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Posts Tagged ‘NCLB/ESEA’

NASDCTEc Signs on to Extended Graduation Brief

Friday, August 19th, 2011

NASDCTEc has signed on in support of a new brief that encourage states’ use of extended-year graduation rates in adequate yearly progress calculations and incorporation of these rates into their state accountability frameworks/systems. Written by the American Youth Policy Forum, Gateway to College National Network, and the National Youth Employment Coalition, this brief, Making Every Diploma Count: Using Extended-Year Graduation Rates to Measure Student Success, aims to educate and inform states about the flexibilities that currently exist to use extended-year graduation rates as a policy mechanism to encourage schools and districts to continue to work with over-age, under-credit students.

These rates provide for the inclusion of students who take longer than four years to earn a high school diploma, but who successfully earn their credential in five or six years. Extended-year graduation rates allow states to document increases in graduation rates compared to the traditional four-year measure and highlight the successful work of schools and districts to get struggling and out-of-school students back on-track to graduation. The brief encourages states to calculate five- and six-year high school graduation rates to ensure that schools’ and districts’ efforts to serve struggling and off-track students are recognized and not discouraged.

The brief recommendations the following:

• In addition to four-year graduation rates, states should gather and report extended-year graduation rates.
• States should use extended year graduation rates for purposes of accountability.
• States should use extended graduation rates to create incentives for schools and districts to serve struggling and off-track students.

By Nancy in Publications
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Duncan to Grant Waivers from NCLB Requirements

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Due to Congress’ failure to act on reauthorization, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it plans to offer states relief from some of the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act in exchange for states’ support of the Administration’s education reform policies.

Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council, said during the announcement, “America’s future competitiveness is being decided today, in classrooms across the nation. With no clear path to a bipartisan bill in Congress, the President has directed us to move forward with an administrative process to provide flexibility within the law for states and districts that are willing to embrace reform.”

States will be given the opportunity to apply for a waiver from certain requirements in the law. These applications will be peer reviewed by individuals outside of the Department, but the final decision will belong to Secretary Duncan. The waivers would take effect during the 2011-2012 school year. Further details about the waivers will be released in September. However, rumors are swirling that states would be given waivers from NCLB’s 2014 proficiency deadline and more funding flexibility, in exchange for adopting college- or career-ready standards, creating differentiated accountability systems, and adopting teacher evaluation systems.

While the Secretary has clear legal authority to grant waivers from the law, it is not clear that he has the authority to make them conditional on support for the Administration’s reform policies.

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: No Debt Deal Yet, Duncan Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee, WIA Postponed, No Timeline for ESEA, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 29th, 2011

No Deal Yet

Debt ceiling talks picked up this week as scores from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on debt legislation were released. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (NV) plan would reportedly cut the deficit by $2.2 trillion, more than Speaker Boehner’s (OH) legislation.

While support for Boehner’s plan seemed to increase throughout the week, the GOP could not persuade enough members to support the measure last night and a vote on Boehner’s bill was postponed indefinitely. Many Senators contend that the bill would be quickly rejected if and when it makes it to the Senate floor.

Congress has until next Tuesday, August 2nd to come to a deal before the country hits its default deadline.

Duncan Testified at Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

At a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing this week, Senators were surprised to learn that spending at the Department of Education increased by 20 percent over the last two years. Education secretary Arne Duncan revealed that the increased spending was mostly due to the rise in Pell grant use, a conversation that dominated most of yesterday’s hearing. Duncan also brought up the Race to the Top and I3 funds as priorities, though several members questioned these approaches. Duncan stressed that all students need a well-rounded education and that youth and adults need “new skills for the jobs of tomorrow” but there was no mention of Career Technical Education as a method of delivering these goals.

View a webcast of the hearing here.

WIA Markup Postponed

The August 3rd markup of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has been removed from the Senate calendar. A new date has not been set.

No Timeline Set for ESEA

Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), chairman of the Senate’s Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, was unable to give a timeline this week when asked about a schedule for marking up the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill. Harkin stated that his discussions with the HELP committee’s top Republican, Sen. Michael Enzi (WY), are progressing but they still disagree on major issues like accountability, teachers and comparability. While Harkin would like to see a bipartisan ESEA bill passed, this seems very unlikely to happen before the start of the new school year.

For the first time since Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s controversial offer to grant waivers to states on aspects of the old law, Sen. Harkin suggested that he may be open to Duncan’s waiver idea if no progress is made on reauthorizing ESEA.

