health data, geolocation data, financial data, and certain kinds of personally identifiable information. In issuing the EO, President Biden also “urge[d] Congress to do its part and pass comprehensive bipartisan privacy legislation, especially to protect the safety of our children.”

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

USED’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee reaches consensus draft regulatory text relating to student loan forgiveness for borrowers experiencing financial hardship: On February 22 and 23, the USED held a fourth negotiated rulemaking session on student loan debt relief, which was added to focus on borrowers experiencing financial hardship. Negotiated rulemaking on student loan debt relief follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June which found that the Biden Administration does not have the legal authority to broadly cancel student loan debt under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (“HEROES”) Act. In response to the Supreme Court ruling, the Biden Administration announced a negotiated rulemaking process aimed at opening an alternative path to debt relief for as many borrowers as possible using authority related to the modification, waiver, release, or compromise of federal student loans under the Higher Education Act. The Department released proposed regulatory text earlier in February that outlined a set of factors that could be used to identify financial hardship, such as a borrower’s total student loan balance and required payments relative to household income and whether a borrower has high-cost burdens for certain expenses, including healthcare or child care.

According to reporting from the National Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), Under Secretary James Kvaal opened the session by stating, “Our goal here is to advance a regulatory proposal that focuses on the Secretary’s existing and long standing waiver authority to clarify how the Department will consistently and transparently deliver relief to borrowers.” The Negotiated Rulemaking Committee then discussed the USED’s broad approach to the definition of financial hardship and the “factors that substantiate hardship,” which, as NASFAA wrote, “would be made through a predictive model being developed by [the USED] that would use historical data to determine the likelihood of a borrower defaulting on their loans within two years of the regulation being finalized.” At the conclusion of the session, NASFAA reported that the Committee reached consensus on proposed text, which had been revised by the Department based on feedback from the negotiators to provide more specificity in a few areas. Scott Buchanan, the primary negotiator for Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) lenders, servicers, or guaranty agencies, expressed concerns with the text and abstained from voting. According to NASFAA, Buchanan argued that “the Department’s text is overly ambiguous and could even be a massive expansion of [US]ED’s authority. Specifically, Buchanan questioned how the Department would staff itself to implement this new relief effort and whether it would withstand judicial scrutiny.”

As the Committee reached consensus, the USED is required to publish the agreed-upon regulatory language in a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), but can still make changes to the language in response to public comment on that NPRM when a final rule is published. If the final rule is issued before November 1, 2024, the regulations will take effect on July 1, 2025.

Biden Administration announces $1.2 billion in student loan forgiveness for more than 150,000 borrowers: On February 21, the Biden Administration announced that it would automatically discharge $1.2 billion in student loans for nearly 153,000 borrowers who are eligible for the shortened time to forgiveness benefit under the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan. First announced in August 2023, the Biden Administration’s income-driven repayment (IDR) plan – known as the SAVE Plan – cuts undergraduate loan payments from 10% to 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income. As announced in January, borrowers who are eligible for this forgiveness must be enrolled in the SAVE Plan, have been making at least 10 years of payments, and have originally taken out $12,000 or less for college. Borrowers who meet the eligibility criteria for forgiveness under the SAVE Plan will receive an email informing them that they are approved for forgiveness and will have their loans automatically discharged with no action needed on their part. Speaking about the loan forgiveness at an event in Culver City, CA, President Biden said, “This action will be a huge help to graduates of community college and borrowers with smaller loans, putting them back on track faster for debt forgiveness than ever before.” A White House Fact Sheet adds that with the SAVE Plan, “85% of future community college borrowers will be debt free within 10 years.” The USED also released a state-by-state breakdown of the number of borrowers in each state that will receive forgiveness and the corresponding total amount of forgiveness. USED Secretary Cardona shared on a press call that, “The bottom line is this: We’re providing real, immediate breathing room from an unacceptable reality where student loan payments compete with basic needs, like putting food on the table and accessing healthcare.”

