Debt Collectors Lose Lawsuits Against Education Department

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Education brought by four of its contracted student loan debt collectors after the department decided not to award them additional business.

Judge Francis Allegra of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims tossed the lawsuits in a sealed order, court filings show. Most of the documents in the case are either secret or heavily redacted. The Huffington Post was unable to obtain a copy of the court order on Tuesday.

Coast Professional, Enterprise Recovery Systems, National Recoveries, and Pioneer Credit Recovery sued in March after the Education Department said it wouldn’t send them any more accounts under their current contracts. The Education Department said Feb. 27 that the four firms and West Asset Management had misled distressed borrowers “at unacceptably high rates.”

Full story of debt collectors lawsuit against ED at Huffington post

U.S. Department of Education Fines Corinthian Colleges $30 million for Misrepresentation

The U.S. Department of Education took additional steps today to protect students and taxpayers and crack down on abuses within the for-profit sector by continuing its enforcement actions against Corinthian Colleges Inc. After a comprehensive review, the U.S. Department of Education has confirmed cases of misrepresentation of job placement rates to current and prospective students in Corinthian’s Heald College system. The Department found 947 misstated placement rates and informed the company it is being fined about $30 million.

Specifically, the Department has determined that Heald College’s inaccurate or incomplete disclosures were misleading to students; that they overstated the employment prospects of graduates of Heald’s programs; and that current and prospective students of Heald could have relied upon that information as they were choosing whether to attend the school. Heald College provided the Department and its accreditors this inaccurate information as well.

Full story of ED fining Corinthian Colleges for misrepresentation at ed.gov

Secretary Duncan Announces Education Department’s First-Ever Guide for Ed Tech Developers

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the first-ever guide for developers, startups and entrepreneurs from the department’s Office of Educational Technology (OET).

The Ed Tech Developer’s Guide: A Primer for Developers, Startups and Entrepreneurs is a free guide that addresses key questions about the education ecosystem and highlights critical needs and opportunities to develop digital tools and apps for learning.  Written with input from knowledgeable educators, developers, and researchers who were willing to share what they have learned, the guide is designed to help entrepreneurs apply technology in smart ways to solve persistent problems in education.

“Technology makes it possible for us to create a different dynamic between a teacher and a classroom full of students. It can open up limitless new ways to engage kids, support teachers and bring parents into the learning process,” Duncan said, addressing the ASU+GSV Summit 2015 in Scottsdale. “We need tools designed to help students discover who they are and what they care about, and tools that create portals to a larger world that, in the past, would have remained out of reach for far too many students.”

Full story of ed tech developers at ed.gov

New Report Shows Greater Need for Access to High-Quality Preschool for America’s Children

The U.S. Department of Education released a new report today detailing the unmet need across the country for high-quality preschool programs.

According to the report, A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America, of the approximately 4 million 4-year olds in the United States, about 60 percent – or nearly 2.5 million – are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs, including state preschool programs, Head Start and programs serving children with disabilities. Even fewer are enrolled in the highest-quality programs.

The report highlights the need for an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that expands access to high-quality early learning opportunities and makes the law preschool through 12th grade, rather than K-12. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan discussed the report today during a visit to Martin Luther King Jr. Early Childhood Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Full story of high quality preschool for american children at ed.gov

11 Ex-Atlanta Public School Employees Found Guilty In Cheating Scandal

They were found guilty of conspiracy when they switched student test scores. The verdicts close a dark chapter for the school system and the city of Atlanta. One defendant, a teacher, was acquitted.

A jury has found 11 former educators guilty of racketeering and other charges. The defendants who used to work at Atlanta Public Schools were accused of conspiring to cheat on tests that measured student achievement – their motive? – to boost scores and earn bonuses. From member station WABE, Martha Dalton has the story.

Full story and audio of the cheating scandal at NPR

Why Babies Love (And Learn From) Magic Tricks

To survive, we humans need to be able to do a handful of things: breathe, of course. And drink and eat. Those are obvious.

We’re going to focus now on a less obvious — but no less vital — human function: learning. Because new research out today in the journal Science sheds light on the very building blocks of learning.

Imagine an 11-month-old sitting in a high chair opposite a small stage where you might expect, say, a puppet show. Except this is a lab at Johns Hopkins University. Instead of a puppeteer, a researcher is rolling a red and blue striped ball down a ramp, toward a little wall at the bottom.

Full story of infants learning from magic tricks at NPR

Why Many Smart, Low-Income Students Don’t Apply To Elite Schools

Right now, high school seniors across the country are trying hard not to think about what is — or isn’t — coming in the mail.

They’re anxiously awaiting acceptance letters (or the opposite) from their top-choice colleges and universities. But this story isn’t about them. It’s about a big group of seniors who could get into great schools but don’t apply: high-achieving students from low-income families who live outside of America’s big cities.

These students often wind up in community college or mediocre four-year schools. It’s a phenomenon known in education circles as “undermatching.”

Full story of smart low income students and elite schools at NPR

Are Women’s Colleges Doomed? What Sweet Briar’s Demise Tells Us

Sweet Briar College in Virginia will close its doors in May, after 114 years of teaching women at its scenic campus in western Virginia.

The school’s board of directors says the school has been unable to increase revenue, and as a result the institution cannot survive. The announcement shocked students and alumnae and created a movement — Saving Sweet Briar — to keep the school open. They’ve asked the president and the board to step down.

The financial troubles and declining enrollment at Sweet Briar in recent years have once again raised the question: Are women’s colleges a relic of the past?

Full story of women in teaching at NPR

Achievement Gap Narrows as High School Graduation Rates for Minority Students Improve Faster than Rest of Nation

Graduation rates for black and Hispanic students increased by nearly 4 percentage points from 2011 to 2013, outpacing the growth for all students in the nation, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

What’s more, the gap between white students and black and Hispanic students receiving high school diplomas narrowed over that time, the data show.

“The hard work of America’s educators, families, communities and students is paying off. This is a vital step toward readiness for success in college and careers for every student in this country,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “While these gains are promising, we know that we have a long way to go in improving educational opportunities for every student – no matter their zip code – for the sake of our young people and our nation’s economic strength.”

Full story of achievement gap for minority students at ed.gov

Video-on-Demand Children’s TV Programming Now Accessible for Thousands of Students with Visual or Hearing Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education today announced the availability of free, video-on-demand children’s television programming for thousands of students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing.

Dozens of children’s and family TV episodes may now be viewed online featuring closed captioning and descriptions through the Education Department’s Accessible Television Portal project. Among the shows: “Ocean Mysteries,” “Magic School Bus,” “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Expedition Wild” and “Peg + Cat.”

The portal is part of the Department-funded Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP). It includes video-on-demand content provided at no cost by the major television networks, as well as producers and distributors like PBS Kids, Sesame Workshop, Cartoon Network, Sprout (NBC), the Fred Rogers Company, Scholastic Media, Litton Entertainment, Out of the Blue and Fremantle Television.

Full story of tv programming for students with visual and hearing disabilities at ed.gov