Obama Administration Takes Action to Ensure Fewer and Better Tests for Students

Building on, the U.S. Department of Education today released a series of case studies with examples of work states and districts are doing to ensure fewer, better and fairer tests for students. The examples are part of the Department’s continued efforts to lift up promising practices and provide information to states and districts about thoughtful ways to reduce and improve testing.

As part of that work, the Department also today outlined proposed priorities for applicants of the Enhanced Assessment Grant, a competitive grant program for states and consortia of states to improve state academic assessments. Through a notice published in the Federal Register, the Department is proposing three additional priorities for applicants: developing innovative assessment item types and design approaches, improving assessment scoring and score reporting, and conducting an inventory of state and local assessment systems to eliminate unnecessary, redundant or low-quality tests.

Full story of President Obama’s Testing Action Plan at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Issues Guidance for Schools on Leveraging Federal Funding to Support STEM Education

The U.S. Department of Education today issued a Dear Colleague Letter to states, school districts, schools and education partners on how to maximize federal funds to support and enhance innovative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for all students.

The letter serves as a resource for decreasing the equity and opportunity gaps for historically underserved students in STEM and gives examples of how federal funds—through formula grant programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act—can support efforts to improve instruction and student outcomes in STEM fields.

“Too often many of our students, especially those who are most vulnerable, do not have equitable access to high-quality STEM and computer science opportunities, which are part of a well-rounded education and can change the course of a child’s life,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. ”We are committed to ensuring that all students have the same opportunities to access a rigorous and challenging education. This letter will help states and their school districts use their federal funds to close opportunity gaps and improve educational outcomes for all students.”

Full story of leveraging federal funding to support STEM education at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Acts to Protect Social Security Benefits for Borrowers with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education announced today a new process to proactively identify and assist federal student loan borrowers with disabilities who may be eligible for Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) loan discharge. This effort was called for by President Obama in his Student Aid Bill of Rights, which details measures to make paying for higher education an easier and fairer experience for millions of Americans. The Higher Education Act allows for loan forgiveness for borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled. By proactively identifying and engaging borrowers who may be eligible for TPD loan discharge, the Department is fulfilling its commitment to ensure that borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled have the information needed to take full advantage of the debt relief to which they are entitled.

“In 2012, the Administration took steps to streamline the process to allow for Americans who are totally and permanently disabled to use their Social Security designation to apply to have their loans discharged. But too many eligible borrowers were falling through the cracks, unaware they were eligible for relief. Borrowers like one such woman whose side effects from her breast cancer treatment left her totally and permanently disabled. After repeated attempts, she finally received a disability discharge—seven years after her first application,” said U.S. Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. “Under the new process, we will notify potentially eligible borrowers about the benefit and guide them through steps needed to discharge their loans, helping thousands of borrowers. Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief. And we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to receive the benefits they are due.”

Full story of social security benefits for borrows with disabilities at ed.gov

Education Department Releases Proposals for Consideration by ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking Committee

The U.S. Department of Education sent proposals today to the committee working on proposed regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The proposals focus on the issues being negotiated: Title I, Part A assessments, and the requirement that federal Title I-A funds supplement, not supplant, state and local resources.

The proposals are in response to input from negotiators given during the committee’s first three-day session in March. The committee meets again this week from April 6-8.

“These proposals are part of the important work this committee is doing to ensure the law is implemented smoothly and with a focus on the most vulnerable students, consistent with the law’s purpose,” said Ann Whalen, senior advisor to the Secretary, delegated the duties of the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. “We look forward to continuing to work with the committee to promote equity and excellence for all students by providing states and school districts with timely regulations so that they can plan ahead to support students and educators.”

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

Department of Education Releases Resources on Improving School Climate

The U.S. Department of Education today released new school climate surveys and a quick guide on making school climate improvements to help foster and sustain safe and supportive environments that are conducive to learning for all students.

The ED School Climate Surveys (surveys) and the Quick Guide on Making School Climate Improvements will enable states, local school districts, and individual schools to collect and act on reliable, nationally-validated school climate data in real-time. These new free and adaptable resources will enable educators, administrators, and school system leaders to understand and create environments where every child can be successful.