Following the announcement, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) issued a statement, noting the challenges that the USED has had in implementing the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, and instead “prioritiz[ed] their student loan schemes to shift someone else’s debt onto taxpayers that chose not to go to college or already paid off their loans.” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) also issued a statement, writing that the Biden Administration’s plans, “[mean] less money in the pockets of hardworking taxpayers, more debt, and a continuing decline of an already failing student loan system.” Additionally, the Department’s action is likely to face court challenges – as indicated by the Republican Kansas Attorney General – regarding the legality of the student loan forgiveness authorized through the SAVE plan, which could impact its implementation (Subscription to Politico Pro required to view article).

USED releases updated guidance and Dear Colleague Letter on how Title I funds can be used to expand preschool programs: On February 26, the USED released updated guidance and a Dear Colleague letter with information on how states, local educational agencies (LEAs), and schools can use Title I funds to expand access to high-quality preschool in K-12 schools, Head Start, and community-based organizations. The guidance is an update to a version first released in 2012 and provides general information on the use of Title I funds for preschool programs, eligible children, educator requirements, and family engagement, among other topics. The Dear Colleague letter highlights the evidence of how high-quality preschool can be an effective strategy to support K-12 academic success and encourages state and local leaders to use Title I funds to implement and expand these programs. The guidance follows President Biden’s April 2023 Executive Order to Increase Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers, which directed the USED to update the guidance on this issue. USED Secretary Cardona shared that the resources are aimed at “helping states, LEAs, schools, and communities to reach more historically underserved children with high-quality preschool programs, strengthen community partnerships, and find strategies and tools to best support educators and staff.”

On February 26, the HHS and the USED also issued a joint letter encouraging state leaders to collaborate on a mixed delivery approach to preschool. A mixed delivery approach involves a coordinated effort on the part of States and local communities to support preschool programs across a range of quality settings, building on the expertise and capacity of existing providers and leveraging existing federal, state, and local funding. The letter also notes that mixed delivery preschool approaches should be inclusive of the full range of high-quality early care and education settings, including community-based child care providers, schools, Head Start programs, and family child care homes. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families Katie Hamm wrote that collaborative, cross-agency efforts allow for states to “better meet families’ needs and provide more children with enriching early childhood experiences that support positive development and foster early learning.”

USED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) releases new resources regarding protections for students with disabilities: On February 20, the USED’s OCR released four new resources with information addressing civil rights of students with disabilities, as well as a data snapshot about education access for students with disabilities drawn from OCR’s 2020-21 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The new resources are specifically to support students with asthma, diabetes, food allergies, and GERD “to understand when and how they are protected by federal disability rights laws,” said USED Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon. The new CRDC data snapshot shows the differences in the experiences of students with disabilities compared to their non-disabled peers, as 8.4 million students with disabilities accounted for 17% of the overall public school enrollment in the 2020-21 school year. The data snapshot also reported that students with disabilities were overrepresented in disciplinary actions when compared to their total student enrollment and underrepresented in Advanced Placement courses, gifted and talented programs, and dual enrollment or dual credit programs.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

HHS releases final rule making updates to the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF): On February 29, the HHS released a final rule making updates to the CCDF aimed at reducing costs for families that receive federal child care subsidies and improving options for families. One key change reduces child care costs by limiting the amount that eligible families pay to no more than 7% of their household income and makes it easier for states to eliminate co-payments for children in households below 150% of the poverty level, families that have a child with a disability, and other vulnerable families. To address the need for increased child care providers and expand choice for families, the rule makes multiple changes, including requiring states to make timely payments to providers and do so based on child enrollment. Additionally, the rule streamlines processes to make it easier for families to apply for and receive child care assistance, including if they have already demonstrated eligibility for another benefit program. HHS estimates that approximately 100,000 children will have lower child care costs as a result of this rule. Announcing the final rule, Vice President Harris stated that the final rule would lower the cost of child care “for more than 100,000 working families that receive federal child care assistance.”

Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on Head Start access recommends revisions to funding allocations: On February 27, the GAO issued a report on Head Start titled, “Opportunities Exist to Better Align Resources with Child Poverty.” The analysis on availability of Head Start programs found wide variation across states and counties that “does not closely align with child poverty.” Specifically, the report showed that “the number of Head Start seats for every 100 young children in poverty ranged from nine in Nevada to 53 in Oregon in 2022.” The report found that the statutory formula used to allocate funding “is not responsive to changes in child poverty [and] as a result, grant recipients in states with rising child poverty can generally serve a lower proportion of income-eligible children.” The report made two recommendations for congressional and executive action, including that Congress review Head Start funding formulas and that HHS use its grant-making authority and available data to reconsider geographic distribution of funds and program success rates.


