Press Room NEWSLETTERS
July 8, 2016

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...
On the Record
Schools Not Prisons
ESSA Update
Protecting Student Borrowers
Supporting Individuals with Disabilities
WIOA Final Rules
Quotes to Note
Upcoming Events

On the Record

Last week, Secretary King delivered two significant policy addresses, calling on charter schools to become leaders in rethinking student discipline and parents and teachers to promote student and teacher diversity.

First, at the National Charter Schools Conference in Nashville, he encouraged charter schools to "focus on innovating to lead the way for our children." "Discipline is a nuanced and complicated issue," he said. "Yet, the public discussion of these issues is often binary—pitting one extreme against another. It's zero tolerance or chaos. Authoritarian control or no discipline at all. So, I'll say it upfront: I am not here to offer any hard-and-fast rules or directives. But, I believe the goal for all schools should be to create a school culture that motivates students to want to do their best, to support their classmates, and to give back to their community and to communicate to our students and educators in ways big and small that their potential is unlimited" (remarks and video).

To shine a light on best practices in school discipline, the Department supported creation of a suite of resources by the National Charter Schools Resource Center to help charter school leaders as they rethink discipline practices. These resources include a toolkit for practitioners, a set of case studies that chronicle the choices and implementation dynamics experienced by charter school leaders, and a compendium of professional development tools. Also, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice have worked with educators through the #RethinkDiscipline campaign.

Second, at the National PTA Convention in Orlando, the Secretary urged parents and teachers to take charge of improving diversity in their classrooms and schools. "Today, diversity it not a nicety but a necessity, not just for some students but for all our students," he said. "What I'm asking you today is to act not only in the interest of someone else's kids but also to act boldly in the interest of your own. I'm asking you to demand diversity, not just in schools but also in the classrooms within those schools. It's not enough for kids from diverse background to just pass each other in the hallways or on the playground. True diversity requires students to actually learn alongside one another" (video and The Atlantic article).

Research shows that more diverse organizations make better decisions with better results. The effects of socioeconomic diversity can be especially powerful for students from low-income families, who, historically, often have not had equal access to the resources they need to succeed. These efforts build on President Obama's Stronger Together proposal—a voluntary program to support the development, implementation, and expansion of community-driven strategies to increase socioeconomic diversity in America's public schools.

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Schools Not Prisons

This week, the Department issued a report revealing that state and local spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of funding for public preschool-through-twelfth-grade in the last three decades. "Trends in State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education" notes that, even when population changes are factored in, 23 states increased per capita spending on corrections at more than double the rate of increases in per-pupil PK-12 spending, and seven states increased corrections budgets more than five times as fast as allocations for PK-12 education. The report also paints a bleak picture of higher education spending across the country at a time when postsecondary education matters more than ever. Since 1990, state and local spending on higher education has been largely flat, while spending on corrections has increased 89% (press call audio and post on Medium).

The U.S. spends over $80 billion annually on corrections. A better path forward would be increasing investment in education, which could improve skills, opportunities, and positive outcomes for at-risk children and youth, particularly if the additional funds are focused on high-poverty schools. Investing more in increasing school success for disadvantaged students could also reduce disciplinary issues and help reverse the school-to-prison pipeline.

Last fall, former Secretary Arne Duncan advised states and communities to invest in teachers rather than prisons by finding alternative paths for non-violent offenders of incarceration, nothing the $15 billion that could be saved by finding alternate paths for just half of non-violent offenders is enough for a 50% raise to every teacher and principal working in high-needs schools and communities (remarks and state analysis).

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ESSA Update

Also this week, the Department released two Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) to implement Title I provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regarding assessments (fact sheet and video with teachers).

The Part A proposed regulation seeks to ensure states continue to administer tests that are fair measures of student achievement for all students, with particular focus on ensuring states appropriately capture and measure the progress of English Learners and students with disabilities. It would allow states to take advantage of a range of innovative approaches to improve testing and reduce the burden of tests, including utilizing computer-adaptive assessments, implementing smaller interim assessments in place of large summative assessments, and employing diverse measures like performance-based assessments. It would also implement flexibilities such as allowing school districts to offer locally selected, nationally recognized high school assessments in place of the annual statewide high school assessment. This regulation was subject to negotiated rulemaking and achieved consensus among negotiators in the spring.

The Part B proposed regulation establishes a rigorous—but achievable—process for a small set of states to take advantage of new innovative assessment demonstration authority. Up to seven states would be permitted to phase-in and use a new system for accountability in a subset of their school districts, while maintaining the existing system in the rest. As innovative assessments are administered and used for accountability and reporting in schools, pilot states would apply the lessons learned from implementation to improve their systems and take these projects to scale, building a new statewide assessment system over five years.

Both regulations will be published in the Federal Register on July 11, with public comments due by September 9.

