Legislative Update: Regulations on Accreditation and Distance Learning, Title IV-A Coalition Holds Day of Action

In the first week of November, the U.S. Department of Education released final regulations on accreditation and distance education. Read below to learn more about what these regulations mean, the recent Title IV-A day of action, a forum on education in the current presidential race and stories of Second Chance Pell programs. 

Administration Finalizes Regulations on Accreditation and Distance Education 

On October 31, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos published the final regulations on accreditation and distance education as a result of the negotiated rulemaking process that occurred over the past year. In a statement Secretary DeVos said, “These final regulations demonstrate our commitment to working with student, State, employer, and institutional representatives to develop sound policies that serve the best interests of students. These reforms are necessary to bring higher education into the current century, to be more responsive to the needs of students, and to reduce the skyrocketing cost of higher education.

Some of the regulatory changes include: 

  • Accreditors can have separate faculty standards for instructors teaching dual or concurrent enrollment courses, as long as the instructors, “in the agency’s judgment,” have either the education or work experience to be in the instructor role. 
  • Accreditors can propose a three-year grace period to allow programs to come into compliance with the accreditor’s faculty standards for dual or concurrent enrollment. This grace period is able to be extended. 
  • Removal of the seven public disclosures that institutions with distance education or correspondence courses previously were required to provide, such as what the result would be if a student moved to a state where the institution did not meet State authorization requirements. 

The final regulations also include a summary of the almost 200 public comments received and the Department’s response. 

The regulations will go into effect on July 1, 2020. The Department also announced that proposed rules for distance education and innovation, TEACH grants and faith-based institutions will be published soon. 

The full press release can be found here and final regulations can be found here

Title IV-A Coalition Holds Day of Action 

On November 6, the national Title IV-A Coalition held a day of action to advocate for Congress to fully fund Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. That title authorizes and funds the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grants, which can be used by local education agencies to support student health and safety, the effective use of technology or access to well-rounded education (which includes CTE). In Nebraska, for example, Title IV-A dollars are being used to recruit CTE teachers to curate and develop educational resources aligned with college and career content area standards. The SSAE grants were originally authorized at $1.6 billion a year, but are currently funded at approximately $400 million less than that level. 

CEF Hosts Forum on Education in the 2020 Presidential Race 

On November 4, the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) hosted a Forum on Education in the 2020 Presidential Race. The panelists included Evie Blad and Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week and Michael Stratford of Politico Pro. The group discussed the role of education in the current presidential race, and the most pressing education topics in this campaign. There was agreement that education has been discussed more in this primary than in years past. Overall, the panelists pointed to where federal funding for higher education should be allocated, the question of how to increase salaries and the expansion of charter schools as some of the most discussed education topics by candidates. 

A full recording of the event can be viewed here

DeVos Shares Stories of Second Chance Pell Programs 

Earlier this week, Secretary DeVos again voiced her support of the Second Chance Pell Experimental sites initiative, that was established in 2015 to provide Pell grants to incarcerated individuals. Currently, over 10,000 students across 64 institutions participate in Second Chance Pell programs. Secretary DeVos shared videos that highlighted the Second Chance Pell program at the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Oklahoma, as well as the results of a Corrections Education Scholarship from Tulsa Community College.

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