Higher Education News
Former students of a troubled for-profit provider want their federal student loans discharged. But that effort could just be the beginning.
Earlier this week, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate education committee, announced an agreement to begin a bipartisan process of fixing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The committee will consider the proposed bill next week. This agreement, however, is just a beginning. As I detailed in a speech yesterday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., there is work ahead to deliver a bill that fulfills the historic mission of this law.
Congress originally passed ESEA 50 years ago this week. Then as now, it stood to connect civil rights to education, enshrining America’s core value that every child deserves a quality education, no matter her race, disability, neighborhood, or first language. I am happy to see this bipartisan effort come together, yet I also know the distance we have to go toward a bill that establishes an expectation of excellence for all American children, and stays true to ESEA’s role as a guarantor of civil rights.
ESEA must continue this nation’s vital progress in closing gaps for vulnerable students. In that effort, there is more yet to do.
The Alexander-Murray proposal moves reauthorization forward in important ways, including requiring States to adopt college- and career-ready standards as part of the effort to ensure that all students are prepared for the demands of higher education and the workforce. It also would require that states set achievement goals and graduation rate goals for all students and student subgroups. And, the proposal would provide more flexibility than NCLB for states and school districts, and ensure that parents know how their children and children’s school are doing by keeping requirements for annual statewide assessments.
The bipartisan agreement also provides improved support for educators, especially for principals and school leaders. And it takes steps in the right direction by promoting transparency on resource inequities and rejecting earlier proposals to allow resources to be siphoned away from our neediest schools.
Further to Go
Yet there are areas where this bill doesn’t do enough to support the learning of students throughout this country. As the bill progresses, we look forward to working with Congress to ensure that a final bill will do more to maintain the crucial federal role in protecting our country’s most vulnerable students. The goal is not just to identify a problem, but to do something about it.
A good bill must expand access to high-quality preschool, to give children a chance to get off to a strong start in life.
A good bill must ensure that schools and educators have the resources and funds they need to do their jobs – and that schools with high proportions of low-income and minority students receive their fair share of those resources.
A good bill must ensure meaningful accountability, and support for action, in any school where subgroups or the whole school are persistently underperforming.
A good bill must ensure bolder action and focused resources for the lowest-performing five percent of schools, including America’s lowest-performing high schools.
A good bill must ensure strong support for innovations by local educators that change outcomes for students.
And a good bill needs to close a long-standing loophole in federal law that undermines the ability of Title I funds to provide supplemental resources for schools serving high concentrations of students from low-income families, and allows local funding inequities to continue.
Yesterday, at the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., I had the great opportunity to share the story of four-year-old Star Brown from Minneapolis. In her short life, she and her family have faced enormous challenges, and she could easily have ended up behind, before she ever started school.
With the help of teachers at the Northside Achievement Zone, however, Star is overcoming her challenges and is on track to start kindergarten next year. Her story is one of opportunity made real.
It’s easy to say that every child deserves opportunity—regardless of race, disability, zip code or family income. And it’s easy to say that we expect excellence from all our children. But it takes work to make opportunity real. Star, and the millions more students like her, deserve all the support and opportunity this country has to offer. Our work is to make sure that opportunity is not just a possibility, but a promise. Now is not the time to turn back the clock.
Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education
The University of Tennessee is tops among the 65 wealthiest programs, offering players an extra $5,666 each to cover their expenses.
The foundation wants 60 percent of Americans to have a degree by 2025. But with 10 years to go, it’s still 20 percentage points short of that goal.
The debate concerns how historians do their work and what protocols should prevail for critiquing and revising scholarship online.
Providing peer mentors and service-learning projects can help remedial students stay the course.
Twenty-six institutions show up on three warning systems the Education Department uses to identify troubled colleges. What does that tell us?
Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The law represented a major new commitment by the federal government to “quality and equality” in educating our young people.
When President Johnson sent the bill to Congress, he urged that the country, “declare a national goal of full educational opportunity.”
