U.S. Department of Education Takes First Steps in Transition to New Law

The U.S. Department of Education today took the first steps toward implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which President Obama signed into law last week to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and replace key requirements of the outdated No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The Department launched the rulemaking process by publishing in the Federal Register a Request for Information (RFI) seeking advice and recommendations for Title I regulations under ESSA.

The Department also issued a Dear Colleague Letter to states to clarify some initial steps as states, districts and schools transition to the new law and signal the Department’s commitment to facilitating a smooth transition to the new law—with minimal disruption to students, families, teachers, and schools—while ensuring compliance with all ESSA transition provisions.

Full story of the Every Student Succeeds Act at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Announces Availability of Additional Flexible Repayment Plan to Help Borrowers Manage their Student Loan Debt

As part the Obama Administration’s continued effort to give borrowers more and better options to manage their student debt, today, the U.S. Department of Education announced that all Direct Loan borrowers may enroll in the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan. REPAYE, an expansion of  Pay As You Earn, allows more student borrowers to limit the amount of their monthly federal student loan payments to 10 percent of their discretionary income.

“Helping student borrowers manage repayments so that loan debt is not a deterrent for pursing higher education has been a central theme for President Obama’s higher education agenda since the beginning of this Administration,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.” REPAYE is one of a number of key national economic policies this Administration has implemented to make America again the leader in college graduates in the world, while preventing student borrowers from facing unmanageable student loan debt.”

Full story of the REPAYE plan to assist student borrowers at ed.gov

Guidance Issued on How Schools Can Partner with Outside Organizations that Provide Single-Sex Programs under Title IX

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights today released guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter detailing schools’ responsibilities under Title IX when partnering with certain outside organizations that provide single-sex programs to a school district’s students. The letter explains the circumstances under which a school district may work lawfully with “voluntary youth service organizations” under Title IX.

“We know that outside organizations can be great resources for school districts trying to improve the quality and diversity of the educational opportunities they offer,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “We hope this guidance provides schools with additional clarity on how to comply with Title IX’s requirement to provide equitable opportunities for students regardless of their sex, including, where the law allows it, while working with organizations that serve students of only one sex.”

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. The law generally bars school districts both from excluding students from educational opportunities based on their sex and from providing significant assistance to outside organizations that do so, but it allows schools to work with certain outside organizations that limit membership by sex.

Full story of single-sex programs under Title IX in schools at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Releases 2016 National Education Technology Plan

The U.S. Department of Education  announced today the release of the 2016 National Education Technology Plan and new commitments to support personalized professional learning for district leaders across the country working to improve teaching and student achievement through the effective use of technology.

Updated every five years, the plan is the flagship educational technology policy document for the United States. The 2016 plan outlines a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible. While acknowledging the continuing need to provide greater equity of access to technology itself, the plan goes further to call upon all involved in American education to ensure equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology.

“Technology has the potential to bring remarkable new possibilities to teaching and learning by providing teachers with opportunities to share best practices, and offer parents platforms for engaging more deeply and immediately in their children’s learning,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “It can change the experiences of students in the most challenging circumstances by helping educators to personalize the learning experience based on students’ needs and interests—meeting our students where they are and challenging them to reach even higher. This year’s update to the National Education Technology Plan includes a strong focus on equity because every student deserves an equal chance to engage in educational experiences powered by technology that can support and accelerate learning.”

Full story of 2016 national education technology plan at ed.gov

Settlement Reached with Palatine, Ill., Township High School District 211 to Remedy Transgender Discrimination

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Township High School District 211 based in Palatine, Illinois, after finding the district in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for discriminating against a transgender high school student by denying her access to the girls’ locker rooms.

The case marked the first time that the Department’s Office for Civil Rights had found a school district in violation of civil rights laws over transgender issues.

“I commend the Board of Education of Township High School District 211 for taking steps necessary to protect civil rights as well as student privacy,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “We are grateful that the board and superintendent chose to come into full compliance with our nation’s civil rights laws. And, we look forward to partnering with the district to assure that the terms of this agreement are fully and effectively implemented.”

