Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — June 20, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group: 


The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a committee hearing on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on Thursday, June 23. U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary John King, as well as additional witnesses, will testify.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) wrote Secretary King and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell urging strong collaboration between ED and HHS in implementing the preschool program authorized in ESSA.


ED released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on borrower defense and related matters. Related to borrower defense, the NPRM would establish a new process for borrowers to assert a defense to repayment in situations where misrepresentation, breach of contract or a favorable State or Federal court judgement against a school has taken place. In addition, the rule would establish new financial responsibility requirements, require the issuance of warnings by for-profit institutions that have low loan repayment rates and prohibit the use of mandatory arbitration in certain circumstances.

A staff report from ED has recommended the termination of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). This recommendation will be considered by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) next week and, as reported by Inside Higher Ed, NACIQI will have ten days to pass its decision back to Emma Vadehra, the Secretary’s Chief of Staff. Vadehra will then have 90 days to make a final decision. If a termination decision is made, ACICS will have 30 days to appeal this decision and schools that ACICS has accredited will have 18 months to gain accreditation from a different recognized accreditor in order to remain eligible for Federal student aid.

ED’s Offices for Civil Rights and Career and Technical Education released a Dear Colleague letter stating that all students, regardless of their sex, must have equal access to the full range of career and technical education (CTE) programs offered at a school or institution.

The White House announced over $20 million in new commitments from the private and non-profit sectors to the Let Girls Learn Initiative, an initiative to support adolescent girls in attaining a quality education worldwide.

ED and HHS released a report on the pay gap for early education teachers, High-Quality Early Learning Settings Depend on a High-Quality Workforce. The report indicated that on average, preschool teachers earn 55 percent of wages earned by kindergarten teachers and 52 percent of wages warned by elementary school teachers.