Education Trust News

Proposed Gainful Employment Regulations Are Smart for Students, Taxpayers

This week is round two of negotiated rulemaking on the Department of Education’s gainful employment proposal, designed to protect students from poor performing career education programs. Last year, a federal judge tossed out much of the gainful employment regulation the Department of Education issued in 2011, while at the same time insisting the department has the authority to ensure career education programs prepare students for gainful employment. Since the initial rule was issued, the public cry for an enforceable definition of gainful employment has grown louder, and the department’s new proposed regulation is a step in the right direction toward holding these programs accountable for preparing their students.

Obama’s Higher Ed Plan: Details Matter

President Obama’s higher education plan, announced during a speech in Buffalo, N.Y., last month, pledges to make college more affordable. In it, Obama proposes a ratings system that measures college performance — graduation rates, loan default rates, and first-year career earnings for graduates, among other metrics — providing a systematic way to support changes to federal financial aid to colleges by linking it to outcomes. Colleges deemed effective under the ratings system would receive more federal money than colleges showing poorer performance.

Waiver Renewal Guidelines a Step Forward on Key Issues, Though Not Always a Big One

WASHINGTON (August 29, 2013) — The NCLB waiver process has been far from perfect. Among other things, the initial waiver guidelines allowed states to radically reduce the emphasis on subgroup performance and were totally silent on one of the most important issues of our day: fair and equitable access to strong teachers.

In the renewal guidelines released today, the Department of Education took some steps — though in some cases, far too small — to address these and other problems.

Ed Trust’s Comments on Civil Rights Data Collection

The U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) has the potential to be an invaluable resource to advocates and civil rights groups fighting for equity. It includes information not available from other sources about students’ school experiences and access to educational opportunities, disaggregated by different student groups. But the collection contains a number of inaccuracies and inconsistencies that undermine its use. Recognizing the huge value of the CRDC but also the need to make improvements to it, The Education Trust submitted public comments with recommendations for future data collections. These comments are aimed at improving the quality and usability of these important data.

ACT Annual Report: A Reminder of How Far We Have to Go

Last week, the ACT released The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2013, its annual report examining performance and college readiness among ACT-tested graduates. The report’s findings remind us that we have a long way to go to make sure that all students leave high school prepared for college and the workplace.

Ed Trust Welcomes Sonja Brookins Santelises as Vice President of K-12 Policy and Practice

SonjaWASHINGTON (August 22, 2013) — The Education Trust is proud to welcome Sonja Brookins Santelises as vice president of K-12 policy and practice.

Sonja comes to The Education Trust with many years of experience in K-12 education, most recently as chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools. As chief academic officer, Sonja was responsible for the academic vision of a district serving 85,000 students. Under her leadership, Baltimore became a national leader in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Stakeholders Must Do More to Help Parents, Public Understand the Common Core

Nearly every state across the country — 46 and the District of Columbia — have adopted the Common Core State Standards in at least one subject since they were developed in 2010. However, results from two new polls show that the message about these new, more meaningful expectations hasn’t adequately reached parents and the public. As students across the nation head back to school — and, in many cases, receive instruction aligned to the Common Core for the first time — it’s critical that states, districts, schools, and advocates make sure to communicate clear information about what these standards are, why they matter, and what kinds of changes can be expected to result.

Early College Model Shows Promise for Above-Average Achievers

As high schools around the country struggle to find ways to prepare students for the rigors of college, they might take a look at how the Early College High School model is taking on this challenge. The approach, which exposes low-income students and students of color to college-level expectations even before they graduate from high school, is showing some promise on this front. According to a recent evaluation by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Early College students, who typically are on or above grade level when they enter high school, are significantly more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in four-year colleges than otherwise similar students.

New Brief Underscores Urgency to Improve Native Student Achievement

WASHINGTON (August 13, 2013) — Despite recent progress in improving achievement among students of color, achievement results for Native students have remained nearly flat. As performance has stagnated, the gaps separating Native students from their white peers have mostly widened.

New Round of Race to the Top District Program Must Not Ignore Equity in Push for Personalized Learning

Last week, the Department of Education released the application for the FY 2013 Race to the Top – District competition. As was the case for the program’s inaugural year, this year’s application asks local education agencies (LEAs) and consortia of LEAs to discuss how they will personalize learning environments to meet individual student needs and help them graduate college and career ready. Unfortunately, this year’s competition does not address our previously stated concerns that this approach could grow gaps between groups. As we said last year, applicants and reviewers must make sure that plans discuss how personalized learning will complement other efforts to raise achievement and close gaps.