Full story of settlement reached on transgender discrimination at ed.gov

Fact Sheet: Congress Acts to Fix No Child Left Behind

Today, the Obama Administration is praising action by the House of Representatives to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan bill to fix No Child Left Behind, and is calling on the Senate to take swift action on the legislation so that it can be signed into law before the end of the year. The bill rejects the overuse of standardized tests and one-size-fits-all mandates on our schools, ensures that our education system will prepare every child to graduate from high school ready for college and careers, and provides more children access to high-quality state preschool programs.

The bipartisan bill passed by the House includes many of the key reforms the Administration has called on Congress to enact and encouraged states and districts to adopt in exchange for waivers offering relief from the more onerous provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The bill helps ensure educational opportunity for all students by:

  • Holding all students to high academic standards that prepare them for success in college and careers.
  • Ensuring accountability by guaranteeing that when students fall behind, states redirect resources into what works to help them and their schools improve, with a particular focus on the very lowest-performing schools, high schools with high dropout rates, and schools with achievement gaps.

Full story of congress to fix No Child Left Behind at ed.gov

Quarterly Student Aid Report: Two-Thirds of Freshmen FAFSA Applicants List Only One College on Their Applications

A troubling two-thirds of freshmen students filling out an original Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) designate only a single school to send their financial aid application information, indicating that they were only applying for admission to one school.

In new quarterly updates posted on the Education Department’s Federal Student Aid Data Center, 68 percent of freshmen students filling out the 2014-15 FAFSA listed only one college, indicating that they were only applying to one school. Still, that’s better than the 80 percent who recorded just one school in 2008-09.

The quarterly report contains regular updates on the Department’s student loan portfolio, including repayment status and plan information. This quarter’s report also included new data on FAFSA completion.

“By focusing on only one school, students run the risk of being turned down for admission or losing out on better financial aid and educational opportunities from another school, with ramifications that can last a lifetime,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “That one school might be the right fit, but why take a chance? Why not consider multiple schools and increase your options and opportunities?”

Full story of quarterly student aid report at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Approves Nine Additional States’ Plans to Provide Equal Access to Excellent Educators

As part of its Excellent Educators for All Initiative—designed to ensure that all students have equal access to a high-quality education—the U.S. Department of Education today announced the approval of nine states’ plans to ensure equitable access to excellent educators:  Idaho, Illinois, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah and Wyoming.

“All parents understand that strong teaching is fundamental to strong opportunities for their children. We as a country should treat that opportunity as a right that every family has—regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin, zip code, wealth, or first language,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The nine states receiving approval of their plans are taking promising steps to eliminate the gaps some students face in access to excellent educators by implementing strategies and innovative solutions to challenging problems that meet local needs. Each of these states engaged a variety of stakeholder groups to ensure that these plans not only include strategies that are likely to be effective in eliminating identified equity gaps, but also to ensure that these strategies are meaningful for the students, teachers, and communities in which they’ll be implemented. This stakeholder engagement is critical to the success of this work, as we can only come up with workable, meaningful solutions to this problem if teachers, principals and other key stakeholders are at the table.

Full story of Excellent Educators for All Initiative at ed.gov

Department of Education and Attorney General Kamala Harris Announce Findings from Investigation of Wyotech and Everest Programs

After analyzing several years of job placement rates reported by Corinthian College’s Wyotech and Everest programs, along with evidence provided by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, today, the U.S. Department of Education is announcing the results from the joint investigation which concluded the programs misrepresented their placement rates to enrolled and prospective students.

The findings from this investigation apply to Everest and Wyotech locations in California, as well as Everest University online programs based in Florida, and add to the existing findings concerning programs at Heald College – which were also a part of the joint investigation with Attorney General Harris’s office.

“I commend Attorney General Kamala Harris and her team for their collaboration with our team to help defrauded Corinthian students receive the relief they are entitled to,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The results of our joint investigation will allow us to get relief to more students, more efficiently. Helping wronged students is much easier when everyone – Congress, state attorneys general, accreditors, authorizers and the Department – does their part to protect students and works together. Our team welcomes help from anyone who wants to follow her lead.”

Full story of Wyotech and Everest programs at ed.gov

Education Department Announces New Guidance to Help Students with Disabilities as Part of 40th Anniversary of IDEA Law

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.

Full story of the IDEA Law at ed.gov