Bills Introduced:

Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act

Rep. Judy Chu (CA) and Rep. David Loebsack (IA) reintroduced H.R. 2637, the Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act to encourage collaboration among communities, schools and social-service programs to find solutions for challenges faced by struggling students to reduce dropout rates. The bill would award grants to states, who would award subgrants to local consortia. Grantees may, but are not required to, use funds to implement dual enrollment programs, early college high schools, and strategies for dropout prevention. Grants may also be used to fund opportunities for job training, career counseling, internships, and Career Technical Education.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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Webinar: How Does the Debt Ceiling Debate Impact Education?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

What impact are the debt ceiling debates having on education? Will the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) be reauthorized in time for the new school year? Is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan really going to pass waivers on the requirements of the old law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), if ESEA isn’t reauthorized on time?

Join the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national policy and advocacy organization, as they take on these questions in a webinar next Monday, August 1 from 3:00 to 4:00 ET.

Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance, will lead the discussion and respond to viewers’ questions.

Click here for more information and to register for the webinar.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst, kherbertson@careertech.org

By Kara in News, Public Policy, Webinars
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Legislative Update: Debt Talks Continue, Labor-HHS-ED Markup Postponed, ESEA at Standstill, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Debt Talks Continue

Even moreso than in the past weeks, the focus of Congress this week has been on reaching a debt limit deal. News reports earlier this week falsely stated that President Obama and Speaker Boehner had reached a $3 trillion deal, which both have since denied.

If Congress fails to come to an agreement on the debt ceiling by August 2nd, Americans may face, among other things, higher interest rates, decreases in the value of the dollar, and unstable financial markets. Key Members of Congress and the President plan to continue talks through the weekend.

The Senate voted down Republicans’ “Cut, Cap and Balance” measure this morning which proposed a plan to cut spending by $111 billion in 2012, cap spending over the next decade, and forbid borrowing until Congress reached an agreement on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

House Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee Markup Postponed

The House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED), the subcommittee responsible for appropriating funds to discretionary programs such as CTE, has pushed back its markup from July 26th until further notice. Due to the House schedule, this means that the earliest the markup for the FY 2012 Labor-HHS-Ed bill will occur is on September 7th.

ESEA at Standstill

Three bills passed by the House to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – on repeals, charter school expansion and innovation, and funding flexibility – have seen little movement in the past weeks. Senate markup will occur after August recess at the earliest.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has not given any additional information on the details of the ESEA waivers that would allow states to bypass aspects of the current law. Duncan stated last month that he planned to grant waivers to states if Congress does not reauthorize ESEA before the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

Bills Introduced:

National Youth Summer Jobs Act

Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH) introduced H.R. 2539, the National Youth Summer Jobs Act of 2011, that would award competitive grants to entities for the creation of job placement summer programs for out-of-school youth. Programs would be targeted toward basic-skills deficient and unemployed or underemployed young people. The goal of the bill is to increase GED attainment and job placement for participants.

Jobs for Urban Sustainability and Training in America Act

Rep. Steve Cohen (TN) introduced H.R. 2537, the Jobs for Urban Sustainability and Training in America Act, to provide grants for job training, public work and economic development programs in cities with high unemployment rates.

21st Century Readiness Act

Rep. Tom Petri (WI) introduced H.R. 2536, the 21st Century Readiness Act, to help students acquire 21st Century Skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communicating, collaborating, and creativity. The bill aims to fuse higher-order thinking skills with core academic knowledge to create content knowledge attainment in real-world contexts. The bill is being offered as an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Public Private Vocational Partnership Act

Rep. Don Young (AK) introduced H.R. 2549, the Public Private Vocational Partnership Act, an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. The build would allow a business credit for donations for vocational educational purposes.

Jobs Now Act

Rep. Frederica Wilson (FL) introduced H.R. 2574, the Jobs Now Act, to amend the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The bill would create a pilot program that would award grants to local government and community organizations to retain, employ, and train jobs. Funds used to provide training for veterans, individuals with disabilities, unemployed individuals, and dislocated workers would receive priority.

Promoting Partnerships to Transform Opportunities Act

Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ) introduced H.R. 2611, the Promoting Partnerships to Transform Opportunities Act, a bill that would amend the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to prepare individuals with barriers to employment to enter the workforce by receiving job training, education and support services. The bill would grant resources to nonprofit organizations and institutions serving underrepresented minorities to increase skills training, job placement, and on-the-job training.

