Senate Bill Would Boost Grad Rates for Low-Income Students

DC Shuttle …

Bill on Federal Funding Introduced. U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced a bill to reshuffle federal funding of colleges to encourage institutions to enroll and graduate low-income students. The bill would tie some federal student aid funding to new accountability metrics. The bill is aimed at providing incentives for colleges to boost graduation rates—rewarding schools that both expand access and improve completion rates and giving more resources to schools that serve high numbers of Pell Grant students but struggle to graduate them.

English Language Learner Guidelines. The U.S. Education Department released new guidelines on how states and school districts can better serve students whose first language isn’t English. The guidelines explain how states and districts can spend money through Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which provides federal funds for English-language learners and immigrant students. English-language learners are estimated to be nearly 10% of the student population nationwide, the department says. The guidelines also address specific populations of English-language learners, like those with disabilities and preschoolers. The Education Department recommends that states start planning this fall or winter to accommodate changes involving English-language learners that take effect under ESSA. For example, the new law moved some things out of Title III and into Title I, and it set new requirements. And states must establish entrance and exit procedures for English-language learners. The Education Department announced $22 million in grants to support pre-service and in-service teachers of English-language learners.

Teacher Shortages. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) wrote a letter to Education Secretary John King calling on the Education Department to clarify how states and districts can address teacher shortages through Title II, which provides funds for recruiting and retaining teachers, professional development and other activities. The department is expected to release guidelines on Title II this fall.

Administration Terminates Recognition of Accreditor. The Obama administration terminated the federal recognition of the nation’s largest accreditor of for-profit colleges. The move could ultimately jeopardize the ability of hundreds of schools to access federal funding through the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges (ACICS). The ACICS plans to appeal the decision directly to Education Secretary King, which could temporarily put the termination on hold, Politico reports.

Legislation on Accreditation Process Introduced. A group of Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would make changes to how college accreditors operate, requiring accreditors to respond more quickly to evidence of fraud and misconduct by colleges and universities. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and would empower the Education Department to require accreditors to evaluate colleges based on a range of student outcome metrics, such as loan repayment rate, default rate, graduation rate and job placement rate. In 2008, Congress prohibited the department from setting such standards, though the Obama administration has called for overturning that ban. Read the bill text here and the fact sheet here.

AEI Report on Education in Elections. A report by the American Enterprise Institute assesses what role education issues play in state, local and federal elections.

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 Sept. 26, 2016. For more information, please visit:


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