Student Aid Enforcement Unit Formed to Protect Students, Borrowers, Taxpayers

As part of the Obama Administration’s aggressive action to protect students and taxpayers, the U.S. Department of Education is creating a Student Aid Enforcement Unit to respond more quickly and efficiently to allegations of illegal actions by higher education institutions.

“When Americans invest their time, money and effort to gain new skills, they have a right to expect they’ll actually get an education that leads to a better life for them and their families,” said Acting Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “When that doesn’t happen we all pay the price. So let me be clear: schools looking to cheat students and taxpayers will be held accountable.”

The Enforcement Unit will be led by Robert Kaye, one of the nation’s top enforcement attorneys – most recently as a leader in the Federal Trade Commission’s work protecting consumers. Through his work as the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Chief Litigation Counsel and as a manager in the Bureau’s Division of Enforcement, Kaye has considerable experience supervising and advising managers and attorneys engaged in consumer protection investigations, as well as federal court and administrative litigation.

Full story of the Student Aid Enforcement Unit  at ed.gov

Strengthening Partnerships between Businesses and Community Colleges to Grow the Middle Class

Most first-time college students enroll in certificate or associate degree programs, indicating that the role of America’s more than 1,000 community colleges is more critical than ever. By offering students an affordable education and training close to home, community colleges may be the only option for some students who are raising children, working, in need of remedial classes, or can only take classes part-time. They are also uniquely positioned to partner with employers to create tailored training programs to meet economic needs within their communities.

That’s why the President proposed the America’s College Promise plan to make two years of community college free for responsible students, letting them earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree or earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost. Inspired by programs in Tennessee and Chicago, America’s College Promise would create a new partnership with states, and would require everyone to do their part: community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate. Today, the Administration is announcing a new plan to cut taxes on businesses willing to work with community colleges to create or expand quality programs in in-demand fields.

Full story of businesses and community colleges partnership at ed.gov

King announces guidance to states to help reduce testing

Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. announced today new guidance to help states identify and eliminate low-quality, redundant or unhelpful testing.

“High-quality assessments give parents, educators and students useful information about whether students are developing the critical thinking and problem solving skills they need to succeed in life,” said King. “But there has to be a balance, and despite good intentions, there are too many places around the country where the balance still isn’t quite right. We hope this guidance will help restore that balance and give back some of the critical learning time that students need to be successful.”

The guidance outlines how federal dollars may be used to help reduce testing in schools, while still ensuring that educators and parents have the information they need on students’ progress to improve learning. The guidance shines a light on innovative work already happening across the country and provides examples of how states and districts can use their federal funding to explore new strategies for ensuring the use of high-quality, useful and well-constructed assessments, and the elimination of redundant and burdensome assessments.

Full story of reducing low quality testing at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Takes Enforcement Against Two School Ownership Groups

As part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing commitment to protect students and increase accountability and transparency in higher education, the U.S. Department of Education is taking action to end the participation in the federal student financial assistance programs of 23 Marinello Schools of Beauty (Marinello) campuses in Nevada and California and three Computer Systems Institute groups (CSI) campuses in Illinois.

Investigations by the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) uncovered serious violations within both institutions. The Department determined that CSI submitted false job placement rates to its students, the Department, and its national accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). The Department determined that Marinello was knowingly requesting Federal aid for students based on invalid high school diplomas, underawarding Title IV aid to students, charging students for excessive overtime, and engaging in other acts of misrepresentation.

Full story of action against three Computer Systems Institute campuses at ed.gov

US schools get failing grade for financial literacy education

The number of states that require high school students to complete a course in economics has dropped over the last two years, and mandates for personal finance education in the upper grades remain stagnant, a new survey shows.

The biennial Survey of the States by the Council for Economic Education, released exclusively to CNBC.com, found 20 states currently mandate that high school students take economics — two fewer than in 2014.

There has been no change since then in the number of states that require standardized testing of economic concepts. Currently, 16 states require testing, which is down significantly from 25 in 1998.

Full story of schools and financial literacy at CNBC

 

Toledo Public Schools, U.S. Education Department Reach Agreement to Address Issues of African American Student Access to Resources

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and Toledo Public Schools announced today that the district has entered into a resolution agreement to ensure compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in providing equitable resources to African American students.