Federal funding extended with enactment of latest CR: On March 1, President Biden signed H.R. 7463, a CR to extend federal funding through March 8 for the agencies funded through the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs; Transportation/Housing and Urban Development; Agriculture; Energy and Water; Commerce, Justice, and Science; and Interior Appropriations bills. Additionally, the CR would extend federal funding for the remaining federal agencies, including those funded through the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations bill, through March 22. On February 29, the House passed by the bill a vote of 320 to 99 and the Senate by a vote of 77 to 13. The CR also includes language to provide a fix to the formula used to calculate a dependent student’s contribution from income on the FAFSA.


Senate HELP Committee advances renomination of Julie Su as U.S. Secretary of Labor: On February 27, the Senate HELP Committee held a markup and advanced the renomination of Julie Su to serve as the DOL Secretary on a 11-10 party line vote. President Biden first nominated Su for the Secretary role on February 23, 2023; however, Acting Secretary Su’s nomination failed to receive a Senate floor vote in 2023, requiring the need to be renominated. Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) shared his support for Acting Secretary Su, stating that her “strong pro-worker track record and tireless dedication to working families across this country shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is the right person for the job.” Regarding the Committee’s consideration of the nomination, Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) issued a statement criticizing Chairman Sanders for “[denying] a formal request from Cassidy to hold a public hearing on her nomination to allow members of the Committee to address their concerns with Ms. Su directly and get answers to questions regarding her leadership at DOL.” Su was previously confirmed as Deputy Secretary of Labor in July 2021 and has been serving as Acting Secretary since March 2023. Ranking Member Cassidy’s statement continued, “Since Julie Su’s first nomination hearing, the concerns over her leadership of DOL have only grown… The HELP Committee should have been able to address these issues directly with Ms. Su to properly conduct its constitutional duty to oversee the president’s nominees.” Acting Secretary Su’s nomination will now be sent to the full Senate for consideration where it faces an uncertain future, particularly as Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has said in the past he would vote against her confirmation, according to Reuters.

Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Cassidy releases report on decline in child literacy and requests feedback on improving literacy: On February 20, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) released a report on the severity of declining child literacy and its long-term effects, citing data from the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the 2022 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The report states that the results from the 2022 NAEP “show that the average reading score for fourth graders is lower than it has been in over 20 years,” and “for eighth- and twelfth-graders, average scores are at about a 30-year low.” Citing the 2022 PISA results, the report states that America’s average reading score was 504 out of 1000, the same as the average score in 2000. Ranking Member Cassidy expressed concerns over the potential impacts of declining literacy, including increasing rates of high school dropouts and incarceration, as well as the ability to fill STEM jobs and resulting risks in global economic competitiveness. Ranking Member Cassidy requests feedback on ways to improve literacy, which he hopes to use to develop potential legislative solutions. The report lists specific questions on which Ranking Member Cassidy is requesting feedback and can be submitted to by April 5.


House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Foxx raises concerns with DOL’s proposed regulations on apprenticeships and requests extension to comment period: On February 22, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to DOL Acting Secretary Julie Su requesting an extension on the comment period for the Department’s proposed rule on registered apprenticeships. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was issued on January 17 with a 60-day comment period closing on March 18. The proposed rule is aimed at enhancing worker protections and equity, improving the quality of registered apprenticeship programs, and more clearly establishing critical pipelines to registered apprenticeship programs, among other provisions. Chairwoman Foxx’s letter states that the proposed rule is “a blatant effort to circumvent the legislative process and expand the role of the federal government…[and] would significantly impact employers who participate in the registered apprenticeship system and diminish the role of states in registering apprenticeship programs.” The request for at least an additional 60 days notes that the DOL’s estimated two hours to review the 600-page proposed rule “is hardly sufficient for a single reading, much less conducting a substantive analysis of the impact of a proposed rule that includes 80 definitions and utilizes 48 different acronyms.” Chairwoman Foxx concludes, “Without an extension of the deadline, many smaller employers may simply be unable to participate effectively in the public comment period.”

