Press Room NEWSLETTERS
June 30, 2017

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...
Summer Learning
Year-Round Pell Grants
ESSA Update
President's Education Awards
Regulatory Reform
Odds and Ends
Quotes to Note
Upcoming Events

Summer Learning

With the kids out of school and the summer season underway, parents and families may want to consider formalized learning activities or programs to help prevent #SummerSlide. Summer Learning Day, from the National Summer Learning Association, is designed to spread awareness about the importance of summer programs that promote students' developmental growth, while keeping students safe and healthy. See the event map that lists activities throughout the country and explore what federal agencies—like those highlighted below—have to offer regarding leveraging educational content into summer learning.

  • Engage in Science. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) themed units engross kids in activities focused on life science, physical science, Earth and space science, and engineering.

  • Find out more about agriculture and related topics. The Department of Agriculture features kid-geared information on farming, forestry, food nutrition and safety, and natural resources conservation.

  • Learn about the weather, the water cycle, and ocean currents. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) educational resources include news, stories, multimedia, and "explainers."

  • Become a National Park Service Junior Ranger. For the Junior Ranger program, kids complete a series of activities during a park visit, share their answers with a ranger, and receive a patch and certificate.

These are just a few of the opportunities this summer that can facilitate kids' interest in different fields and promote learning in a fun-filled environment.

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Year-Round Pell Grants

Last week, Secretary DeVos announced year-round Pell Grants will be available to students beginning July 1. This policy change will ensure hundreds of thousands of college students have the resources needed to finish their coursework in a timeframe that meets their individual needs.

"This decision is about empowering students and giving them the flexibility and support needed to achieve their goals," the Secretary said. "Expanding access to the Pell [Grant] program, so that students who need additional resources can graduate more quickly and with less debt, is the right thing to do."

The change in the Pell Grant program will allow an eligible student to receive up to 150% of the student's federal Pell Grant scheduled award starting with the 2017-18 award year. To be eligible for the additional Pell Grant funding, the student must be eligible to receive Pell Grant funds for the payment period and be enrolled at least half-time (press release and Dear Colleague Letter).

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ESSA Update

This week, the Department provided initial feedback to more states—Connecticut, Louisiana, New Jersey, Oregon, and Tennessee—that submitted state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in April. States received notes from external, independent peer reviewers, as well as specific information from Department staff about changes needed to ensure they are fully meeting the requirements of the statute. Providing a preliminary determination letter and peer feedback is an opportunity for the agency to work with states, offering technical assistance to help improve outcomes for students.

Earlier, responding to inquiries following the release of initial feedback on state plans, the agency issued a series of Frequently Asked Questions. Each state may clarify or revise its submission, but no state is required to do so. The review process concludes with the Secretary's review and determination of whether the state has met the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements of the ESSA.

Meanwhile, in a letter to Chief State School Officers, Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Jason Botel informed states and school districts that they have an additional year (until the 2018-19 school year) to implement a new requirement under Title I, Part A to include on annual report cards the per-pupil expenditures of federal, state, and local funds for each district and school for the preceding fiscal year—disaggregated by source. He also underscored steps the Department is taking to support states and districts in implementing this important requirement. In the long-term, the Department plans to review and revise non-regulatory guidance on the report cards.

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President's Education Awards

Since 1983, the President's Education Awards Program (PEAP) has bestowed individual recognition from the President to students whose outstanding efforts have enabled them to meet challenging standards of excellence. School principals determine the number of qualifying students based on selection criteria and verify orders for awards. There is no limit on the number of awards, as long as students meet the criteria. Students receive a certificate and congratulatory letter signed by the President and the Secretary. This year, nearly three million elementary, middle, and high school students from over 30,000 schools were recognized under PEAP. (Note: A list of 2017 PEAP participating schools by state is posted online.)

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Regulatory Reform

On June 22, Secretary DeVos released the following statement on the progress report of the Department's Regulatory Reform Task Force, established in response to President Trump's Executive Order 13777.

"The Regulatory Reform Task Force has been hard at work over the last few months, cataloging over 150 regulations and more than 1,700 pieces of policy guidance on the books at the Department.... As their work continues, they have been tasked with providing recommendations on which regulations to repeal, modify, or keep in an effort to ensure those that remain adequately protect students while giving states, institutions, teachers, parents, and students the flexibility needed to improve student achievement.

"To ensure an open and transparent process, the Task Force's progress report will be published on the Department's web site. I look forward to the Task Force's continued work and to hearing from the public as we work to prioritize the needs of students over unnecessary and burdensome requirements."

The Task Force is comprised of both political appointees and career civil servants at the agency.

The Department recently published a Federal Register notice to provide the public the opportunity to submit comments concerning regulations and policy guidance they recommend the agency review, modify, or repeal. Comments are due by August 21.

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Odds and Ends

  • The House of Representatives recently passed a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

  • On June 27, the Department's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced the interest rates for student loans made under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program on or after July 1, 2017, but before July 1, 2018.

  • Also, the Secretary announced her intent to appoint Dr. Wayne Johnson as Chief Operating Officer of FSA. He has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry and holds a Ph.D. in higher education leadership. His research focus is in the area of student loan indebtedness decision-making; as such, the Secretary has charged him with executing her vision to simplify and modernize the federal student aid process, treat students as valued customers afforded the protections and respect they deserve, and ensure that federal tax dollars are spent wisely.

  • A new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), "Early Millennials: The Sophomore Class of 2002 a Decade Later," examines the extent to which 2002 high school sophomores achieved various milestones of early adulthood as of 2012, when most of them were 26-years-old, including high school completion, enrollment in postsecondary education, and progress toward or completion of a college degree. The report also looks at family formation (marriage and having children), as well as employment status and earnings.

  • The Department's new Protecting Student Privacy web site replaces both the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) sites. It contains all previously issued guidance and resources and reorganizes a number of sections to make it more user-friendly.

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Quotes to Note

"This decision [in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer] marks a great day for the Constitution and sends a clear message that religious discrimination in any form cannot be tolerated in a society that values the First Amendment. We should all celebrate the fact that programs designed to help students will no longer be discriminated against by the government based solely on religious affiliation."

        Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (6/26/17), in a statement on the Supreme Court's ruling, holding the government may not deny a generally available benefit on account of religious identity

"[Mitchell Chester] will be greatly missed! The students of Massachusetts lost a dedicated advocate, and the education community lost a thoughtful leader."

        Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (6/27/17), tweeting on the untimely passing of the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education and longest-serving of the nation's current Chief State School Officers

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Upcoming Events

FSA's summer webinar schedule is in full swing. Register today for July sessions on FSA ID (July 11), Understanding Loan Repayment (July 19), and How to Manually Input Tax Information (July 27).

The Department, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and ASCD announced that Teach to Lead will host its next Teacher Leadership Summit September 22-24 in Austin, Texas, bringing together teacher leaders and other stakeholders to collaborate, problem solve, and develop action plans to benefit students and schools. Every team must contain at least one practicing classroom teacher, and idea submissions—due by August 9 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time—may address any perceived area of need within schools, districts, or states.

Registration is now open for the 2017 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Conference, September 17-19 in Arlington, Virginia. Some 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

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Last Modified: 06/30/2017