By Kara in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: House Committee Passes ESEA Flexibility Bill; WIA Markup Rescheduled; Debt Talks Continue; All Children Are Equal Act; and Veterans Opportunity to Work Act

Friday, July 15th, 2011

House Committee Passes 3rd ESEA Bill

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved this week the third in a series of five bills designed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The third bill, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, passed the Committee despite strong opposition from Democrats and accusations of civil rights violation. Read more.

Workforce Investment Act

The Senate showed an effort to move forward with reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) last month when they released a discussion draft for comment. However, markup of the bill continues to be pushed back and is now scheduled to occur on August 3rd.

Debt Talks

With only two weeks left to take action, Congress still struggles to compromise on the debt ceiling. Republican House leaders will vote next week on a plan that would increase the debt ceiling if Democrats agree to $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years, in addition to passing a balanced budget amendment.

Obama disagrees with the Republican House plan, saying that “I have not seen a credible plan that would allow you to get to $2.4 trillion without really hurting ordinary folks.” The President continues to urge Congress to create a plan before a default occurs in early August.

Senator Mitch McConnell (KY) and Senator Harry Reid (NV) are working together to outline a plan that would give President Obama authority over the debt ceiling but would also demand its incremental increase.

Bills Introduced:

All Children Are Equal Act (ACE)

Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA) introduced H.R. 2485, the All Children Are Equal Act, to increase Title I funding through ESEA for rural districts with high numbers of low-income families. Currently, Title I funds are distributed through a complicated formula based on the size and concentration of poverty in a district. The formula often results in large, urban districts receiving much larger shares of funding than poor, rural districts. Thompson’s bill would place less weight on population to increase the formula’s focus on student poverty. The bill aims to provide more equitable distribution of funds for disadvantaged students in rural areas.

Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011

Rep. Jeff Miller (FL) introduced H.R. 2433, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, a bill to provide retraining assistance for veterans through community college or technical schools. The bill would require attendees to participate in a full-time program leading to an associates degree or certificate and a job in a high-demand field.

By Kara in Public Policy
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House Committee Passes ESEA Funding Flexibility Bill

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce today approved the third in a series of five bills designed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and reform the current education system.

Chairman John Kline (MN) introduced the bill, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, to provide maximum flexibility in the use of federal education funds to states and local education agencies. The controversial measure would allow states and districts to move funds, including Title I grants aimed to aid the most disadvantaged students, to targeted areas determined by states or locals.

Many Democrats contended that funds for the most disadvantaged students would be diverted and that students would suffer. Opponents like Rep. Mazie Hrono (HI) stated that the kind of “flexibility” sought by educators and districts across the country relates to avoiding prescriptive turnaround models and using growth models to measure student achievement, and not flexibility around the use of federal funds.

Republicans countered that states and districts would still need to comply with civil rights requirements. Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA) stated that “In no way does the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act grant any sort of authority to deny equal access to education for all students.” Proponents also praised the bill for putting control back into the hands of states and locals. “This [legislation] eliminates bureaucratic red tape and encourages local innovation to reform public education,” said Rep. Martha Roby (AL).

Several amendments were presented by Democrats on the Committee, but all were defeated. Bipartisan support will need to be reached if ESEA reauthorization is to occur in the near future.

Read the Committee’s summary of the bill here.

By Kara in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Higher Education Regulations in Effect, Debt Talks Continue, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Higher Education Regulations Proposed by Dept. of Ed. in Effect

In June, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved H.R. 2117, the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act, to repeal unnecessary credit hour and state authorization regulations to protect institutions of higher education and students from excessive burdens (See NASDCTEc’s blog “House Approves Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act”).

As a series of higher education regulations proposed by the Department of Education were recently put into effect, those in opposition are expressing their disapproval. Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce stated “These regulations are just another example of federal intrusion into areas best left to states and education leaders. At a time when individuals should be encouraged to pursue higher education, the department has created new regulations that will deny access to important education programs and weaken the nation’s workforce.” To read the House Education and the Workforce’s summary of the issue, click here.

Debt Ceiling Talks Update

President Obama echoed yesterday a statement that he has made before about the deficit-reduction talks: “Nothing is agreed to until everything’s agreed to.”

While Obama continues to meet with both Republican and Democratic leaders, no deal has been made. The President called yesterday’s talks “very constructive” and said that Congress would continue work over the weekend to achieve a deal. In an effort to compromise with Republicans, Obama is urging Democrats to consider a plan that would require big changes for Social Security and Medicare in exchange for increased revenues.

