Press Room NEWSLETTERS
July 10, 2015

ED Review ... ...a bi-weekly update on U.S. Department of Education activities relevant to the Intergovernmental and Corporate community and other stakeholders

What's inside...
Rights for Families
ESEA Reauthorization
Leaders Supporting Teachers
Protecting College Students
IDEA Determination Letters
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Rights for Families

On June 26, Secretary Duncan announced a set of rights that outlines what families should be able to expect for their children's education. "I want to describe educational rights that I firmly believe must belong to every family in America, and I hope you'll demand that your leaders in elected or appointed offices deliver on them," he stated during a speech to the 2015 National Parent Teacher Association Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. "They come together as a set of rights that students must have at three pivotal stages of life—to prepare them for success in college and careers and as engaged, productive citizens" (see press release, blog post, and web site).

To help prepare every student for success in life, families have the right to:

  • free, quality preschool;
  • high, challenging standards and engaging teaching and leadership in a safe, supportive, well-resourced school; and
  • an affordable, quality college degree.

The Secretary's announcement of this set of rights complements the Department's work to reach out to parents—from the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships, to tools that can help students and families select the best colleges for their needs, to support of Parent Training and Information Centers and resource centers.

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ESEA Reauthorization

This week, in advance of the consideration of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorizations bills in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz and Secretary Duncan held a press call and issued a new report.

"We've made a tremendous amount of progress, but it's also true that we have a tremendous amount of work to do to ensure equity and opportunity for every student in this country," Muñoz emphasized. "The achievement data in the report paints a stark picture of the vast deficiency gaps between the lowest 5% of schools and other schools.... Currently neither bill being considered in the House or Senate has sufficient accountability provisions to ensure that every child who needs the help the most will get the support that they need. That's unacceptable. And, the Administration believes strongly that we need to make improvements as both bills move forward in the legislative process."

"The Senate's bill has some important provisions," the Secretary explained. "It eliminates the proscriptive, one-size-fits-all approach of No Child Left Behind and includes expanding access to high-quality preschool, which is the best investment we as a nation can make. It also makes critical investments in innovation and scaling what works and provides important supports for teachers and principals. It also continues ensuring that students are held to high standards and that parents, teachers, and communities receive comparable data every year. However, to live up to ESEA's legacy as a civil rights law, we join with numerous business and civil rights groups in urging that further improvements be made to the bill to make it a law that will further equity rather than moving backwards.... Every family and community deserves more than transparency—they deserve action.... They deserve to know that if students...fall behind, their schools will take steps to improve with the strongest action in the lowest-performing 5% schools."

The White House also issued a new Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on S. 1177, the Senate's ESEA bill. (A SAP on H.R. 5, the House's ESEA bill, was issued in February.)

And, Secretary Duncan, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Wade Henderson penned a blog post: "Fixing ESEA: Looking Out for All Students."

Also: On July 9, the Department announced that five states and Puerto Rico have received approval for continued flexibility from provisions of ESEA. These recipients are implementing comprehensive, state-designed plans to ensure student success and a continued commitment to college- and career-readiness for every student. Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico have three additional years of flexibility, through the 2017-18 school year, while Delaware, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma have one more year of flexibility. (Note: Approved flexibility requests and renewal letters are available here.)

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Leaders Supporting Teachers

Teachers across the country are working together to increase student success. They are learning from data, from test scores to parent feedback, and engaging students through meaningful work to prepare them for college and careers. For a closer look at how classrooms are being transformed, the Department launched a behind-the-scenes video series. In the fourth video in the series, learn how Lehigh Senior High School in Florida turned around to become one of the most sought-after schools in its school district. This turnaround was achieved through leadership committed to providing ongoing professional development for teachers, an empowered and cohesive teaching force, and a relentless focus on advancing student success through best practices.

