Advocacy Update

Department of Education Update

Incoming Secretary of Education John King held an education stakeholder meeting last Tuesday to discuss his priorities for his term that begins in January as well as some of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) thinking on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) rule-making process. He also announced a new website to house all information related to the new education law. NASSP’s Director of Advocacy Amanda Karhuse and Associate Director Advocacy David Chodak were in attendance.

ED published a Dear Colleague letter on Friday addressing the transition to ESSA and also launched the rulemaking process by announcing a Request for Information and two public hearings on Title 1 of ESSA. Members are encouraged to read the updates from the Department of Education and submit their own comments on Title 1 by the January 18 deadline. Officials are looking for comments on assessments and also on the requirement that Title 1, Part A funds supplement—not supplant—local and state funds for schools.

Inside the Beltway

What’s going on in Washington?

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced last Wednesday that a deal had been reached to fund the government through September 2016. The omnibus spending bill lays out how the government will spend the $1.1 trillion dollars budgeted for FY 2016. The House easily passed the bill in a vote of 316-113 and the Senate passed the bill 65-33.

Why should principals care?

The $1.2 billion boost for education is seen as a major win after a year of anticipated cuts to education. Read NASSP’s commentary in another School of Thought blog post to find out which key education programs were or were not included in the bill.

In the Press

Using Dual Enrollment to Improve the Educational Outcomes of High School Students, ACT

ACT has launched a multiyear commitment to increase the number of eligible high school students in dual enrollment programs across the country. ACT cites two major benefits of dual enrollment programs: they shorten the timeline for degree completion and ease students’ transition to college coursework and college expectations. Dual enrollment has been increasingly favored by our nation’s governors, gaining increased mentions in state of the state addresses. As many as 2 million students participate in dual enrollment courses today—up from about 1.2 million in the 2002–03 school year.

U.S. High School Graduation Rate Ticks Up to 82 Percent, Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Education released its latest graduate figures last Tuesday. The U.S. high school graduation rate has reached its highest yet at 82 percent and the achievement gap has narrowed. However, the report showed wide disparities in graduation rates based on where students live. Iowa has the nation’s highest graduation rate of 91 percent. Nebraska, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Texas, New Hampshire, and Indiana all boast graduate rates in the high 80s while Nevada and New Mexico trail at the bottom of the pack with graduate rates in the 60s.

Senate Strike Deal to Revive Expired Perkins Loan Program, Inside Higher Ed

Senate lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement last Tuesday to revive the expired federal Perkins Loan program for two years, but to tighten the eligibility criteria for the loan. The chairman of the Senate education committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), has advocated for the shutdown of the program in order to help simplify the federal government’s student loan programs, but proponents of the program worry that students will lose in the end with fewer options for student loans.

Promoting Student Achievement Through Improved Health Policy, National Association of State Boards of Education

The National Association of State Boards of Education has published a new policy update outlining the evidence in support of coordinated health and education policies, the role for state policymakers, and an exemplary policy from Virginia. The emphasis is on the Whole School, Whole Community, and Whole Child model created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which links together policies on physical education, nutrition, health education, school health services, counseling services, staff wellness, school climate, school safety, and family engagement.

Advocacy Update will be on hiatus until the the new year—the next new post will be published on Monday, January 4, 2016. Happy holidays!

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