Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – September 27, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week. Compiled by Penn Hill Group.


The Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee of the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing to examine the Department of Education’s (ED) proposed regulations on the supplement not supplant (SNS) provision in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) along with other committee leaders sent oversight letters to both ED and the Department of Labor asking for details on regulatory staffing changes in the final months of administration.

House Committee Chairman Kline issued a statement opposing ED’s decision to terminate Federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).


The Senate Appropriations Committee released a short-term continuing appropriations measure to maintain government operations through Dec. 9, 2016, which also provides funding to combat the Zika virus and for disaster recovery needs in Louisiana and other States as well as contains the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill.

Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced S.3368, the Access Success and Persistence In Reshaping Education (ASPIRE) Act. This legislation would rank colleges awarding bachelor’s degrees by Pell enrollment and 6-year graduation rates. Colleges with rankings in the bottom 5 percent of all schools would face fines and could lose Title IV eligibility. Fines would be distributed to low-performing colleges to help them improve.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Accreditation Reform and Enhanced Accountability Act, which would require ED to set minimum cut-off standards that accreditors must use when assessing colleges. In addition, the legislation would ban certain individuals from being part of the accreditation process and would require accreditors to use individuals from outside of their association.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter calling on ED, as it works to develop guidance for Title II of ESSA, to provide clarity and direction to States and districts on how to use Title II funds to address teacher shortages.

Senate Committee Ranking Member Murray released a statement supporting ED’s decision to withdraw recognition of ACICS.


The Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) announced that its members would expand its review of institutions of higher education to include a greater focus on graduation rates as well as other measures. C-RAC members will pay special attention to four-year institutions that have graduation rates that are, at a minimum, at or below 25 percent, and two-year institutions that have rates that are, at a minimum, at or below 15 percent.

ED has decided to terminate the Secretary’s recognition of ACICS as a recognized accreditor for Title IV purposes. ACICS has announced their intent to appeal this decision.

ED released non-regulatory guidance to help States, districts and schools provide effective services to improve the English language proficiency and academic achievement of English learners through Title III of the ESEA.

The Aspen Institute announced the launch of their National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD). Linda Darling-Hammond, John Engler and Tim Shriver were announced as the co-chairs.

ED announced the launch of its new package of supports to aid students affected by college closures, which will match students with financial aid and academic counselors who will provide guidance to the affected students on how to continue their studies.

The White House released a Fact Sheet on how to improve school systems’ discipline practices as well as announced the availability of additional supports to help address sexual assault misconduct in schools.

ED Secretary John King appointed six education leaders to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) to serve four-year terms. The appointees will help set policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which provides data on student performance in a variety of subjects to the public and to education policymakers.


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