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Protecting College Students

It has been a busy two weeks on the higher education front:

  • On July 1, the Administration's signature effort to protect students and taxpayers—gainful employment regulations—went into effect, strengthening oversight that will end the flow of federal student aid to career training programs that leave students buried in debt with few opportunities to repay it. Under the new regulations, a program would be considered to lead to gainful employment if the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20% of his or her discretionary income or 8% of his or her total earnings. Programs that exceed these levels would be at risk of losing their ability to participate in federal student aid programs. (Note: In an op-ed by published by Politico magazine, Secretary Duncan calls on Congress to hold "shady colleges" accountable.)
  • Also on July 1, the Department's state authorization regulations went into effect, clarifying states' role to approve institutions and monitor public complaints about their operations. The agency has provided ample time—over four years—for states and institutions to comply with requirements. Now, if an institution is found to be out of compliance during the Department's normal review process, it risks losing its eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs.
  • Moreover, final regulations are now in effect implementing changes made to the Clery Act by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The regulations: (1) increase transparency by adding dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking to the list of crimes about which an institution must disclose statistics to the public, its campus community, and the Department and (2) require institutions to make enhanced disclosures regarding disciplinary proceedings used to resolve allegations concerning these crimes, protective measures provided by the institution following an allegation of these crimes, and the training programs in place to better inform its campus community about awareness and prevention. In the months ahead, the agency will work with institutions, states, and advocates to expand shared knowledge, identify best practices and prevention models, and increase capacity to combat sexual violence (blog post).
  • Then, on July 7, the Department announced its plans to give an additional six million borrowers access to student loan payments capped at 10% of income; create a streamlined process to identify military servicemembers who hold Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program loans and who are eligible for lower interest rates while on active duty (a process the agency already uses for servicemembers with Direct Loans); and require guaranty agencies to contact FFEL borrowers who rehabilitated their defaulted loans to provide them information on repayment plans, including income-driven repayment options, to help them decide which repayment plan to choose (press release).
  • The Department also updated lists on its College Affordability and Transparency Center, highlighting institutions with the highest and lowest costs and those where costs are increasing rapidly.

Also: The America's College Promise Act of 2015, which would make two years of community college free and provide an affordable pathway to a four-year college degree for low-income students, was introduced in the House and Senate.

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IDEA Determination Letters

As required by law, the Department has issued annual determination letters regarding states' implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Each state was evaluated on key indicators under Part B (ages 3 through 21) and Part C (infants through age 2) and placed into one of four categories: meets requirements, needs assistance, needs intervention, and needs substantial intervention. Most states fell into the top categories; 19 states met requirements for Part B, and 21 states met requirements for Part C. No state needs substantial intervention. The IDEA identifies specific technical assistance or enforcement actions that the agency must undertake for states that do not meet requirements. (Note: For the first time in 2014 and in 2015, the agency made Part B determinations using both compliance and results data, giving each equal weight. For the first time in 2015, the agency made Part C determinations using both compliance and results data, given each equal weight. The Department's accountability framework, known as Results-Driven Accountability, brings into focus the outcomes of children with disabilities.)

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Odds and Ends

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Quote to Note

"Ask every politician—across the political spectrum, at the local, state, and national levels—what's your plan to improve student outcomes? What's your plan to ensure that students not only go to college in increasing numbers but also graduate—and do so without a burden of debt that will hinder their life choices? What's your concrete goal for high school graduation rates, and how will you accomplish it? Will you fund high-quality early childhood education? Challenge the people who need your vote. Ask them to earn your vote by doing right by your children and by every child in this country. Demand that they deliver on the rights of your family and every family."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (6/26/15), in remarks at the 2015 National Parent Teacher Association Convention

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Upcoming Events

Throughout the summer, many organizations are encouraging students and their families to participate in summer reading. The National PTA has launched a Family Reading Challenge through July, Book It! Summer Reading Challenge runs through August, and the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge kicked-off in May. Many other organizations have an array of summer reading resources to keep kids reading, including Reading Rockets, PBS Kids, Reading is Fundamental, and Common Sense Media, among others.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 07/10/2015