The purpose of ESEA was to provide additional resources for vulnerable students. ESEA offered new grants to districts serving low-income students, federal grants for textbooks and library books, created special education centers, and created scholarships for low-income college students. The law also provided federal grants to state educational agencies to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education.
In the 35 years following ESEA, the federal government increased the amount of resources dedicated to education. However, education remains a local issue. The federal government remained committed to ensuring that disadvantaged students had additional resources, however, because as a nation we were falling short of meeting the law’s original goal of full educational opportunity.
No Child Left Behind
In 2001, with strong bipartisan support, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to reauthorize ESEA, and President George W. Bush signed the law in January 2002.
NCLB put in place important new measures to expose achievement gaps, and started an important national dialogue on how to close them. By promoting accountability for the achievement of all students, the law has played an important role in protecting the civil rights of at-risk students.
However, while NCLB has played an important role in closing achievement gaps and requiring transparency, it also has significant flaws. It created incentives for states to lower their standards; emphasized punishing failure over rewarding success; focused on absolute scores, rather than recognizing growth and progress; and prescribed a pass-fail, one-size-fits-all series of interventions for schools that miss their state-established goals.
Teachers, parents, school district leaders, and state and federal elected officials from both parties have recognized that NCLB needs to be fixed. Congress was due to reauthorize the law in 2007, but has yet to do so.
Flexibility Under NCLB
In 2012, after six years without reauthorization, and with strong state and local consensus that many of NCLB’s outdated requirements were preventing progress, the Obama Administration began offering flexibility to states from some of the law’s most onerous provisions. To receive flexibility, states demonstrated that they had adopted and had plans to implement college and career-ready standards and assessments, put in place school accountability systems that focused on the lowest-performing schools and schools with the largest achievement gaps, and ensured that districts were implementing teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.
The flexibility required states to continue to be transparent about their achievement gaps, but provided schools and districts greater flexibility in the actions they take to address those gaps.. Today, 43 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico have flexibility from NCLB.
President Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan remain committed to reauthorizing ESEA to ensure that all young people are prepared to succeed in college and careers, that historically underserved populations are protected, and that schools, principals, and teachers have the resources they need to succeed.
Some have suggested that the new version of ESEA, which would replace NCLB, should roll back the accountability requirements for states, districts and schools, and allow states to shift funds from lower-income to higher-income districts. With graduation rates at an all-time high and improving for all groups of students, such changes would turn back the clock on the progress our country has made in closing achievement gaps.
In January 2015, Secretary Duncan laid out the Administration’s vision for a new ESEA. The vision includes an ESEA that expands access to high-quality preschool; ensures that parents and teachers have information about how their children are doing every year; gives teachers and principals the resources and support they need; encourages schools and districts to create innovative new solutions to problems; provides for strong and equitable investment in high-poverty schools and districts; and ensures that action will be taken where students need more support to achieve, including in the lowest-performing schools. Learn more about the new vision here.
One sexual assault is too many, which is why the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) are playing a strong role in working to address and prevent sexual assault on college campuses.
As part of these efforts, Secretary Duncan recently hosted a Student Voices session with students from campuses across the country to listen to their concerns and learn about the promising actions their colleges and universities are taking to tackle this pressing challenge.
The students represented institutions from California to Georgia and North Carolina to New York.
Under Secretary Ted Mitchell and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon joined Secretary Duncan for the discussion.
“This roundtable is an opportunity for [us] to hear from diverse students from multiple institutions in order to inform our work. We hope this is the kind of conversation that can happen across all of our institutions – one that continues the work of identifying best practices, and increasing the focus on keeping students safe,” Mitchell said.
The roundtable allowed for young leaders – like Raymond Smeriglio, Temple University’s Student Body President – to share his school’s efforts to create awareness and tackle this troubling problem.
“Temple recently conducted a six-month review of the school including three months of groundwork to see what additional resources were needed on campus, and what the campus was already doing right,” Smeriglio explained.
Students also discussed the most effective ways to align awareness efforts between K-12 and institutions of higher education.
Youth leaders like Kevin William Harvey, a senior at Morehouse College in Atlanta, shared what their schools are currently doing to help build strong partnerships with city leadership, raise awareness, and collaborate with experts in the local community.
