Press Room NEWSLETTERS
November 18, 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...
Transfer of Power
Supporting Servicemembers and Veterans
College Completion Resources
Graduate Earnings Data
Innovation Grants
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Transfer of Power

The peaceful transfer of power is a bedrock principle of American democracy. President Obama was grateful for the time and care put into the 2008 transition by President George W. Bush's Administration. In turn, he directed his own team to make a smooth transition between administrations a top priority of his final year in office—even as he remained committed to using the remaining days of his presidency to deliver on his agenda for the American people.

As with past presidential transitions, the federal government has been engaging with President-Elect Donald Trump's Transition Team. Soon, Agency Review Teams selected by the President-Elect will begin reaching out to designated counterparts at agencies across the government. These teams will receive detailed, agency-specific briefings—including organizational charts, budget materials, and background on priorities and areas of responsibility—prepared by current Administration officials.

Also, designated agency staff will work with their Agency Review Teams to facilitate open communication between the outgoing and incoming administrations.

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Supporting Servicemembers and Veterans

On Veterans' Day (November 11), the President announced new measures to ensure that servicemembers, veterans, and their families are treated fairly when they use federal education benefits. Building on the Principles of Excellence and other executive actions, the Obama Administration is expanding on these efforts by issuing a Presidential Memorandum that outlines additional steps, including: establishing a pilot program to inform school choice; improving data-sharing among federal agencies; expanding the use of online tools; promoting military apprenticeship programs; amending the Post-9/11 GI Bill; cracking down on deceptive marketing; and formalizing collaboration across the government. Through these steps, the President is making sure the good work done by the Administration will carry forward and servicemembers, veterans, and their families will have the tools they need to succeed in today's economy.

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College Completion Resources

On November 15, in remarks at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities annual meeting, Secretary King discussed the Obama Administration's commitment to expanding access and ensuring successful outcomes among students pursuing a higher education; the urgent need for colleges and universities to serve an increasingly diverse and non-traditional student body; and accelerated actions across the federal government to support the most vulnerable students in completing their studies and thriving in the economy.

Better alignment of existing federal resources can make a big difference for college access and completion. As such, the Departments of Education, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and Treasury announced a joint commitment to align federal supports and program delivery. These efforts will help break down critical barriers many Americans face in accessing the knowledge and skills needed to get a well-paying job, support their families, and contribute to society. For example, the Department of Education earlier issued guidance on supporting unaccompanied homeless youth through Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion and guidance on what defines an Ability to Benefit (ATB) program for students pursuing a postsecondary education without a high school degree.

Additionally, the Administration has worked to protect students and taxpayers, through gainful employment regulations (see below) to stop the flow of federal funds to poor-performing career college programs; strengthening state authorization requirements; defining the credit hour; safeguarding students from bad actor institutions and holding financially risky institutions accountable under the newly published borrower defense rule; and increasing rigor in accreditation processes.

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Graduate Earnings Data

As part of the Obama Administration's efforts to help students make more informed decisions about where to enroll for postsecondary education and to protect students from career training programs with poor outcomes, the Department released earnings data for career college programs. The data represents the mean and median earnings of graduates of career college programs, reported by the Social Security Administration under the gainful employment regulations. Roughly 3,700 institutions nationwide offer career training programs subject to the regulations.

The data shows that graduates of career training programs at public institutions generally fare better than those of comparable programs at for-profit colleges. Highlights include:

  • overall, mean earnings of graduates from public undergraduate certificate programs are nearly $9,000 higher than mean earnings of graduates of for-profit undergraduate certificate programs;
  • graduates of certificate programs at public institutions are more likely to have attended programs that provide training for higher earning fields—such as nursing—than graduates of certificate programs at for-profit colleges; and
  • nearly a third (32%) of for-profit certificate students graduated from programs where the typical graduate earned less than what a full-time minimum wage worker earns in a year ($14,500), compared with only 14% in the public sector.

This data will be used to calculate debt-to-earnings rates that will determine whether a career college program is serving students well or leaving them with poor employment prospects and unaffordable debt.

Consistently low-performing programs that fail to improve their quality will be barred from participating in federal student aid programs. Starting in January 2017, institutions must disclose to current and prospective students program earnings and other information, such as costs and graduation rates, as well as whether their programs are failing to meet the gainful employment standards.

