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Advancing ESSA’s goals – equity and excellence – will require as much attention to teaching and leadership as to accountability, standards, and assessment.  Learning Forward and EducationCounsel’s new toolkit, A New Vision for Professional Learning, helps states use ESSA to establish learning systems in schools that transform educator practice and improve student learning.  The toolkit includes an overview of ESSA’s provisions on  professional learning, checklists for states aligned to the five conditions states must establish to improve professional learning, and a number of new tools to establish a state vision for professional learning, examine current investments, and write a question in ESSA local plans that gets at the heart of professional learning that works.

In this paper, we examine the higher education regulatory triad (consisting of states, accrediting agencies, and the federal government) and its role in guaranteeing institutional quality for the millions of students receiving billions of dollars in federal student aid, paying particular attention to the state’s role in authorizing institutions of higher education as the sector expands dramatically beyond the scope of the triad as originally envisioned. The paper first parses the relationship between state authorization and non-governmental accreditation processes, and the various state approaches to the authorization role and function. The paper then explores the history and evolution of the state role in the establishment of institutions of higher education and their oversight, including attempts at reforming the regulatory framework as the sector grew to include more institutions with new missions and methods of delivery, and became the recipient of greater student and taxpayer investment. The paper concludes by articulating the need for enhanced state authorization standards in this new era of educational growth and offers a series of policy recommendations and questions for state and federal lawmakers to consider as we near a potential reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.


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Riley_Richard
August 11, 2016

On August 10th, 2016, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) released the report What Matters Now: A New Compact for Teaching and Learning.

 

What Matters Now makes a compelling case for changes to the current education system in order to educate all students well. By documenting systemic issues, such as teacher turnover and a burgeoning student achievement gap, the Commission points out that there is new knowledge and research that supports developing a system that is more flexible, innovative, and customized.

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I’ll never forget the first lessons I witnessed as a student teacher in a 4th grade classroom that, already in elementary school, embodied the notion of college and career ready preparation. The classroom had a mix of students of all abilities and backgrounds, including many students with disabilities and many who had just arrived in this country. These fourth graders were learning about geography, topography, and how to read maps – a set of lessons designed to help them master rigorous state and district standards. Desks were clustered in groups around the classroom — some at computers, some at art stations, some around maps, and some around writing materials – all different ways to engage with, learn, and apply geography concepts.

Helping each and every child master a college and career ready set of knowledge and skills like these should be the “North Star” in states, districts, and schools.As states (this year), and then districts (next year), develop, implement, and continuously improve over time their plans under ESSA, these 20 questions can help determine whether they are leveraging ESSA to the maximum extent possible towards college and career ready learning and equity.

Students who needed it received more individualized supports and instruction from the teacher, including in evidence-based peer interaction techniques and academic supports. As students learned the concepts, they also had to figure out how to collaborate, create, and write-up their projects together. There was no sitting at desks and memorizing geographic terms for a quiz – but, by the end of the unit, these students all demonstrated their deep knowledge of geography and map skills in a meaningful way. And that’s not all they knew. They had practiced working with each other, testing and communicating their ideas, peer editing, and problem-solving – doing the things people are expected to be able to do on the job and in life today.

August 3 2017
By Art Coleman

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Justice [DoJ] is taking steps “toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants.” The DoJ responded with indications that its effort was aimed at one case on behalf of Asian-American students—a position, according to the Times, that was greeted with some skepticism by others. While there is much more to learn about the Department’s planned action here, we should take this opportunity to reflect on the fact that time-tested, common sense principles derived from settled federal law continue to inform the work of higher education institutions today, just as they did last week…and last year.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s near 40-year history on the consideration of race- and ethnicity in higher education admissions (going all the way back to the landmark Bakke case in 1978) has shaped action by the U.S. Department of Justice and Education for decades–including in federal regulations, policy guidance, and enforcement resolutions (from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights).

1. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, 2013, and again in 2016 has embraced as “compelling” the substantial body of research affirming that the educational benefits associated with student diversity (enhanced teaching and learning, preparation for a 21st Century global economy and workforce, among other things) are “substantial” and “real.” And, in 2003 and in 2016, it specifically upheld challenged practices involving the consideration of race in admissions. Moreover, dozens of briefs filed by Fortune 500 companies, military officials, higher education institutions, and others, have helped shape the Court’s judgments, particularly with respect to the positive effects of diversity and the imperative of achieving sufficient student diversity so that all students benefit–on campus and beyond.

2. The U.S. Supreme Court’s near 40-year history on the consideration of race- and ethnicity in higher education admissions (going all the way back to the landmark Bakke case in 1978) has shaped action by the U.S. Department of Justice and Education for decades–including in federal regulations, policy guidance, and enforcement resolutions (from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights). Taken together, this body of guidance affirms the core principles associated with the benefits of diversity aims and sanctions consideration of all aspects of an student’s application–including race–in appropriate circumstances. Notably, these actions have reflected important bi-partisan baselines, including notable policy guidance on race-conscious scholarships (in 1994) that was initially drafted during the George W. Bush Administration and then finalized during the Clinton Administration.


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