Meanwhile, the agency has posted online an updated set of ESSA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

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Protecting Student Borrowers

Special Master Joseph Smith recently delivered his fourth and last borrower defense progress report, detailing the numbers and status of borrower defense claims and the Department's continued efforts to reach former Corinthian College students who may be eligible for relief based on federal findings of school misconduct. The report also describes the creation of a new application form to facilitate borrower defense discharge claims. The Student Aid Enforcement Unit, within the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), will oversee the borrower defense program and continue to provide periodic reports.

Also: The Department officially launched the FSA Feedback System, an online portal that allows federal student aid customers to submit complaints, provide positive feedback, and report allegations of suspicious activity regarding their experience with federal student aid programs. Data collected through the system will be shared with partner agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Sentinel Network, to resolve complaints beyond the scope of the agency's oversight, such as those involving private student loans. The Department aims to publish the first annual report from the feedback system this fall.

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Supporting Individuals with Disabilities

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 two groups; 26 states met requirements for Part B, and 30 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 again in 2015 and 2016, the agency made Part B determinations using both compliance and results data, giving each equal weight. Similarly, for the first time in 2015 and again in 2016, the agency made Part C determinations using both compliance and results data, giving each equal weight. The Department's accountability framework, known as Results-Driven Accountability, brings into focus the outcomes of children with disabilities.)

Also: The Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has reached settlements with education organizations in seven states and one territory to ensure web site accessibility for people with disabilities. OCR had received complaints involving each of the organizations, resulting in investigations. But, before OCR had completed its probe, each of the 11 organizations expressed interest in resolving their cases voluntarily—committing to a range of actions which require OCR review and approval at critical stages.

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WIOA Final Rules

On June 30, the Departments of Labor and Education made publicly available final rules to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The regulations deliver on the need to modernize the education and workforce system and represent a more integrated, job-driven approach to support communities and expand job growth. They reflect input from stakeholders—including employers and other community leaders—and detail what the goals of an agile and effective education and workforce should be and how partners can work to achieve those goals.

The final rules consist of: a joint rule, issued by both agencies—in collaboration with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development—implementing co-administered state planning, performance accountability, and one-step delivery system requirements; a Department of Labor rule implementing activities under Title I (Adult, Dislocated Worker, Youth, Job Corps, and National Programs) and Title III (amending the Wagner-Peyser Act); and three Department of Education rules implementing requirements of Title II (Adult Education and Family Literacy Act) and Title IV (amending the Rehabilitation Act of 1973). The regulations and accompanying resources are available at the Labor/Employment and Training Administration (ETA) WIOA site, the Education/Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) WIOA site, and the Education/Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) WIOA site. Also, watch this video on what WIOA means for you and how to access available services.

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Quotes to Note

"In rethinking discipline, charters have the opportunity to lead the way on professional reflection and growth. I'll start by admitting that I had an internal debate about whether to even raise this issue today—whether I could capture its complexity. I co-founded Roxbury Prep—a charter school in Boston—where we had high expectations for students' behavior as well as for their academic pursuits. And as a managing director at Uncommon Schools, we sought to scale the success of Roxbury Prep and other early high-performing urban charters.... But today, with the benefit of all we have learned over the last 20 years, the leaders of Uncommon Schools are rightly rethinking discipline. Early on, we had begun to integrate school counseling, mentoring, and support groups, but we did not do it fast enough. We all must commit to accelerate exactly this kind of work."

        Secretary of Education John King (6/28/16), from his remarks at the National Charter Schools Conference

"The transformative power of diversity in education is enormous; it boosts empathy and reduces bias and greatly increases the chances that low-income students will attend college—without in any way compromising the academic outcomes of their middle class peers. It exposes students to perspectives and ideas that enlarge their world views. Diversity also increases the likelihood students will succeed and become leaders in their careers and communities. Because success today requires mastering the art of working productively with folks whose experiences are different from your own.... The task before all of us is not to hide from reality—a reality that can and will make us stronger—but to make sure America's students are the best positioned in the world to thrive in it and to lead it."

        Secretary of Education John King (7/1/16), from his remarks at the National PTA Convention

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Upcoming Events

Attention higher education presidents, faculty, staff, and students! Register now for the sixth annual President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge National Gathering, September 22 and 23 on the Gallaudet University campus in Washington, D.C. Participants will have opportunities to tell stories about what is happening on their campus, learn about best practices, and celebrate ongoing work, so that they will return to their campuses truly inspired to take the President's challenge to the next level.

Also, register today for the 2016 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference, October 23-26 in Arlington, Virginia. Approximately 600 representatives from black colleges and universities, federal agencies, corporations, and foundations are expected to participate in discussions on issues of interest to the HBCU community.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

ED Review is a product of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications and Outreach, State and Local Engagement—Lindsay O'Mara, Deputy Assistant Secretary

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Last Modified: 07/11/2016