Beginning this past Wednesday and ending today, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) reconvened a panel for a third round of negotiated rulemaking on program integrity and improvement. Negotiators are discussing a number of proposed regulatory changes for postsecondary institutions including clock-to-credit-hour conversions, state authorization of distance learning programs, remedial coursework, cash management and — most contentiously — how to define adverse credit history for the purposes of certain federal financial aid eligibility.
Since a preliminary consensus had already been reached on clock-to-credit-hour conversions during the last round of negotiations, the panel moved quickly on a second draft of proposed regulatory language. The proposed changes maintain the existing conversion formula, but significantly improve the clarity of the regulation. The intent of this particular rule is to ensure that postsecondary students enrolled in programs which provide instruction based on clock hours rather than credit hours receive equivalent amounts of federal financial aid for the same amount of coursework. It is important to note that for a formal consensus to be completed, the panel must also reach consensus on the other issues currently under discussion.
A newly drafted set of rules governing state authorization of distance programs was also heatedly debated this week. These proposed regulations determine the legal authorization of postsecondary education programs provided by institutions that are not physically located in the state. These proposed rules would primarily affect online, distance and correspondence education programs. Such programs would need to meet the various legal requirements imposed by individual states to offer distance education programs in each state where an enrollee resides if 50 percent or more of a course can be completed remotely. Among many other proposed changes, an institution would not be eligible for federal financial aid for its students if its graduates are not able to receive a certification or complete a licensing examination required for employment in that state after program completion, unless the program obtains prior acknowledgement from the student.
A fourth and final round of negotiations is expected on May 19-20, 2014. As this process unfolds, NASDCTEc will continue to monitor these negotiations and gauge any potential impact on postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. More information on these negotiations and additional supplemental information can be found here.
NASDCTEc & IBM Host Briefing on CTE, Perkins
Yesterday the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) and IBM hosted a briefing for stakeholder groups interested in learning more about CTE and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). NASDCTEc’s Executive Director Kimberly Green and Stan Litow, IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs and President of IBM’s Foundation, provided a joint briefing on these issues in an effort to prepare these groups for the reauthorization of Perkins.
While no official timeline has been laid out by Congress for the reauthorization of the law yet, employers and other stakeholders groups in the education and workforce communities have taken a significant interest in CTE and the Perkins Act over the past year as the law has come due for renewal. As both the House and Senate take steps to reauthorize Perkins, the briefing provided important background information on the 2006 reauthorization process, emerging themes and major changes occurring within the CTE enterprise over the past several years, employers’ growing interest in CTE, IBM’s P-Tech initiatives in New York and Connecticut and finally what to expect in the upcoming legislative process surrounding Congress’ consideration of the law.
NASDCTEc would like to thank IBM for hosting the event and for those who participated in the briefing. As the reauthorization process gets more fully underway in the coming year, NASDCTEc looks forward to working constructively with Congress, employers and other stakeholder groups to thoughtfully renew the law which constitutes the primary federal investment in CTE and our nation’s high schools.
OCTAE RFI Update
Earlier this week, NASDCTEc shared an announcement from the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health & Human Services (HHS) regarding a request for information (RFI) on career pathway systems. This multiagency RFI is soliciting information from a diverse group of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, as well as from state, regional, tribal, and local entities on how to develop and improve career pathway systems. Specifically they are seeking information on effective career pathway models, best practices, barriers to their development and implementation, and also ways in which federal agencies can more effectively support these types of systems. Responses collected through this RFI will help inform future departmental career pathway strategies, policies, and investments.
Responses are due June 9th, 2014, and the official notice can be found here. The departments have also announced a webinar to provide an overview of this RFI and to provide instructions on how to respond. More information on that, including how to register, can be found here.
Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate