Six Ways Government Could Impact Education In 2014

Career College Central summary:

  • A number of policy measures stand to impact education at all levels in the coming year. The No Child Left Behind Act, for example, was passed in 2002 and continues to have bureaucratic impact in Washington and across the country. Meanwhile, Obama's college rating system has been a hot topic since the day it was announced, but it hasn't even materialized as legislation yet. What kind of impact could the government have on education in 2014? Here's a look at six state- and federal-level efforts that could make a difference:
  • 1. OBAMA'S COLLEGE RATINGS SYSTEM — The administration's proposal to determine disbursement of federal money to colleges with an affordability ratings system was revealed over the summer and promises to be a prime topic in higher education in 2014. The Department of Education has solicited input via open forums, as well as through email and consultations with experts. Recently, two senators have offered legislation that mirrors some of what the White House proposed.
  • 2. REAUTHORIZATION OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT — Congress is holding hearings and asking for input on the 50-year-old Higher Education Act, which controls federal student aid and federal money for colleges. There's big money at stake: The law sets loan limits, governs accreditation and determines who gets funding and how much of it. Legislators in both parties will likely be scrutinizing colleges' costs and results, and Democrats will likely push to limit money for for-profit colleges.
  • 3. THE "GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT" RULE — This year the U.S. Department of Education said it planned to continue trying to institute stricter standards on vocational higher education programs. A previous "gainful employment" proposal would have taken federal aid from career-focused programs whose graduates had high debt-to-income ratios and slow loan repayments, but was partially blocked by a federal judge. A draft of new rules, debated in November, is stricter than some past versions. It would require some programs to seek federal approval to award aid and would force programs to have state approval and accreditation to qualify students to sit for licensing exams. Negotiations on the rules continue.
  • 4. COMMON CORE INITIATIVES — Common Core standards have been adopted by 45 states, but that doesn't mean it's a settled legislative topic. New York's governor has said he would consider “legislative changes” to address parents' concerns over the standards. Legislators in Florida, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania have tried to do away with the standards. Others may follow in 2014. In Maine, for example, a petition campaign aims to repeal the state's involvement with Common Core, with a question on the November 2014 statewide ballot a possibility.
  • 5. NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND — Since the Obama administration in 2011 announced that it would offer waivers for states that met certain conditions (such as tying teacher evaluations to students' test scores), most states have been operating under a waiver. This allows them to be exempt from some of the law's most stringent requirements. In August, the Department of Education said that in order to renew their waivers, states would need to show they are giving low-income and minority students effective teachers and that they are effectively using federal money for professional development. Later, the department said it was doing away with those two requirements. Dozens of states have waivers that expire at the end of this school year, so their renewal is likely to be a hot topic in 2014.
  • 6. TEXTBOOK AFFORDABILITY — Since 1978, the price of textbooks has grown 812% — 82% in just the last decade. U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Dick Durbin want to lower book costs by promoting the use of open-source textbooks. The senators' bill would set up grants to support programs at colleges and universities that expand the use of open textbooks.

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