Inside the Beltway

What’s happening in Washington?

Last week, U.S. Department of Education Secretary John King appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for a full committee hearing. The topic of the hearing was “ESSA Implementation in States and School Districts: Perspectives from the U.S. Secretary of Education.” The full hearing is available for viewing online.

Why should principals care?

Committee chairman and one of the chief architects of ESSA, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, took this opportunity to grill the Secretary on the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) proposed regulations, particularly on Title I funding, and to accuse the department of overstepping its regulatory authority. We expect the struggle between the legislative intent and ED’s interpretation of the law to continue to play out over the spring and summer as ESSA implementation continues. The ESSA negotiated rulemaking committee meets for the last time this week at the Department. Secretary King promised the results of the negotiations and any regulations as a result would be available by the end of the spring. NASSP advocacy staff is standing by!

In the Press

Policymaking on Education Data Privacy: Lessons Learned, NASBE

This report from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) examines the state policies on data privacy that have passed in recent years and how they have fared. From the pioneering states’ efforts, policymakers have learned that state boards have significant authority on data privacy and are primarily responsible for the safety of student data. State boards have also learned that stating the value of data is essential. How and why student data is used and stored needs to be transparent and clearly communicated to parents. More transparency means more trust. Second generation laws can learn significantly from the errors of the pioneering states.

Middle School Matters Field Guide, George W. Bush Institute

In talking with researchers, practitioners, and policymakers, the importance of the middle grades and the lack of attention to them became clear to the George W. Bush Institute. Although high-quality research on strategies to improve the success of middle grade students exists, they are inaccessible for school practitioners; for that reason, this field guide was compiled. In the guide, research is presented in the most practical way possible and has been continually updated with the help of education researchers across the country. The implementation strategies discussed are both instruction-focused (a section on reading interventions) and school-focused (a section on extended learning time [ELT]).

Comparing the Effects of Online and Face-to-Face Credit Recovery in Algebra I, American Institutes for Research

The use of online courses for credit recovery has become increasingly common. In a randomized study, researchers at the American Institutes for Research looked at the impact of taking credit recovery online versus in-person by following Chicago public school ninth graders in their Algebra I credit recovery courses. They found that students assigned to the online course were less likely to pass than students in the in-person course (66 percent vs. 76 percent). And students in the online course reported that their course was more difficult and grading expectations were less clear. They also reported lower confidence in math. There was not, however, significant differences in the students’ grades in subsequent math classes or in their graduation rates.

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