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Deborah Koolbeck

Director of Government Relations

Comments Submitted? Here’s What’s Next

Today, AACTE submitted its comment on the U.S. Department of Education’s supplemental notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) for distance education programs in teacher preparation. If you have not yet done so, you have a few more hours–until 11:59 p.m. EDT, May 2–to share your perspectives on this proposal. See our resources here for guidance.

What’s Next?

After the deadline, AACTE will do some analysis to see what kind of responses were submitted and by whom.

Comment by May 2 on Proposed Regulations

It is time again to make your voice heard in the latest request for comments on the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed regulations on teacher preparation programs. The deadline to submit comments is Monday, May 2.

On April 1, the Department released a supplemental notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) affecting the implementation of the proposed teacher preparation program regulations for “distance education” programs. The Department seeks additional feedback on questions raised about these programs in some of the nearly 5,000 comments received on the initial NPRM last year.

AACTE stands ready to help you respond to this request for comment!

Webinar, Template Letter Available for Responding to Teacher Prep Regulations

Did you miss my webinar last week on the U.S. Department of Education’s latest action on the proposed regulations for teacher preparation programs? Don’t worry—you can view the archived slides and webinar recording online. You’ll get an overview of the supplemental notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) released April 1, along with some of the concerns and unintended consequences that could unfold. The webinar also reviews how to submit to the Federal Register.

In addition, we have posted a template letter for you to personalize and submit in response to the request for comment from the Department by the May 2 deadline.

U.S. Department of Education Seeks New Comments on Regulations for Distance Teacher Preparation Programs

On April 1, the U.S. Department of Education published a supplemental notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) regarding teacher preparation programs provided through distance education and addressing TEACH grant eligibility for students enrolled in those programs. This notice reopens public comment on the proposed teacher preparation regulations put forward in December 2014, but only in relation to the stated topics. All comments are due by May 2.

In this NPRM, the Department is considering how states would report on teacher preparation programs provided through distance education, particularly when students in multiple states are enrolled in the same program. The second area of concern is how TEACH grant eligibility would be determined for students in those programs that are available in multiple states.

New Action on Proposed Regulations on Teacher Preparation Programs

While we were convening at the 68th AACTE Annual Meeting, the U.S. Department of Education made its next move on the proposed regulations on teacher preparation programs. The Department sent the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a supplemental Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) focused on the distance education portion of the proposed regulations. OMB will review the supplemental NPRM prior to publishing it in the Federal Register.

We won’t know exactly what information the Department is seeking until the supplemental NPRM is issued. We also don’t know how long the comment period might be—but it could be as short as 30 days, so we will need to be ready to respond.

New ESSA Resource Available, Negotiated Rule Making Announced

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released a new document of frequently asked questions (PDF) on the transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from the No Child Left Behind Act.

While this 17-page document does not answer every question, it provides key hyperlinks and covers a range of topics, from state flexibility to requirements under different sections of the law. The Department will continue to update the document in the coming months.

President Releases FY17 Budget Request

On February 9, President Obama released the final budget request of his presidency, a request for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17). Next, Congress will respond with its own budget followed by the appropriations process—when lawmakers can choose to implement the president’s request or parts of it, or move forward on their own priorities. With the Congress under control of the Republicans during this presidential election year, the president’s request is unlikely to receive much focus.

The budget request for the U.S. Department of Education is $69.4 billion for FY17, a 2% increase over the FY16 level. The administration again proposes to eliminate the Teacher Quality Partnerships—the only federal grant program focused on strengthening and improving teacher preparation programs—replacing it with the Teacher and Principal Pathways programs. The administration also proposes to eliminate the TEACH grants in 2021 and increase loan forgiveness for teachers in high-need schools.

Department Offers Guidance on Using NCLB Funds to Reduce Testing

On February 2, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance to chief state school officers on how No Child Left Behind (NCLB) funds in effect through the 2016-2017 school year may be used to “eliminate redundancy and ensure efficacy and quality of assessment.” You might recall that the Department released a Testing Action Plan in October 2015 to reduce the overtesting of our nation’s youth.

The guidance elaborates on what the Department views as principles for good assessments. The principles state that every assessment should be

  • Worth taking
  • High quality
  • Time limited
  • Fair, and supportive of fairness, in equity in educational opportunity
  • Fully transparent to students and parents
  • Just one of multiple measures
  • Tied to improved learning

Department Issues New Guidance on ESSA

On January 28, the U.S. Department of Education issued more guidance to states on transitioning from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was signed into law in December.

The new law requires the eight states without NCLB waivers to continue intervening in schools identified as being in need of improvement in 2015-16 through 2016-17. But they don’t have to set aside 20% of their Title I dollars to provide tutoring and school choice. Should these states forego the requirement, they will have to develop and implement a 1-year transition plan to ensure their local education agencies provide alternative supports for eligible students and schools with the highest need. Additional information will be sent to the nonwaiver states in the coming days or weeks. (The eight nonwaiver states are California, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming.)

Opportunities Announced for Federal Grants, Peer Review Service

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) this week announced its 2016 grant competitions and timelines. Plan now for these upcoming opportunities (follow the hyperlinks for details):

The Office of Higher Education Programs facilitates grant programs that promote and expand access to postsecondary education, increase college completion rates for U.S. students, and strengthen the capacity of colleges and universities:

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