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Foxx responds to New York Times op-ed on FAFSA delays: On February 20, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) wrote a letter to National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) President and CEO Justin Draeger and American Council on Education (ACE) President Ted Mitchell regarding their recent New York Times essay which claims that the USED’s challenges in implementing the new FAFSA form were caused by a lack of funding. Chairwoman Foxx writes that, “The Department had plenty of time to implement a bipartisan law that was passed over three years ago,” and continues that the Department instead “focused its energy” on student loan forgiveness efforts. The letter asserts that, “This is not a funding issue. This is a management one.”

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Foxx writes letter to USED Secretary Cardona regarding contracting process for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): On February 21, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to USED Secretary Cardona requesting information and action to change the contracting process for the NAEP. The letter follows an initial request in August 2023, which cited a 2022 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report that found increased need for stronger program management and better cost controls. Chairwoman Foxx expressed concern that the current contracting process “may stifle competition and discourage innovation.” The letter requests documentation on the independent audit of National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) financials for the period of FY2017 through FY2021, as well as 2023 NAGB meeting presentation materials.

Upcoming Events (Congress & Administration):

  • On March 7 at 10:00 a.m., the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a legislative hearing titled, “Legislation to Protect American Data and National Security from Foreign Adversaries.” Legislation to be discussed during the hearing includes H.R. 7520, the “Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Adversaries Act of 2024,” which would prohibit data brokers from transferring sensitive data of United States individuals to foreign adversaries. The hearing will be held in 2322 Rayburn House Office Building and livestreamed here.
  • On March 7 at 10:00 a.m., the House Oversight Committee will conduct a markup of several bills, including H.R. 7532, the “Federal AI Governance and Transparency Act,” which would establish Federal AI system governance requirements. The markup will be held in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building and livestreamed here
  • On March 7 at 10:00 a.m., the House Budget Committee will conduct a markup of the House Budget Resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2025. In announcing the markup, House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) released a statement that, “Our $34 trillion national debt has eclipsed the size of our economy—the largest in the world. Runaway spending and unsustainable debt are the greatest long-term threats to our national security and our children’s future.” The markup will be held in 210 Cannon House Office Building and livestreamed here.
  • On March 7 at 10:15 a.m., the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development will hold a hearing titled, “Divisive, Excessive, Ineffective: The Real Impact of DEI On College Campuses.” Witnesses include: Dr. Erec Smith, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, York College of Pennsylvania, Cato Research Fellow; Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, Chair, Do No Harm; Dr. James Murphy, Director of Career Pathways and Post-Secondary Policy, Education Reform Now; and Dr. Jay Greene, Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation's Center for Education Policy. The hearing will be held in 2175 Rayburn House Office Building and livestreamed here.
  • On March 7 at 9:00 p.m., President Biden will deliver his 2024 State of the Union address. Information on how to watch the address can be found here.
  • On March 11, President Bident will release his FY2025 Budget Request. Following the release of the budget, the USED will hold a briefing for education stakeholders at 3:00 p.m. in the Department’s Auditorium at 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC, 20202 (entrance through the C Street side of the building). Reservations are not required to attend in person. For security purposes, attendees are requested to bring a photo ID and a business card. The briefing will also be livestreamed here (registration required). Budget materials will be posted here.
  • On March 12 at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing to examine the President’s FY2025 Budget Request. The hearing will be held in 608 Dirksen Senate Office Building. There does not appear to be a livestream for this hearing. More information is here.