The agreement, reached before OCR had completed its investigation, identifies concerns about access to experienced teachers, teachers with master’s degrees, library access for K-8 students, and distance learning classes for high school students.

“Toledo Public Schools’ commitment through this resolution agreement, together with steps the district had begun during the course of our review, spotlight their important pledge to equity,” said Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “Superintendent Romules Durant’s efforts to examine and address racially equitable access to Toledo’s resources is critical to all the district’s students’ academic and long-term success.”

Full story of African American student access to resources at ed.gov

Fact Sheet: Helping More Americans Complete College: New Proposals For Success

At a time when the economy is changing faster than ever before, real opportunity requires that every American get the postsecondary education and training they need to find a good-paying job. President Obama believes that we must help many more Americans graduate from college. Still, far too many students never complete their degree — only 60 percent of those enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program complete their education. Even for those who do complete, at least a third take longer than expected to graduate, forcing them to carry additional costs and leave school with higher debt burdens. The consequences of not completing college are especially severe for students who leave school with debt; borrowers who drop out of college face a three times greater risk of defaulting on their student loans compared with those who graduate.

Since 2009, the Obama Administration has made historic investments in student financial aid that have helped ensure college stays within the reach of American families. It has increased the maximum Pell Grant by more than $1,000, and created the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth $10,000 over four years of college. It has cut student loan interest rates, saving students up to $1,000 this year, and allowed more borrowers to cap their loan payments at 10 percent of their income through the President’s Pay As You Earn and related income-driven repayment plans. In total, the Obama Administration has increased total aid available to students by over $50 billion from 2008 to 2016, and selected tax benefits by over $12 billion, which has helped our Nation ensure more students are graduating college than ever before. At the same time, the Administration has sought to drive innovations that increase college completion, value and affordability by investing $135 million over the past two years under the First in the World program to scale evidenced-based practices to improve student outcomes and bring down college costs.

Full story of helping American’s complete college at ed.gov

New Guidance Highlights High Impact Opportunities to Support Healthy Students

In a new letter sent today to governors, chief state school officers, state health officials and state Medicaid directors, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) recognize the critical role that healthcare coverage and health services play in ensuring all students are ready and able to learn, and recommend action steps to better coordinate health and education services for all students and their families.

ED and HHS also released a new toolkit that details five high impact opportunities for states and local school districts to support stronger communities through collaboration education and health sectors, highlighting best practices and key research in both areas.

“Healthy students are better learners and better positioned to thrive in school and later in life,” said Acting Secretary John B. King Jr. “The opportunities we highlight in our new toolkit are happening already in some schools, but we need more action. Our hope is this call to action is a new day for collaboration. We need more schools, more districts and more states to take advantage of existing channels and opportunities to create healthy opportunities for their students.”

Full story of impact opportunities to support healthy students at ed.gov

Giving Every Child in America a Fair Shot at a Great Education

In the days immediately following the State of the Union, Cabinet officials are embarking on the “State of the Union: Cabinet In Your Community” road tour to engage Americans in small towns, big cities and Indian country about the advancements the Administration has made on the most important issues facing the American people, as well as the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. The President made clear in his State of the Union address that the true test is not the challenges we face, but how we approach those challenges. That’s why he and his Cabinet will keep their feet on the gas in this final stretch to continue driving toward solutions that will move this country forward for generations to come, while highlighting the progress that has been made over the past seven years.

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Giving Every Child in America a Fair Shot at a Great Education

Today in El Paso, Texas, Acting U.S. Education Secretary John King will kick off his “Opportunity Across America” tour to discuss how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will build on progress made in education since the beginning of the Obama Administration to ensure that every student —regardless of disability, race, zip code, or family income—is prepared to succeed in school and in life.

Full story of giving children a fair shot at great education at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Awards Nearly $300,000 to Baltimore City School District

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students awarded Baltimore City School District a Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant totaling $292,647. The grant will be used to assist with ongoing recovery efforts following the unrest in Baltimore in April 2015.

“We have to work harder and do more to ensure that our students feel safe in their schools and communities,” said Ann Whalen, senior advisor to the secretary, delegated the duties of the assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education. “As adults, it is our responsibility to help protect and nurture students, especially when tragic incidents occur that affect the school environment and impact the community in such a way that hinders learning. This Project SERV grant will help the district move forward in restoring the learning environment.”

Full story of grant awarded to Baltimore City School District at ed.gov