To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the U.S. Education Department is releasing guidance aimed at ensuring that America’s 6 million children and youth with disabilities have the same opportunity for a quality education as their nondisabled peers.
“In the 40 years since this law was enacted, we have moved beyond simply providing children and youth with disabilities access to the school house,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Today, we want to assure that these students have no less than the same equal shot at the American dream as their nondisabled peers.”
The guidance clarifies that students with disabilities should not only have access to a free appropriate public education, but also they should have individualized education programs (IEPs) that are aligned with state academic content standards for the grade in which a child is enrolled. This will help to ensure that all students receive high-quality instruction that prepares them for success in college and careers.
WASHINGTON – The United States has reached a landmark global settlement with Education Management Corp. (EDMC), the second-largest for-profit education company in the country, the Department of Justice announced today. The $95.5 million settlement resolves allegations that EDMC violated federal and state False Claims Act (FCA) provisions by falsely certifying that it was in compliance with Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) and parallel state statutes.
“This historic resolution exemplifies the Justice Department’s deep commitment to protecting precious public resources; to defending American consumers; and to standing up for those who are vulnerable to mistreatment, abuse, and exploitation,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Operating essentially as a recruitment mill, EDMC’s actions were not only a violation of federal law but also a violation of the trust placed in them by their students – including veterans and working parents – all at taxpayer expense. In the days ahead, we will continue working with our invaluable partners at the U.S. Department of Education, through initiatives like the inter-agency task force on for-profit education, to ensure that our nation’s aspiring learners are finding and gaining access to educational opportunities that are right for them.”
Accreditation’s historic function serves as an important protection for both students and taxpayers by assuring the quality of our postsecondary educational system. Since accreditation is a prerequisite for schools’ participation in the federal student aid programs, it plays a “gatekeeping” role in institutional access to the annual $150 billion investment in federal student aid. Accreditors are responsible for ensuring baseline levels of acceptable quality and performance across diverse institutions, degree types, and academic programs. In addition, given accreditors’ roots in a voluntary, peer-based process for quality improvement, accreditation creates a platform for sharing ideas and improving practices across institutions.
However, there is broad agreement and a sense of urgency about the need for significant improvement in both the rigor and flexibility of accreditation. The Administration signaled its interest in improving the accreditation system in the 2013 State of the Union address, when the President called on Congress to explore incorporating measures of value and affordability into the existing accreditation system or by establishing new, alternative accreditation pathways for higher education models and colleges to receive federal student aid eligibility based on performance and results. In his July 2015 speech on the future of higher education, Secretary Duncan emphasized the importance of a new focus on outcomes and greater transparency in higher education. He noted particularly that accreditors have provided little accountability for some poor-performing institutions and that for many accreditors, student outcomes are far down the priority list, saying, “For the most part, accreditation organizations are the watchdogs that don’t bark.” The Secretary also acknowledged that the Department must do more to hold accreditors responsible for their work, but that its role in accreditation and student outcomes is narrowly outlined in statute.
The Obama Administration announced today that nine communities will receive flexibility and start-up grants of up to $700,000 to implement innovative programs to improve outcomes for disconnected youth.
The Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth (P3) is a collaboration of six federal agencies—the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services and Justice, along with the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—to respond jointly to common challenges that communities face.
“The great thing about the performance partnership pilots is that they give states, cities, towns and native communities the flexibility to pool funding for programs and services that can improve outcomes for youth who aren’t in school, working, or in education and training,” said Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget. “This will help change lives for 10,000 young people, particularly boys and girls of color who can succeed if given the opportunity.”
The U.S. Department of Education announced today the launch of #GoOpen, a campaign to encourage states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials. As part of the campaign, the Department is proposing a new regulation that would require all copyrightable intellectual property created with Department grant funds to have an open license.
“In order to ensure that all students – no matter their zip code – have access to high-quality learning resources, we are encouraging districts and states to move away from traditional textbooks and toward freely accessible, openly-licensed materials,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “Districts across the country are transforming learning by using materials that can be constantly updated and adjusted to meet students’ needs.”