  • On March 12 at 10:15 a.m., the House Subcommittees on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions and Higher Education and Workforce Development will host a hearing titled, “Safeguarding Student-Athletes from NLRB Misclassification.” Witnesses have not yet been announced. The hearing will be held in 2175 Rayburn House Office Building and livestreamed here.
  • On March 12 at 2:00 p.m., the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Youth Apprenticeships: Building Partnerships, Strengthening Career Pathways.” Witnesses have not yet been announced. The hearing will be held in 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building. There does not appear to be a livestream for this hearing. More information is here.
  • On March 12 at 2:00 p.m., March 19 at 2:00 p.m., and March 26 at 2:00 p.m., the USED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) and the Student Engagement and Attendance Center (SEAC) will hold a virtual learning series titled, “Proactive Schoolwide Strategies for Supporting Attendance,” for state education agencies (SEAs), local education agencies (LEAs) and select partners. This learning series will provide the opportunity for SEAs to (1) establish asset-based common language and messaging around attendance, (2) discuss how to support LEAs with the implementation of strategies to assess school climate around attendance and engagement throughout the year, and (3) connect with peers to share challenges and brainstorm ways SEAs can support LEAs with the implementation of proactive schoolwide attendance strategies. Registration is here.
  • On March 14 at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing to examine the President’s FY2025 Budget Request for HHS. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra will testify at the hearing. The hearing will be held in 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building and livestreamed here.
  • From April 12 to 14, the USED will host the Spring Teach to Lead Summit, titled, “Leading for the Future: Improving the Educator Experience and Expanding Opportunities to Elevate the Profession.” The Spring summit will convene teams of PK-12 educators from across the country to engage in focused planning and thought partnership around innovative ideas to improve the educator experience and strengthen the education profession. Sessions at the summit will provide teams with collaboration time, skills development, and professional consultation to help teams plan for implementation and seek additional partners and support for their work. More information is here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On March 6 and 7 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., the National Summer Learning Association will host a 2024 Summer Planning Bootcamp. The two-day webinar series is designed to equip participants with tools, ideas, and best practices to elevate summer program planning. Sessions will explore the summer learning landscape, programming for youth mental health and wellbeing, and fostering student curiosity and creativity. More information and registration are here.
  • On March 7 at 11:00 a.m., ResearchEd will host a webinar titled, “2024 Policy Priorities in Rural Education.” This webinar will explore the pivotal intersection of childcare, K-12 education, and higher education in rural settings, including trends and developments for advocates and researches, as well as tangible calls to action. Presenters include: Rachel Rush-Marlowe, Founder and Executive Director, ResearchEd; Vanessa Sansone, Director of Policy, Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges; Taylor McCabe-Juhnke, Executive Director, Rural Schools Collaborative; and Mary Nugent, Early Childhood Education Advisor, Save the Children. More information and restoration are here.
  • On March 13 at 2:00 p.m., The Education Trust will host a webinar titled, “Resource Equity in Action: Developing Your Resource Equity Message.” The webinar is a second in a series on resource equity, where advocates will hear from communications experts about how to make the case for resource equity in their community using the power of messaging. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in an interactive activity to craft effective messages that speak to their community's specific needs and lead to more equitable resource allocation. More information and registration are here.
  • On March 14 at 2:00 p.m., the Hunt Institute will host a webinar titled, “Aligning Higher Education Curriculum with Workforce Needs.” The webinar will delve into the complexities of curriculum development in higher education and present strategies for curriculum redesign, the role of public policy in shaping educational outcomes, and the ethical considerations that come with such pivotal changes. Speakers include: Jennifer Freeman, Senior Director, Jobs for the Future; Dr. Harry Williams, President and CEO, Thurgood Marshall College Fund; Christopher Mullin, Strategy Director for Data and Measurement, the Lumina Foundation; and Crystal Folger-Hawks, Program Director, Surry-Yadkin Works. More information and registration are here.

Publications (Congress & Administration):

