Whiteboard Notes | ED’s Title IX Proposed Rules Receive More Comments; Access to Technology in Rural Communities Still Sparse; Online Students More Likely to Multitask

National Emergency Declaration Could Affect Aid on Military-Base Schools: An analysis of military construction projects circulated by the House Appropriations Committee found that more than $500 million in funding for construction projects at schools serving the children of military personnel could be in jeopardy due to President Trump's move to declare a national emergency and shift an estimated $8 billion allocated to defense construction and other purposes to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico. It remains to be seen if the President will ultimately be allowed to divert the military construction funding for the wall as sixteen states, led by California, are suing the administration over the move. [Politics K-12, subscription required]
 
Democrats Allege Interference in ED OIG Probe: On Tuesday, House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to Education Secretary DeVos acknowledging they have obtained evidence that a senior official at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) tried to oust the Department’s independent watchdog (the Office of the Inspector General, OIG) after she pushed back on an attempt to interfere in an active investigation of the Secretary. Democratic lawmakers from four House and Senate committees who oversee the Department signed on to the letter alleging that the effort to replace the Department’s acting inspector general, Sandra Bruce, had been related to her duties in overseeing the probe of DeVos’ decision to reinstate ACICS, an accreditor that had been stripped of its recognition by the Obama administration. [NBC News]
 
ED’s Title IX Proposed Rules Receive More Comments: Last week, the Department of Education’s (ED) proposed rules for how schools handle sexual assault allegations under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 drew more than 1,400 more comments in a 24 hour period. This comes on top of the more than 104,000 comments submitted during the initial 60-day comment period, which ended last month. The site that the public uses to comment on proposed regulations experienced multiple glitches during that time, prompting the administration to extend the comment period by an additional day. [Politico]
 
House Education Committee Announces Five Higher Education Hearings: This week, the House Committee on Education and Labor announced plans to hold five hearings on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The hearings are the beginning of a bipartisan effort to update the higher education law for the first time since 2008. The committee said that the five bipartisan hearings would focus on the following topics:
  • "The Cost of College: Student Centered Reforms to Bring Higher Education Within Reach"
  • "Strengthening Accountability in Higher Education to Better Serve Students and Taxpayers"
  • "The Cost of Non-Completion: Improving Student Outcomes in Higher Education"
  • "Engines of Economic Mobility: The Critical Role of Community Colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions in Preparing Students for Success"
  • "Innovation to Improve Equity: Exploring High-Quality Pathways to a College Degree"

[Politico Pro; subscription required] 

Hawaii Considers New Approach to Data Policies and Procedures: A bill that would establish a Chief Data Officer for the state is moving through the Hawaii Legislature. The new role would be responsible for developing, implementing, and managing statewide data policies, procedures, and standards, and would facilitate data sharing across state agencies. Additionally, the legislation would create a data task force, lead by the new Chief Data Officer, to support developing new data policies. The bill passed the House Finance Committee unamended on February 20 and is pending further action.

Oklahoma State Board May Adopt Statewide Student Information System: Legislation moving through the Oklahoma Senate would require the State Board of Education to issue a request for proposals for a statewide student information system (SIS) this year. If the measure is signed into law, the SIS selected through the proposal process would be administered on a pilot program basis for two years before full implementation statewide. The bill is currently pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee. 
 
Texas Legislators Propose Digital Portfolios for Elementary and Middle School Assessments: bill moving through the Texas House of Representatives would establish a pilot program for grades 3 through 8 to measure student performance, in part, through digital portfolios. Digital portfolios allow students to submit work samples, including written and oral presentations, for consideration as part of evaluating knowledge and mastery. Under the pilot program, student performance measured through digital portfolios would be considered as a percentage of a student’s overall assessment for purposes of accountability. According to the legislation, which is pending in the House Education Committee, the Commissioner must select districts to participate in the pilot no later than August 1, 2020.

Survey Finds Access to Technology in Rural Communities is Still Sparse: A recent ACT survey foundlarge discrepancies among rural and non-rural students with respect to their access to and use of technology. While rural students represent only one fifth of the public school student body nationwide, they were nearly twice as likely to indicate that their at-home internet access is “unpredictable”. The report recommends that policymakers consider these findings and turn their attention to closing this digital divide and providing equitable funding. [Education Week; subscription required]
 
Results of College Readiness Program Inspire Teachers:  Since adopting the college readiness program AVID five years ago, the students at Ridgeview Charter Middle School in Fulton County, over half of whom come from low income households, have received better grades, become more organized, and have gained the confidence to enroll in challenging classes during high school. According to the school principal, he has also witnessed the impact of the AVID program amongst his staff, which has resulted in an increasing number of teachers express their confidence in students’ preparation for college. [Hechinger Report]
Online Students More Likely to Engage in Non Educational Multitasking: Andrew Lepp, a professorat Kent State University,  assessed the impact of students who multitask during online courses. Out of the 300 Kent State students surveyed, 25 percent were more likely to engage in a set of behaviors (i.e. listening to music, texting, social networking, internet browsing etc.) in online rather than during in-person courses. Lepp pointed out that his findings are most relevant for undergraduate students who have access to traditional face-to-face courses, enrolled in traditional institutions of higher education, and live near or on campus. [Inside Higher Ed]
 
Study Discovers More Teenage Girls Plan for College: According to a recent survey, 68 percent of teenage girls plan to attend a four-year college compared to 51 percent of teenage boys. Collectively, 12 percent of teenage students surveyed plan to enroll in a two-year college, while 5 percent of teenage students plan to work full-time, enroll in a technical school, or join the military. The survey was completed by the Pew Research Center, which surveyed teens aged 13 to 17 on a variety of issues including anxiety, academics, and future plans. [Inside Higher Ed]
Google for Jobs Standardizes Remote Job Openings:  Recently Google for Jobs announced plans to standardize remote job openings across its platform. The update will allow providers to label remote jobs in Google search and allow job seekers to more directly find remote jobs. [Recruiting Headlines]
 
A Combination of Soft Skills and Tech Skills are Crucial: Based on recent findings from LinkedIn’s 2018 Emerging Jobs Report, job seekers are advised to develop a combination of in-demand tech skills and soft skills, such as oral communication, time management, and leadership.. [KQED]
 
Use of Gamification Increases in Employee Assessments: Gamification is a growing trend among employers’ use of employee assessments.  While gamification can increase employee engagement, human resources professionals argue that those using such assessments should make sure they’re scientifically based and used appropriately. [HR Daily Advisor
Study: How Community Eligibility Affects Poverty Rate Data: Many of the concerns about the Community Eligibility Provision for school meals may have been unfounded, according to a study by researchers at the University of Missouri. Data from the study shows that the number of students receiving free or reduced price lunch increased by just 2.3 percentage points. [Hechinger Report]
Private Equity Firm Buys Pearson K-12 Materials - Pearson, a British assessment and curriculum developer, has sold its US K-12 courseware business to Nexus Capital Management for $250 million. The deal’s structure consists of an upfront payment, the full payout in three to seven years, and Pearson retaining 20 percent of future revenue. Pearson says the sale is part of its effort to simplify the company and increase its efficiency. [MarketBrief]
 
Hoonuit Announces Tool for Education Leaders - Hoonuit, a leading provider of education analytics and professional learning solutions, has introduced the Hoonuit Human Capital solution suite, a tool dedicated to data and analytics solutions to develop education leader pipelines, improve educator effectiveness, and evaluate compensation. [HR Technologist]