The announcements were made at an Open Education Symposium hosted by the Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for state and district superintendents and other educators from across the country committed to adopting openly licensed educational materials. They were joined by innovators from education technology companies and nonprofit organizations who have committed to working alongside these districts to create new tools that help educators find, adapt, create, and share resources.
The U.S. Department of Education released a report today that shows Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge states are rapidly improving the quality of early learning programs while enrolling more children, especially from low- and moderate income families, in the highest-quality programs.
What’s more, thousands more children are receiving health screenings to help detect medical or developmental issues earlier, the report shows. The report comes from the annual performance reviews for the 20 states that have received more than $1 billion in Early Learning Challenge grants since 2011. These reports capture the successes achieved and obstacles overcome by states in the last year.
“By investing in high-quality early learning through programs like the Early Learning Challenge, states are giving many more children a strong start in life,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “Thanks to the leadership of governors, state officials and education advocates, these states are implementing plans to develop high-quality early learning systems that improve the quality of learning and provide our youngest citizens with the strong foundation they need for success in school and beyond.”
As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to helping students and borrowers, today, the Department of Education is announcing the publication of two regulatory packages that will protect students in the rapidly-expanding college debit and prepaid card marketplace and add a new income-based repayment plan so more borrowers can limit the amount of their payments to 10 percent of their income.
“Since day one, protecting students and borrowers has been a key priority for the Obama Administration,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The two final rules published today represent a continuation of our efforts. These regulations will help make sure student loan debt is affordable for all borrowers and bring overdue reforms to campus cards, a sector that too often puts taxpayer dollars and student consumers at risk.”
One essential part of educating students successfully is assessing their progress in learning to high standards. Done well and thoughtfully, assessments are tools for learning and promoting equity. They provide necessary information for educators, families, the public, and students themselves to measure progress and improve outcomes for all learners. Done poorly, in excess, or without clear purpose, they take valuable time away from teaching and learning, draining creative approaches from our classrooms. In the vital effort to ensure that all students in America are achieving at high levels, it is essential to ensure that tests are fair, are of high quality, take up the minimum necessary time, and reflect the expectation that students will be prepared for success in college and careers.
In too many schools, there is unnecessary testing and not enough clarity of purpose applied to the task of assessing students, consuming too much instructional time and creating undue stress for educators and students. The Administration bears some of the responsibility for this, and we are committed to being part of the solution.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today that ASCD will join the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the U.S. Department of Education as the third partner in Teach to Lead, which focuses on expanding opportunities for teacher leadership in ways that enhance student learning and make it possible for teachers to stay in the classroom while leading in the profession.
“We are happy to welcome ASCD as a partner in Teach to Lead and look forward to working with them and the National Board to advance teacher leadership,” said Duncan. “During this period of immense change in education, teachers are helping to catalyze great progress, including our nation’s record high school graduation rate, narrowed achievement gaps, and a larger, more diverse group attending college than ever before. This progress is possible because—across the country—teachers are leading from their classrooms and taking on new roles to improve education for all students. The teaching profession becomes stronger when teachers are empowered to lead—and when teaching is stronger, students benefit.”
“The entire team at ASCD is thrilled to become a partner in Teach to Lead, and we look forward to advancing the effort and continuing the work that the Department of Education and National Board have done since the initiative was launched,” said ASCD President Matt McClure. “Teachers of all types and backgrounds―from those who have spent 30 years in the classroom to those new to the profession but full of ideas and ambition―need expanded opportunities for leadership. We will focus our efforts on providing resources, support and encouragement to make teacher leadership a reality for all educators who desire it.”
In an effort to ensure that all students have access to a world-class education that prepares them for college and careers, the U.S. Department of Education released a resource guide today to help educators, school leaders and community organizations better support undocumented youth, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
“Our nation’s public schools should be welcoming, safe, and supportive places where all students, regardless of their zip code or where they were born, are given the opportunity to succeed. We know undocumented youth face unique challenges and we also know that educators and other caring adults in schools and colleges can play a major role in helping all students, including undocumented students, to achieve at the highest levels,” said John King, senior advisor delegated the duties of deputy secretary of education. “This guide provides actionable information and resources that educators and school and campus leaders can use to help improve outcomes for high school and college students.”