DC Shuttle …
House and Senate Conference Pass No Child Left Behind Reform. A Senate and House Conference Committee approved legislation which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, an update to No Child Left Behind, which expired in 2007. The committee voted 38 to 1 to pass a framework, which staff had crafted from the versions passed on the chambers’ floors. With a framework in place early last week, members moved quickly to pass it through conference, with the possibility of getting the legislation signed by President Obama this year. On Tuesday, the House voted to go to conference on No Child Left Behind and on Wednesday, the Senate followed suit. On Thursday the conference approved the framework of what lawmakers will be calling the Every Student Succeeds Act. An outline provided by the House and Senate education committees Wednesday gave more detail on the deal. Under the framework, states will have more flexibility in measuring school performance. Measurements must be based in part on test scores, graduation rates and English-language proficiency. States may also use other factors such as student and parent engagement and school climate if they wish. The framework includes a mandate that states identify and intervene in the bottom 5% of schools and requires college- and career-readiness standards. Title I portability will reportedly not be part of the final package. Under the new state accountability system, states would have to identify and intervene in schools in three circumstances: in the bottom 5% of schools; in “dropout factories” where few students graduate; and in schools where a group of students are consistently underperforming. The bill would bar the federal government from mandating standards like the Common Core. The bill maintains dedicated funding for afterschool programs and STEM education and a new pre-K program championed by Sen. Patty Murray. The text of the final bill will be available Nov. 30. It will likely be on the House and Senate floors in early December. The White House has not signaled if it will approve the bill and earlier expressed reservations about the House version.
Joint Hearing on Federal Student Aid. The House Education and the Workforce Higher Education Subcommittee and a House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Government Operations held a joint hearing on federal student aid. Ben Miller, senior director at the Center for American Progress and a former U.S. Education Department employee, testified that the current structure of the department’s Federal Student Aid office “works very well with getting dollars out the door to students,” but it hinders the office from addressing problems such as the rising burden of college costs being shouldered by students and families.
Hearing on Education Information Security. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the security of education information. The hearing addressed the security of student loan information and a recent report by the Government Accountability Office that suggested the data was not properly protected.
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Considers GI Benefit Bill. The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing to consider a bill (S. 2253) sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and others that would restore GI Bill benefits to veterans who attended Corinthian College, which closed this year. Under current law, the Department of Veterans Affairs lacks the authority to restore GI Bill benefits to veterans even if they are victims of fraud or their school closes. Under the Veterans Education Relief and Restoration Act, veterans whose campuses close would be eligible to have their GI Bill benefits restored and continue to receive a monthly housing benefit.
ED Expands Competency-Based Education Experiment.
The Education Department announced that it will expanding its competency-based education experiment to include programs that charge a flat fee over a period of time rather than charging by course or by competency.
We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of Nov. 23, 2015. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.