New analysis: State legislatures prioritize education data collection, use and protection

Twenty-six states passed 53 new laws focused on the collection, use, and protection of student data during the 2017 legislative session, according to a new analysis published recently by the Data Quality Campaign. The bulk of these new laws are going into effect this fall, ushering changes in state education agencies, school districts, and classrooms across the country.

While most legislative activity this year focused on privacy, some of these new data laws are focused on addressing some of the biggest current challenges in public education:

  • Connecticut passed a law that helps prospective students and their families make more informed higher education and career choices by creating a new public report about how students fare after graduating from different colleges and programs.
  • Maryland’s new law charges districts to report how discipline practices like seclusion and restraint are applied to students by characteristics like gender, race, and age. The law also mandates districts to use this data to revisit their disciplinary practices and associated teacher training.
  • Washington passed a law to collect and report information on paraeducators, as well as to establish associated data-informed standards and policies reflective of the unique role these educators have with Washington students.

Student data privacy has been a significant focus for lawmakers; they have introduced 504 bills and passed 94 laws since 2013 to improve how states and districts safeguard the privacy, security, and confidentiality of student data. This year, states have continued to refine these laws and adopt model laws from other states.…Read More

Washington lawmakers propose free community college

Proposal echoes President Obama’s call for free community college, which has not yet been implemented by Congress

community-collegeTuition at community and technical colleges in Washington would be free for state residents without a bachelor’s degree under a proposal announced Jan. 19 by a group of Democratic lawmakers.

Some qualifying students could also get a stipend for books and other expenses based on family income, lawmakers said at a news conference. The plan would apply to part-time students, too.

“We know that a high school diploma, while still foundational for every student, is simply not enough,” said Sen. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle.…Read More

Bill encourages entrepreneurship among college students

Legislation would establish competitive grant program to fund university business incubators

entrepreneurship-studentsA newly-proposed bill would create a competitive grant program supporting business incubators operated by or affiliated with universities and colleges in an effort to encourage entrepreneurship and more innovation among students.

U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) introduced H.R. 3990, the Start-Up America’s Students Act, which would create a competitive grant to establish, expand, or improve business incubators operated by or affiliated with universities and colleges.

Swalwell is the chair of the Future Forum, a group focused on issues and opportunities for millennial Americans. Future Forum members Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) joined as original cosponsors.…Read More

Critics question federal aid for MOOCs, boot camps

Partnerships between institutions and MOOCs, boot camp programs could be eligible for federal financial aid.

federal-aid-nontraditionalA new program from the U.S. Department of Education will open up access to federal aid for partnerships between colleges and universities and non-traditional education providers such as MOOC providers and skill-building boot camps. But some critics say scaling overnight isn’t the best idea.

The Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships, or EQUIP, will require partnerships to involve a quality assurance entity to ensure transparent student outcomes and ongoing quality improvement, U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell noted in a blog post.

The program’s goals are to:…Read More

Sen. Alexander promotes college aid accessibility in Tennessee

Overly-complicated forms make it harder for college students to participate in Tennessee Promise, he said

college-affordabilitySenate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) hosted a roundtable at Motlow State Community College in Tullahoma, Tenn., with area college presidents, students, student affairs and financial aid advisors, and high school guidance counselors to discuss his plan to simplify the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, that 430,000 Tennessee families fill out each year.

The first class of Tennessee Promise students began classes recently—with as many as 18,000 students taking advantage of the free tuition program. Governor Haslam has said that many prospective students are discouraged from the program by the FAFSA form. There still may be as many as 40,000 Tennessee families who are eligible for federal aid who are not filing the form.

“One of my top priorities in reauthorizing the Higher Education Act is eliminating unnecessary Washington red tape to make it easier to go to college,” Alexander said. “And that includes removing the chief obstacle for Tennessee high school seniors who want to take advantage of tuition-free community college by simplifying the dreaded FAFSA form, which 3,530 families of high school seniors in Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Lincoln, Moore, and Rutherford counties filled out this year to receive financial aid.”…Read More

Free community college plan now at congress

Scott, Baldwin introduce bill to make higher education more accessible and affordable.

college-bill-affordablePresident Obama’s idea of free community college for students, announced during his State of the Union address in January, is getting legislative backing.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently previewed the America’s College Promise Act of 2015 to press.

The America’s College Promise Act of 2015 (ACP), H.R. 2962, makes two years of community college free and aims to provide an affordable pathway for low-income students to a four-year college degree. The legislation would give students the opportunity to access quality and affordable higher education that gives them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.…Read More

Tech expenses could be allowed under 529 spending

New bill, which moves to Senate for approval, would allow for purchase of computers, internet access

college-expensesComputers and technology equipment would become qualified expenses in 529 college savings plans under a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 25.

H.R. 529 also designates computer software and internet access as qualified expenses while students are enrolled in school.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), highlights the importance of technology for today’s students and recognizes that computers, internet access, and technology tools are essential parts of learning, supporters said.…Read More

“Sloppy” red tape requirements costing universities millions

Study says Vanderbilt University spends $150 million, or 11 percent of its expenditures, annually, complying with federal rules and regulations–not the only university.

tape-regulation-universitiesAccording to a new report released by college and university leadership, government red tape requirements are costing colleges and universities not only millions in administrative tasks, but depriving students of lower tuition costs and hindering university research and innovation.

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate education committee, yesterday said a report released by a task force of college and university leaders—and commissioned by a bipartisan group of senators—shows colleges in a jungle of red tape that “should be an embarrassment to all of us in the federal government.”

At a hearing on the report, Sen. Alexander said: “These should not be excused as normal, run-of-the mill problems of government. These examples, and others like them, are sloppy, inefficient governing that wastes money, hurts students, discourages productivity and impedes research.”…Read More

What’s wrong with the TEACH Act?

TEACH aims to ensure that ed tech is accessible for all students, but some say the approach is misguided

teach-accessibility-technologyLegislation currently under consideration by Congress has opened up a fissure between institutions of higher education and advocacy groups for students with disabilities.

Known as the TEACH (Technology, Equality and Accessibility in College and Higher Education) Act, H.R. 3505 and S. 2060 are backed by the National Federation of the Blind and the Association of American Publishers, with endorsements coming from more than a dozen other organizations. The goal of the proposed legislation is to establish accessibility guidelines and standards for technology in higher education that, if followed, would ensure a school’s compliance under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

However well-intended the TEACH standards may be, some higher ed leaders fear that many institutions lack the ability to meet their rigor, potentially grinding the adoption of these vital resources to a halt.…Read More

Where the False Claims Act meets for-profit colleges: 4 hot areas for compliance

Where for-profit colleges are noncompliant, the DOJ has shown its willingness to enforce compliance through a robust tool—the False Claims Act


Administrators and employees of for-profit colleges need to be aware of a federal statute that may not immediately associate with these institutions: the False Claims Act (“FCA”).

Pressure has been building from the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to prosecute civil FCA cases against for-profit colleges in a growing number of areas.…Read More