  • On February 26, the USED released a new toolkit titled, “Toolkit for the Promotion of Voter Participation for Students.” The toolkit acknowledges the critical role of schools, colleges, and universities in promoting civic engagement and provides them with strategies to support students. The toolkit includes explanations of current legal requirements for schools, recommendations for non-partisan steps they can take to expand voter participation across their student bodies, federal resources they can utilize and share to support voters in their communities, and examples from the field with effective and promising strategies from schools across the nation. The toolkit is in alignment with President Biden’s March 2021 Executive Order, “Promoting Access to Voting” which called on federal agencies to consider ways to expand opportunities for all Americans to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process.
  • On February 27, the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) released a new report titled, “Federal Efforts Towards Investing in Innovation through the i3 Fund: A Summary of Grantmaking and Evidence-Building.” The report details findings from evaluations of the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) program, which focused on expanding the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement and attainment. The Department reviewed 148 i3 evaluations to understand the key components of the grantees' educational strategies, assess the quality of the grantees' evaluations, and summarize what the evaluations found. Key findings showed that the most commonly implemented strategies involved professional development for educators to improve instruction and 76% of grantees produced rigorous evidence about their educational strategy. However, only 26% of the evaluations found at least one positive effect and no negative effects on student academic outcomes.
  • On February 29, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a new report titled, “Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2022 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey.” The report presents data on bullying in grades 6–12 from the 2022 School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The data tables detail rates of bullying disaggregated by student and school characteristics, such as sex, race/ethnicity, grade, household income, region, urbanicity, enrollment size, and school poverty. Additionally, the tables show rates of bullying by crime-related variables such as the presence of gangs, guns, drugs, alcohol, and hate-related graffiti at school, among other variables.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On February 16, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) published a new resource titled, “Sustainable State ESSER Investments in Literacy to Improve Student Performance.” The resource outlines top literacy improvement strategies funded through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, including professional learning for teachers and school leaders, out-of-school time learning, high-impact tutoring, high-quality instructional materials (HQIM), reading interventions and diagnostic and assessment tools. Additionally, the report examined investment trends, state examples, promising practices and strategies for long-term sustainability of effective State education agency (SEA) literacy programming funded through ESSER state set-aside dollars.
  • On February 21, SchoolHouse Connection published a new report titled, “Overlooked and Almost Out of Time: Pandemic-Era Funds for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness.” The report presents key findings from a national survey of school district homeless liaisons about the impact of and challenges using American Rescue Plan – Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) funds. Findings indicate that child and youth homelessness has increased since the pandemic, and ARP-HCY funds have proven to be impactful for schools in supporting children experiencing homelessness. The report makes several federal, state, and local recommendations, most notably recommending that Congress extend the obligation deadline by at least one school year to ensure that all ARP-HCY funds are used strategically to support increasing numbers of students experiencing homelessness. Additionally, the report recommends that the USED expedite and clarify the extended liquidation processes; provide clear, timely responses to all questions related to allowable use of ARP-HCY funds; and clarify that all of the allowable uses described in the September 2023 guidance extend to annual Education of Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) funding.
  • On February 27, The Wallace Foundation published a report titled, “Measuring Youth Development: How Out-of-School Time Programs Collect and Use Data.” The report looks at how afterschool, summer, and other out-of-school-time (OST) programs gauge their work and impact, as well as examines the obstacles programs face in doing so. The report also offers recommendations for how to remove those obstacles. One key takeaway from the report includes that, “[p]rograms faced several challenges in measuring their work and its impact. One was lack of easily accessible long-term data from school districts. Another was burdensome funder requirements.” An additional key takeaway from the report was that, “[p]rograms were thinking hard about how to better measure equity in their efforts. Approaches included disaggregating data by race and other variables, and tracking development of equity-related knowledge and skills.” The report was informed by interviews and surveys of staffers from OST programs that experts in the OST field recommended for study.    
  • On February 27, the RAND Corporation published a report titled, “Access to Mathematics Learning and Postsecondary Preparation Opportunities in High School.” Research covered five primary questions, studying the types of mathematics courses offered to students and how students are assigned to each course. Findings indicated that students in small schools, schools in which a majority of the students were living in poverty, or schools in rural areas were less likely to have access to Advanced Placement mathematics courses than students in other school settings. Additionally, research found that tracking, which is a practice that groups students in mathematics courses by achievement level, was common in high schools nationally. The report recommends expanded access to high school mathematics courses and ensuring that decisions about the mathematics pathways or courses into which students are grouped (or tracked) are made equitably.
  • On February 27, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association published a new resource titled, “FAFSA Simplification Guidebook.” The tool is designed to provide insights for state higher education agencies to navigate and understand both the benefits and implications associated with the change to a new simplified FAFSA in regard to state financial aid. The guidebook highlights changes to the new FAFSA and needs analysis formula, ways in which students and their families may be impacted, issues associated with the new FAFSA that state agencies and legislatures may want to consider, and examples on how the new needs analysis formula alters the eligibility distribution for state aid programs.
  • On February 28, the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) released a report titled, “The MOHELA Papers.” Investigating the actions of the Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri (MOHELA), the report found that MOHELA failed to perform loan servicing functions – including providing borrowers with access to correct information about their loans and options and processing basic forms – and has created a complex “call deflection” scheme. Results showed that more than four in ten student loan borrowers MOHELA services have experienced a servicing failure since loan payments resumed in September 2023. The report recommends that Congress hold hearings to ensure MOHELA’s executives are held accountable, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and state Attorneys General use their authority to enforce student loan borrowers’ basic consumer protection rights, and the USED ensure that borrowers are made whole for past, present, and future servicing errors.
  • On February 29, the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions published a new report titled, “Generational Jumps? How HSIs Promote Upward Mobility.” The report examined intergenerational income mobility for students at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and assessed variation in mobility measures across HSIs. The report showed that HSIs had significantly fewer resources than PWIs, and that HSI students were more likely to experience upward mobility than PWI students. Reflecting on the data showing that HSIs improve outcomes for the country’s highest-need student groups, the report offers several recommendations, including that, “Policy makers and funders alike should promote and advocate for additional funding to support HSIs.”
  • On March 1, Results for America released a new tool titled, “Education Evidence-Based Spending Guide.” The guide is designed to help SEA leaders build and use evidence to achieve better, more equitable outcomes through their grantmaking programs. The tool is designed around six key strategies that SEA leaders can use to incorporate evidence and data into their grantmaking program, including (1) define evidence, (2) prioritize evidence, (3) define desired outcomes, (4) build evidence through evaluations, (5) implement performance management, and (6) advance equity through grantmaking. Each section describes examples of how other government agencies have implemented the six strategies.


