Whiteboard Notes | ED Eases FAFSA Verification Procedures; WV Considers Pay Incentives for Math Teachers; EdSurge’s State of EdTech Survey

Department of Education Eases FAFSA Verification Procedures: On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education issued an electronic notificationthat makes it easier for families to provide proof of their income, clearing the way for some of the neediest college students to gain access to federal loans and grants. The notification provides institutions with flexibilities that may be used as part of their verification procedures their Free Application for Federal Student Aid/Institutional Student Information Record (FAFSA/ISIR) information.  Rather than having to obtain an official tax transcript to verify their household income, students can now provide signed copies of tax returns. College financial aid officers will also be allowed to accept signed statements from applicants whose families do not file tax returns. The changes will take effect immediately. [The Washington Post
ED Announces New Hires: On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education announced a set of new hires, resulting in approximately 26 positions ranging from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) to the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs. Notable hires include Casey Sacks, who joins the Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education and Dan Currell, who will serve as Deputy Under Secretary in the Office of the Under Secretary. Currell will coordinates policies, programs and activities related to vocational and adult education, postsecondary education, college aid and the President’s financial reforms for the Pell Grant program. [U.S. Department of Education]
Administration Unveils New Proposal for Higher Education Accreditation: On Monday, Bloomberg Government reportedthat the U.S. Department of Education has proposed a draft regulation providing guidance around the higher education accreditation process. The changes will be debated later this month, in what is known as negotiated rulemaking by a group made up of students, colleges, loan servicers, state agencies and others. The negotiations are part of the process to finalize a regulation on standards for college accrediting agencies, which review college quality and certify whether schools should be eligible to receive federal loans and grants. The proposed rules would loosen oversight for accreditors and religious institutions, and they give colleges more flexibility to define their own programs — particularly concerning online and competency-based education (CBE), the credit hour and correspondence courses. [Bloomberg Government]  


The start of the new year means that many state legislatures are back in action and convening for 2019 legislative sessions this month. DelawareKentuckyMinnesotaMississippiNew JerseySouth CarolinaSouth Dakota,TennesseeTexas, and Wyoming convened on January 8. Connecticut,IllinoisMarylandMichiganMissouriNebraskaNew YorkNorth CarolinaVermontVirginia, and West Virginiaconvened on January 9. Next week, ArizonaArkansasGeorgiaIowaKansas, and Washingtonare scheduled to convene on January 14, and AlaskaNew Mexico,and Wisconsinare scheduled to convene on January 15. 
Georgia Senate Makes Recommendations for Supporting Students with Dyslexia:A Senate committee within the Georgia General Assembly has issued a reportwith recommendations for better addressing the needs of students with dyslexia in the state. The committee’s suggestions include that: 1) The University System of Georgia create a dyslexia and language disorders course of study as part of the curriculum for prospective teachers; 2) The state mandate screening for all Kindergarten students statewide; 3) The Georgia Department of Education create and require teacher training on dyslexia, reading, and language disorders; 4) The Georgia Professional Standards Commission create a Dyslexia Endorsement recognizing teachers qualified to recognize and appropriately respond to dyslexia and other language disorders. [WABE]
Indiana Receives Federal Grant for Early Childhood Education: The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has a one-year federal grant of almost $7 million to evaluate and improvethe state’s early childhood education programs. Administered through the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning, the funding will be used to help identify best practices, assess gaps in services for low-income and rural students, and strengthening the state’s early childhood workforce, among other initiatives. [Inside Indiana Business]
West Virginia Considering Possible Pay Incentives for Math Teachers: West Virginia State Superintendent Steve Paine has voiced supportfor pay incentives for teachers to improve math education skills and teaching techniques. The Superintendent’s plans to address math instruction come in the wake of low student math proficiency scores in recent years -- an issue that Governor Jim Justice (R) alluded to in his State of the State address this week. President of the West Virginia Education Association, Dale Lee, however, has suggested that instead of paying math teachers differently the state should offer free classes to teachers interested in new certifications. [The Gazette-Mail


Identifying Number of Low-Income Students in Public Schools Increasingly Challenging:It has become increasingly difficult to trackthe number of students from low-income households, due to the large number of children from immigrant families who remain unaccounted for, as well as the expanded eligibility for free and reduced lunch, which no longer equates to the number of poor children in a school (1 in 5 schools now offer free lunch to all their students). The number of poor students in schools and districts is used in determining the appropriate amount of state and federal aid, and in setting accountability measures and assessing the achievement gap. [U.S. News and World Report]
LA Teachers Set to Go on Strike Next Week: An estimated 32,000 teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District are planning to go onstrikeon Monday, asapprovedby the LA County Superior Court, today. Members of United Teachers LA are requesting an increase in school staffing and a 6.5% salary increase for all teachers. The teachers union and the school district are set to meet once more this Friday in an effort to prevent the strike, which would mark the first teachers strike in LA in three decades. [CNN and Los Angeles Times]