The U.S. Treasury imposed an August 2nd deadline for a deal before a default will occur. Leaders will continue to meet over the weekend to work on a deal.

Bills Introduced:

State and Local Funding Flexibility Act

Yesterday, Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee John Kline introduced H.R. 2445, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, which would give states and school districts much greater flexibility in funneling federal funds toward local education priorities. The bill is the third in a series of five bills that the Committee has proposed as a part of ESEA reauthorization. A summary of the bill is available here. NASDCTEc will provide more information on the bill as it becomes available.

Put America to Work Act

Rep. Ellison (MN) introduced H.R. 2368, the Put America to Work Act of 2011, that would direct the Secretary of Labor to make grants to state, locals and tribes with the purpose of creating job opportunities for unemployed and underemployed residents in distressed communities.

Preserve State/Institution Authority on Authorization and Credit Hour

Sen. Burr (NC) introduced S. 1297, a bill that would preserve state and institutional authority relating to state authorization and the definition of a credit hour. This bill contests a package of regulations recently put into effect by the U.S. Department of Education to create a federal definition of a credit hour and also requires increased authorization for institutes of higher education. See also “Higher Education Regulations” article above for more information.

Bill to Amend WIA and Promote Manufacturing

Sen. Rockefeller (WV) introduced S. 1329, a bill to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to create a pilot program that would facilitate the provision of education and training programs in the field of advanced manufacturing. The bill has been read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

By Kara in Public Policy
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Sec. Duncan and House Committee Clash Over NCLB Waivers

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Weeks ago, we reported U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s threats to waive parts of the outdated No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) if Congress does not reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) before the start of the next school year.

Since then, members of Congress have questioned Duncan’s assertion and his right to grant waivers to states in exchange for a commitment to follow initiatives that he champions. Rep. John Kline (MN), Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, disapproved of Duncan’s actions and requested more information on Duncan’s plan.

Secretary Duncan provided a response this week. In his letter to Rep. Kline and Rep. Hunter, Duncan explained that any instance of overriding the current system would provide only a temporary fix until the House completes reauthorization of ESEA. Duncan wrote that “I am convinced that current law increasingly is discouraging [states] from implementing important State and locally developed reforms and other innovations to the detriment of students.” He also explained that ESEA was due for reauthorization in 2007, and the Department of Education must move forward with more innovative options for education reform that did not exist at the time that NCLB was enacted.

While Duncan’s letter described his reasons for issuing waivers, he did not provide details on the waiver plan, such as when waivers would be reviewed or enacted. He did mention that state and local input will be considered.

After receiving Duncan’s response, Rep. Kline’s spokesperson stated that “It is disappointing the secretary continues to elude questions about his plan… Instead of touting murky alternatives, the secretary should lend his support to the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s ongoing efforts to advance targeted education legislation.”

Today, the Committee expects to release its third in a series of five bills intended to reauthorize ESEA. Secretary Duncan has already stated disapproval of the third bill.

Read more about the third bill from the House Committee, which aims to provide increased funding flexibility as part of ESEA reauthorization, in tomorrow’s Legislative Update from NASDCTEc.

By Kara in Legislation, News, Public Policy
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Senate, House Committee Staff Discuss Direction for Accountability in ESEA

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

At a briefing yesterday on Capitol Hill, staff members from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and the House Education and the Workforce Committee spoke about the school turnaround process and the new direction of accountability in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

A staff member of the Senate HELP Committee expressed support for the accountability roadmap designed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) as a model for states to follow when creating accountability systems (Read more about CCSSO’s accountability roadmap on the NASDCTEc blog). Systems modeled after the roadmap would still be required to meet high standards, but they would also be provided with more feedback and support to help schools make continuous improvements. The staffer commented that the HELP Committee would still focus on performance targets in ESEA reauthorization but that targets will be more realistic. To improve the school turnaround process, the staffer said that starting points for the Committee include looking at data, autonomy, school readiness, community buy-in, and student supports.

A staff member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee found a great deal of common ground in the House and the Senate’s views on ESEA reauthorization, but he said that the fundamental difference is in what each sees as the appropriate role of federal government in education. According to the staffer, the Committee is first looking at the progress made at the state and local level, and attempting not to interfere with this progress. The Committee’s primary concern is deciding for what schools should be accountable and to whom they should be accountable.

Both Committees agree that data collection and analysis are key components of the school improvement process.

The House is expected to present an accountability bill this fall that will be the fifth and final piece of its ESEA reauthorization package. So far, the House has approved the first and second bills in this series.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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