“All students deserve schools that work to ensure safe and supportive school climates in which they can reach their full potential,” said James Cole Jr., General Counsel, Delegated the Duties of Deputy Secretary of Education. “These new surveys and quick guide will support any school that seeks to make significant improvements in all students’ safety and sense of respect and connectedness at school. We owe it to our children to ensure that school is not only safe and engaging, but that we are also working to continuously improve school climate by using resources like these.”

Full story of resources on improving school climate at ed.gov

Making College More Affordable for More Americans & Improving College Choice

The U.S. Education Department is taking steps to further implement President Obama’s plan announced last fall to help more Americans pay for college.

The President’s blueprint unveiled last September aims to make it easier to get federal student aid by streamlining the process of submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

In a Federal Register announcement published today, the Department invites public comment on how it plans to further reduce the burden of collecting application information for federal student aid.

“As the President has said, no young person in America should be priced out of college,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “A higher education is one of the most important investments Americans can make in their future. We want to make it easier than ever before to apply for and access federal grants and loans.”

Full story of making colleges more affordable at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Announces Path for Debt Relief for Students at 91 Additional Corinthian Campuses

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that students who were defrauded at 91 former Corinthian Colleges Inc. (Corinthian) campuses nationwide have a clear path to loan forgiveness under evidence uncovered by the Department while working with multiple state attorneys general.

These campuses represent the largest group of borrowers eligible for loan relief so far from the ongoing investigation into Corinthian. In total, the Department has made findings of fraud against more than 100 of Corinthian’s former campuses.

Students who attended Corinthian schools operated under its Everest and WyoTech brands in more than 20 states – Massachusetts, California, Illinois, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington, Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oregon, New York, Utah, Maryland, New Jersey, and Wyoming. The Department is reaching out to those students through postal mail, email, partner organizations and other means.

Full story of debt relief for Corinthian campus students at ed.gov

New U.S. Department of Education Report Highlights Colleges Increasing Access and Supporting Strong Outcomes for Low-Income Students

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to helping all Americans complete a quality, affordable college education, the U.S. Department of Education today released a report highlighting the efforts of colleges and universities to promote access, opportunity and success among low-income students, and identifying areas of much-needed improvement.

“For students from low- and moderate-income families, a college degree is the surest path to the middle class in our country. I applaud the colleges and universities that have taken measurable steps to open up this pathway and make it a successful one for students from all backgrounds. But we need these types of efforts to become the rule and not the exception,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.

Full story of college access and low-income students at ed.gov

New Student Loan Report Reveals Promising Repayment Trends

The U.S. Department of Education today released its Quarterly Student Aid Report, a collection of key performance data on the federal student loan portfolio, revealing continued increases in income-driven repayment enrollment with notable decreases in defaults and delinquencies.

Within the report, the Department’s office of Federal Student Aid unveiled new, expanded data on the $357 billion Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, which typically consists of federal student loans originated by banks.

The quarterly update includes three new reports to shed light on the FFEL portfolio owned by the Department—showing loan status, repayment plan and delinquency level.

“Today’s analysis suggests that the Administration’s efforts to help struggling borrowers are having a positive impact,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “We will continue to make more data available to shed light on student debt in America. As President Obama has said, ‘Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their government is doing.’”

Full story of new student loan payment trends at ed.gov

Fact Sheet: College Completion Drives Student Success

In today’s economy, college completion is an essential part of getting the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in their careers and lives. That is why, since 2009, the Obama Administration has made historic investments in higher education that have helped ensure college stays within the reach of American families, including increasing the maximum Pell Grant award by more than $1,000, creating an American Opportunity Tax Credit of $10,000 over four years of college, keeping federal student loan interest rates low, and allowing borrowers to cap their loan payments at 10 percent of their income through the President’s Pay As You Earn and related repayment plans. These efforts have helped our nation ensure more students are graduating college than ever before.

Despite this progress, to meet the President’s goal of leading the world in college attainment—to move from 5th to 1st among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, we need to do more. Far too many students never complete their degree—with only 60 percent of those enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program completing their education. We need to do more to ensure that students from all backgrounds are entering, effectively navigating, and successfully exiting the postsecondary education system, in order to buck the trend of one in 10 Americans from low-income families completing college by age 25, compared with half of Americans from high-income families.

Full story of college completion and success at ed.gov