Introduced in the House of Representatives:

H.R. 7410
A bill to amend part A of title IV of the Social Security Act to establish deadlines for the obligation and expenditure of funds and allow States to establish rainy day funds under the program of block grants to States for temporary assistance for needy families.
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Casey (R-OH)

H.R. 7416
A bill to address food and housing insecurity on college campuses.
Sponsor: Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT)

H.R. 7457
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to count months during which Peace Corps volunteers and AmeriCorps members have eligible Federal Direct Loans in deferment or forbearance toward eligibility for public service loan forgiveness, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)

H.R. 7467
A bill to amend the Head Start Act to permit some teachers in Early Head Start programs to teach while earning a child development associate credential.
Sponsor: Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ)

H.R. 7477
A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to complete a data matching agreement with the Secretary of Education in order to ensure individuals who are current or former active-duty military service members or civilian employees and are otherwise eligible for assistance under the public service loan forgiveness program have their periods of employment automatically certified and counted towards the public service loan forgiveness program.
Sponsor: Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-WI)

H.R. 7478
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require institutions of higher education, as a condition of participation in programs under title IV of such Act, to include a prohibition of antisemitic conduct in all documents relating to student or employee conduct.
Sponsor: Rep. Rudy Yakym (R-IN)

H.R. 7488
A bill to increase the total maximum Federal Pell Grant, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA)

H.R. 7489
A bill to increase the recruitment and retention of school-based mental health services providers by low-income local educational agencies.
Sponsor: Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)

H.R. 7495
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to create a demonstration project for competency-based education and clarify eligible competency-based education programs.
Sponsor: Rep. Glenn Grothmann (R-WI)

H.R. 7502
A bill to direct the Secretary of Labor to provide for data collection and dissemination of information regarding programs under the national apprenticeship system, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH)

H.Res. 1022
A resolution expressing support for the designation of the month of March 2024 as "National March into Literacy Month.”
Sponsor: Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA)

H.Res. 1044
A resolution expressing support for the designation of February 2024 as "National Youth Leadership Month.”
Sponsor: Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)

Introduced in the Senate:

S. 3807
A bill to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to allow for deductions of student loan payments from income.
Sponsor: Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT)

S. 3825
A bill to amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to establish a State innovation demonstration authority.
Sponsor: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)

S. 3849
A bill to promote United States leadership in technical standards by directing the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of State to take certain actions to encourage and enable United States participation in developing standards and specifications for artificial intelligence and other critical and emerging technologies, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)