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Innovation Grants

Secretary King announced last week the highest-rated applications for grants under this year's $103 million Investing in Innovation (i3) competition, aimed at developing innovative approaches to improve student achievement and replicating effective strategies across the nation. These potential grantees must secure matching funds by next month in order to receive program funding. (Note: In previous years, all highest-rated applications have secured matching funds and become grantees.) Of the 15 applications, 10 are in the Development category (supporting promising new ideas for further development; maximum $3 million each), three are in the Validation category (supporting expanded implementation of established approaches with moderate evidence of effectiveness; maximum $12 million each); and two are in the Scale-Up category (supporting the growth of models with strong evidence of effectiveness; maximum $20 million each). Awards will be made by December 31. To date, i3 has awarded $1.3 billion to 157 grantees out of 4,685 applications. (Note: For the first time in the program's history, the potential grantees include an organization using a Scale-Up award to expand a program launched under a Development grant and refined under a Validation award.)

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Odds and Ends

  • Congratulations to Thomas Tucker, superintendent of Ohio's Princeton City Schools, who was named 2016 National Superintendent of the Year.

  • Also, among the recently named recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom is Eduardo Padron, President of Miami Dade College.

  • The Department's Family Ambassador, Frances Frost, penned a special blog post encouraging families to identify and celebrate "the people in your village"—the critical support network caring for and supporting their child—by offering words and/or pictures using #myVillage and @FamiliesatED.

  • Building on the Obama Administration's efforts to modernize how the federal government works with cities, counties, and communities, the President signed an Executive Order establishing a Council on Community Solutions. This council formalizes a structure for federal agencies to strengthen partnerships with communities and improve coordination in order to more effectively deliver assistance and maximize its impact. (Note: Some federal-local success stories are spotlighted in a post on Medium.)

  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy added its voice to the conversation on leveraging virtual and augmented reality to improve education. A blog post cites the EdSim Challenge that prompts developers to create learning tools to support career and technical education.

  • The agency awarded grants to Hawaii, Minnesota, and Washington State under the Asian American/ Pacific Islander (AAPI) Data Disaggregation Initiative to help improve data collection of AAPI students and identify effective practices to close achievement and opportunity gaps through data analysis.

  • The agency also awarded over $104 million in grants to 104 Minority Serving Institutions to improve their capacity to serve Hispanic, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Native American, and low-income students.

  • This month, the Department announced it is imposing a record fine of $2.4 million on Penn State University for failing to comply with the Clery Act after a review prompted by on-campus sex offenses involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The penalty—the largest ever assessed for Clery violations—covers 11 major findings of non-compliance related to the institution's handling of Sandusky's crimes and the university's long-standing failure to comply with federal requirements on campus safety and substance abuse.

  • A National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report presents results from the U.S. Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) Prison Study. In particular, more than half of adult prisoners lack the basic literary and numeracy skills needed for pursuing higher education, securing a job, or participating fully in society. (Note: In a corresponding Dear Colleague Letter, Secretary King urges states to make use of expanded resources under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act [WIOA] to provide for more high-quality education programs in correctional facilities.)

  • Another NCES report, "Changes in America's Public School Facilities," compares characteristics of public school facilities in 1989-99 and 2012-13, including the average age of public schools, ratings of satisfaction of the environmental quality of facilities, the cost to put buildings in good condition, and short-range plans for improvement.

  • The 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange found that the number of international students at colleges and universities in the U.S. increased by 7%, to a record high of 1,043,839 in the 2015-16 academic year, while U.S. students studying abroad increased by just 3%.

  • The National Coalition for Aviation and Space Education (NCASE), a membership organization formed in cooperative spirit with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), provides a gateway for students, educators, and the public seeking information and materials supporting aerospace education.

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Quote to Note

"Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we're actually all on one team.... We're not Democrats first. We're not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We're patriots first. We all want what's best for this country. That's what I heard in Mr. Trump's remarks last night. That's what I heard when I spoke to him directly.... That's what the country needs—a sense of unity; a sense of inclusion; a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law; and a respect for each other. I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout this transition, and I certainly hope that's how his presidency has a chance to begin."

        President Barack Obama (11/9/16), speaking to White House staff on the 2016 Election

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Upcoming Events

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funds tuition-free summer programs for school and college educators. Participants receive stipends to help cover travel and living expenses. Programs are held across the country. These one- to five-week study opportunities focus on important topics, texts, and questions in the humanities; enhance the intellectual vitality and professional development of participants; build a community of inquiry and provide strong models of scholarship and teaching; and promote connections between teaching and research in the humanities. The deadline for applications is March 1, 2017.

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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: 11/22/2016