Millions of College Students Facing Food Insecurity: The Government Accountability Office (GAO), recently released a reportstating that two million college students are potentially at risk for food insecurity, meaning they do not have access to nutritious, affordable food. As a part of the study, the GAO reviewed 31 studies, “that had been conducted in the U.S. since 2007 and did not have severe methodological limitation.” 22 of the 31 studies estimated that more than 30 percent of students are food insecure, causing the GAO to suggests that food insecurity is causing students to be at risk for dropping out of college. Senator Patty Murray, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Edward Markey, and Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to the GAO in 2017 requesting a report to assess food insecurity among college students. [The Atlantic]
ASU Promotes On-campus ‘Lifelong Learning’: Arizona State University recently began construction on their newest dorm complex called ASU Mirabella, whose residents will be above the age of 60. Michael Crow, President of ASU hopes to “reconceptualize lifelong learning” and help retirees gain degrees or certificates. Incoming retirees will have access to take college courses, use campus facilities, and campus officials are hoping they will integrate themselves in campus life/ activities along with mentor students. [Inside Higher Ed


Digital Badges Offer Pathway to Closing Skills Gap:In The Wall Street Journal’s “CIO Journal”, former CIO Magazine publisher and author Gary Beachexamineshow digital badges could provide a pathway to closing the skills gap. The article includes quotes from multiple corporate learning leaders discussing how digital badges could help employers identify professionals with the skills they need. [The Wall Street Journal; Subscription required]
CLOs Optimistic About 2019:According to a recent surveyconducted by the Chief Learning OfficerBusiness Intelligence Board, a majority of CLOs say their outlook for 2019 is more optimistic than last year. CLOs expect continued improvements and positive momentum in a number of core talent areas. [Chief Learning Officer]
Ivy League Colleges Partnering with Coding Bootcamps:In this week’s edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s newly renamed “The Edge” newsletter, senior writer Goldie Blumenstyk writes about how Ivy League institutions are increasingly partnering with coding bootcamps. She highlights a new initiative at Yale University, which will provide students with a ten week "Intro to Full-Stack Web Development" course during the summer that will provide credit towards a Yale degree. To receive the newsletter, sign up here. [Chronicle of Higher Education]  


NYC Program Supplies Eyeglasses for Students: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced an expansion of the city's program that offers free prescription eyeglasses to all kindergartners and first-graders who need them. The program, already in place in 224 schools, has provided 26,000 pairs of glasses for students. [Chalkbeat
Farm Bill Considered Credit Positive for HBCUs:In a report released today, Moody’s Investors Services said the farm bill included three provisions that are each “credit positive” for historically black land-grant universities. The bill, which President Donald Trump signed into law in December, eliminates a rule that allows land grant HBCUs to only carry over 20 percent of federal research funding from one year to the next. Additionally, it provides $10 million a year to establish research centers on at least three HBCU campuses and $40 million in new funding for student scholarships. [POLITICO Pro; Subscription Required] 


EdSurge Surveying Investors on EdTech Funding Trends:EdSurgeis updating its State of EdTech report and is wondering: Where's the edtech money flowing? If you’re an investor, take this surveyby Friday, January 18, to help the field better understand edtech funding trends over the past three years. For those who complete the survey, EdSurge will share a sneak peek of the report before it is made available to everyone else. 
New Data Shows Success of Montana Coaching Program: This week, RevUp Montana, a Department of Labor-funded workforce project to connect low-skill workers with jobs in growing industries, releasedthe findings of an independent evaluation of its coaching program at Great Falls College MSU and Missoula College students. Through a partnership with student coaching company InsideTrack, Great Falls College MSU and Missoula College provided one-on-one coaching to students to help them develop the skills required for success. Comparing the performance of students that received coaching to those that did not, the study found that coached students earned 15 percent more credits per semester, 24 percent more total credits over 2 years, and 12 percent higher cumulative GPAs.
Florida State University Announces Academic Planning Tool: Florida State University announceda new tool to help students streamline their academic experience and empower them to easily explore academic and degree pathways. FSU students will now have access to Civitas Learning’s Degree Map tool, which students can use to track their degree progress and ensure they select classes that keep them on track to graduate.