Molly Walker, from Duke University, shared that many Duke students participate in a program called “Duke Splash,” where students have taught weekend classes to high school youth about gender violence.
Spelman College’s Briana Brownlow discussed her school’s Survivor organization, which coordinates a mentorship program using the arts to help elementary school students begin to be aware of the issues surrounding sexual violence.
Students also talked about the many ways the Obama Administration engages students to address this problem, including the recent launch of the“It’s On Us” campaign, which encourages all members of campus communities to actively think about ways to prevent sexual assault.
The Administration is very concerned about sexual violence on U.S. campuses, and has launched several initiatives to address this issue. In January 2014, President Obama and Vice President Biden established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.
In April of that year, the Task Force released its first report to the President, which includes recommendations to colleges and universities on how to eliminate sexual violence on their campuses. In conjunction with the release of this report, ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a frequently asked questions document to follow up on our Dear Colleague Letter. The Task Force also created NotAlone.gov, which the students praised for including resources from across the government on preventing and addressing sexual assaults in schools.
OCR has also increased transparency around its investigations of this issue. For the first time, the office made public the list of colleges and universities under investigation for their handling of sexual violence complaints.
No one should feel the threat of sexual assault as they pursue their education. This country’s college campuses should be free of violence, and it is our shared responsibility as a nation to end this outrage.
As the students and Department staff who attended this important Student Voices session agreed, finding the solution really is on all of us.
Devon King is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach and a senior at Boston University.
There are many ideas for streamlining the federal student-aid application. But that hasn’t happened yet, and students and advisers still grapple with it.
Laurie A. Leshin, the first woman to lead Worcester Polytechnic Institute, talked about the importance of having female leaders in higher education.
Cross-posted from Medium.
The demand for high-quality educational apps is increasing as communities become more connected, devices become more affordable and teachers and parents are looking for new ways to use technology to engage students. Yet many existing solutions don’t address the most urgent needs in education.
That’s why this morning Secretary Duncan announced the release of a new resource: The Ed Tech Developer’s Guide: A Primer for Developers, Startups and Entrepreneurs. Created with input from knowledgeable educators, developers, and researchers who were willing to share what they have learned, we designed this guide to help entrepreneurs, app developers, and educators apply technology in smart ways to solve persistent problems in education. It is our hope that the guide will answer key questions and highlight critical needs and opportunities for developing digital tools and apps for learning.
The guide highlights 10 specific areas where developers can focus their efforts for greatest impact. These opportunities represent some of the most urgent needs expressed by educators, parents, and students across the country. These stakeholders are seeking educational apps that improve mastery of academic skills, foster and measure non-cognitive skills, improve assessment experiences, engage families, support college and career planning, provide meaningful professional development for educators, improve teacher productivity, increase access for all students, and close achievement gaps.
Secretary Duncan highlighted the power technology holds for closing the opportunity gap, and meeting the needs of all students, regardless of geographic location, family income or any other demographic factor. All students have the right to an equitable education, and technology can be a powerful tool for making that a reality. For example, apps can provide access to virtual science labs and equipment that may not be available in schools, or digital connections to experts that may not otherwise be able to engage with students.
The guide also discusses some common pitfalls to avoid. For example, the value of technology for transforming learning is lost if it is only used to digitize traditional materials (e.g. scanning worksheets makes them digital, but doesn’t improve the learning experience). Instead, we encourage developers to think about innovative approaches that allow students to engage differently. What does technology make possible that could not be done before?
School leaders also report that developers often rely too much on what they remember about school from when they were a student and fail to address the complex, interrelated needs of today’s education system. Creating high-impact educational apps takes a whole community working together; in particular, educators must be involved at every stage of development for tools and apps to align with their priorities and effectively mesh with their daily workflow. The guide provides examples of successful collaborations between developers and educators to create meaningful educational apps.
Developers and entrepreneurs who choose to apply their talents to build tools for learning have the ability to help transform education in America and exponentially increase opportunities for all students.
