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Trump Executive Order Seeks to Scale Back Federal Role in K-12 Education

The 74 Million – Carolyn Phenicie

“President Donald Trump’s plan to sign an executive order requiring the U.S. Education Department to study and scale back the federal footprint in K-12 education came as no surprise to accountability hawks critical of the administration’s retreat and encouraging news to conservatives, who say it can’t happen fast enough.”(more)

New Report Shows Increased Need for Federal Investments in Early Learning

Home Room: Blog for U.S. Dept of Education – Staff Writer

“Are there too many federal early learning programs? This question has been contentiously debated and discussed in Washington, DC for years. Are programs that simply permit funding for early learning as a part of a larger initiative, such as Title I or English Language Acquisition grants, considered early learning programs? Should programs that merely mention the importance of early learning – the Appalachian Area Development grants or Donations of Federal Surplus Personal Property program – be considered early learning programs? These issues have emerged from a 2012 Government Accounting Office (GAO) report.”(more)

Proposed Changes to Higher Education Act Clear House

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“A number of bipartisan higher education bills have been passed by the House of Representatives in an effort to provide solutions to elements of the Higher Education Act currently in need of an update. In all, five bills were passed by the House which address some of the issues within the Higher Education Act, including a simplification for the application for federal student aid, making information about colleges and universities readily accessible, and offering benefits for historically black colleges those who serve Hispanic students…One of the bills, sponsored by US Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, seeks to help students and their families obtain the necessary information they need to choose a college. The bill will create a US Department of Education tool called the College Dashboard, which will be available online and will include key data pertaining to financial and economic statistics on universities across the country.”(more)

No Excuses for Stagnant Student Achievement in U.S. High Schools

Education Next – Matthew M. Chingos and Kristin Blagg

“With graduation rates at an all-time high, three million students will graduate from U.S. public high schools this spring. But federal achievement data indicate that these students likely have no better math or reading skills than their parents did. Commentators often try to explain away this troubling trend as an artifact of changing student populations, flaws in test design, or declining student effort on low-stakes tests. But a new analysis suggests that stagnant high school achievement is a real phenomenon that warrants increased attention…In a new Urban Institute report, we examine four hypotheses for why achievement gains fade out by the end of high school. In short, we find little evidence to support any of them…For too long, the academic performance of the nation’s high school students has been overlooked or explained away…That needs to change. All of the available data provide a wake-up call for researchers and policymakers to renew their commitment to high school students and ensure that the academic gains that elementary and middle schools have produced are not squandered.”(more)

Obama to forgive the student debt of permanently disabled people

The Washington Post – Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

“The Obama administration plans to forgive $7.7 billion in federal student loans held by nearly 400,000 permanently disabled Americans. By law, anyone with a severe disability is eligible to have the government discharge their federal student loans. The administration took steps four years ago to make the process easier by letting people who are totally and permanently disabled use their Social Security designation to apply for a discharge, but few took advantage. The Department of Education is now taking it upon itself to identify eligible borrowers and guide them through the steps to discharge their loans. “Too many eligible borrowers were falling through the cracks, unaware they were eligible for relief,” said Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell in a statement. “Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief. And we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to receive the benefits they are due.””(more)

Making College More Affordable for More Americans & Improving College Choice

U.S. Dept. of Education – Staff Writer

“The President’s blueprint unveiled last September aims to make it easier to get federal student aid by streamlining the process of submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)….Filling out the FAFSA—at no cost—opens the door for students to receive potentially thousands of dollars in federal aid. Yet each year, about two million Pell-eligible students do not fill out the FAFSA—and millions more may have enrolled in college had they known that aid were available. To further streamline and simplify the FAFSA, the President announced a plan that will allow students and families to apply for financial aid earlier—starting in October, as the college application process gets underway—rather than in January…Learning about financial aid eligibility earlier in the college application and decision process will enable students and families to determine the true cost of attending college—taking available financial aid into account—and make more informed decisions as they are searching for, applying to, and choosing colleges.”(more)