On June 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court’s second decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin upheld the University of Texas’s (UT) race-conscious admissions program under federal law. In its analysis of UT’s policy and practice, the Court provided additional insight and guidance regarding the kind of action necessary to comply with federal nondiscrimination law. This document provides an analysis of the decision, followed by in-depth guidance on five key takeaways and implications for institutional policy and practice.

On May 31, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released its first round of draft regulations regarding implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on accountability, state plans and data deporting.  Comments on those draft regulations were due August 1, 2016.  Subsequently, on July 11, 2016, ED released draft regulations for state assessments under Title I, including Title I, part A (statewide assessments) and Title I, part B (Innovative Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority) of ESSA.  The Title I, part A proposed regulations for statewide assessments come directly from the language approved during negotiated rulemaking on this topic in the spring of 2016.  Public comments on all of the proposed assessment regulations must be submitted by September 9, 2016.  Final regulations for each of these areas (which will have the force of law) are expected in the fall of 2016.  Additional draft regulations including on “supplement not supplant” requirements are expected to be released this summer.  This is a revised summary analysis for all of ED’s proposed ESSA regulations to date.


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.


September 15 2016
By Sandi Jacobs

One perspective on teacher quality and the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) holds that ESSA marks an end to the federal focus on teacher effectiveness strategies that developed and grew over the last decade. With no explicit requirements in Title II and released from the conditions of their NCLB waivers, this argument holds, states will hastily retreat from new teacher evaluation systems and reforms in other related areas such as teacher preparation, tenure, licensure, and compensation.

But whether or not you believe that federal policy has been the major driver of states’ teacher efforts over the last decade, this point of view undersells a very significant point in ESSA, one that potentially makes teacher quality an even more important topic going forward.  ESSA doesn’t roll back at all the mandate that states focus on the equitable distribution of teachers; in fact, it pushes it forward. States must now go beyond looking at teacher qualifications and experience as required by NCLB, and specifically ensure that disadvantaged students have equal access to effective teachers.


Get EducationCounsel E-Updates.