Richard Culatta is Director of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education.
All parents hope their child will start school ready for success. Unfortunately, not every parent can find the high-quality early learning opportunity that sets their child up for success.
Earlier today the U.S. Department of Education released a new report outlining the unmet need for high-quality early learning programs in America. Roughly 6 in 10 four-year-olds are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs, and even fewer are enrolled in the highest quality programs.
While both states and the federal government invest in early learning, these efforts have fallen short of what is needed to ensure that all children can access a high-quality early education that will prepare them for success.
Significant new investments in high-quality early education are necessary to help states, local communities, and parents close the readiness gap that exists between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers.
For Latino children, the unmet need is especially great. While Latinos are the fastest growing and largest minority group in the United States, making up a quarter of 3- and 4-year-olds, Latinos demonstrate the lowest preschool participation rates of any major ethnicity or race.
And while most children who have access to preschool attend moderate-quality programs, African- American children and children from low-income families are the most likely to attend low- quality preschool programs and are the least likely to attend high-quality preschool programs.
Building on Progress
To address the unmet need for high-quality preschool, states and the federal government have invested in initiatives to expand access. These investments provide a strong base upon which we can build voluntary, universal access to high-quality early education that will prepare our nation’s students for success in kindergarten and beyond.
Over the past decade, governors from both political parties have pushed for the creation and expansion of publicly funded preschool programs. Since 2003, states have increased their investment in preschool by more than 200 percent.
The federal government has also worked to improve the quality and expand early learning through the Head Start program. Twenty states have also received support through the Early Learning Challenge program, which helped states improve early childhood workforce preparation and training, and strengthened health services and family engagement.
Congress took an important step in 2014 to address inequities in access to high-quality preschool by supporting the Preschool Development Grants program, a 4-year, federal-state partnership to expand the number of children enrolled in high-quality preschool programs in high-need communities. Thirty-five states and Puerto Rico applied, but due — in part — to limited funding, only 18 grants were awarded.
Preschool Development Grants will not cover every child in the funded states; however, these states will be another step closer to the goal of expanding access to high-quality early learning across the country. Over the 4-year grant period, and with continued funding from Congress, these states are expecting to enroll an additional 177,000 children in high-quality preschool programs, which will help put children on a path to success in school and in life.
Support for Early Learning
Over the last several years, an impressive coalition of education, business, law enforcement, military, child advocacy groups, and faith-based leaders have joined together to support the expansion of high-quality preschool programs. These groups recognize that investing in high-quality preschool means that more students will graduate from high school, go to college or join the armed or public services, and become contributing, productive members of our society with fewer youth and adults entering the justice system.
The evidence supporting early learning is clear. Research shows that children who participate in high-quality preschool programs have better health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes than those who do not participate.
Expanding early learning — including high-quality preschool — provides society with a return on investment of $8.60 for every $1 spent. About half of the return on investment originates from increased earnings for children when they grow up.
This year, as Congress seeks to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), our nation is at critical moment. Congress can honor this important legacy and moral imperative – as our nation observes ESEA’s 50th anniversary – by reauthorizing a strong education law. This new law must reflect real equity of opportunity, starting with our youngest children.
By making a significant investment in preschool a key component of ESEA, we can help America live up to its highest ideals, as a place with real equity of opportunity. Congress has a chance to honor and extend the civil rights legacy of our education law by providing all children — no matter where they live or how much money their parents earn — an equal opportunity to begin school ready to succeed.
A new book argues for a structured curriculum that gives students fewer choices and better guidance from registration through graduation.
The program, which provides scholarships equal to 42 percent off the university’s sticker price, will be open to students with fewer than 60 credits.
The association still faces questions about academic problems, but at this year’s Final Four the focus is on the game, not on whether athletes go to bed hungry.
The actress, playwright, and professor at New York University will also use Monday’s address to talk about what she calls the school-to-prison pipeline.
Less than two years after being forced to sell most of his company, Paul Freedman is back on the scene with a new idea.
Topics include the impact of increasing corporatization of universities and engaging issues of spirituality in student affairs.