NAEP Scores Hold Steady, Show Growing Achievement Gap: Results from the National Assessment for Education Progress show there is a widening gap between high and low achieving students in terms of math and science scores. The exam, which has been given to fourth and eighth grade students since the 1990s, showed that U.S. students have made little to no gains in math and reading since 2015. The growing achievement gap is particularly stark when comparing scores from Black and Hispanic students to their White counterparts.
DeVos Considering Changes to School Discipline Guidance: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is considering making changes to Obama-era school discipline policies that were outlined in a‘Dear Colleague’ letter from 2014. The letter prohibits school districts from implementing discipline policies on the basis of race, color, and other factors. In a blog post, DeVos writes that these discipline guidelines actually made schools more unsafe, citing that schools could not properly discipline disruptive students and that in some instances the rules were circumvented by sending suspended students home informally in lieu of suspension. The Department has not yet announced its next steps regarding whether it will change or repeal the guidance.
Seventeen Civil Rights Groups Urge Congress to Act on ESSA Plan Approvals: In a letter to the House and Senate Education Committees, multiple civil rights groups have called on legislative leaders to urge U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to stop approving ESSA plants that do not comply with provisions of the law’s requirements. The groups claim that some approved plans will leave vulnerable and low performing students, such as those who are English-language learners and historically disadvantaged, unaccounted for. DeVos asserts that she has only been approving law-compliant ESSA plans, and that the civil rights organizations have not provided her with specifics on how these approved plans do not meet necessary provisions.
Senate Democrats Ask IRS for Heightened Scrutiny of For-Profit College Conversions: In a letter to the IRS, Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Warren (D - MA), have called on the Internal Revenue Service to inquire into applications coming in from for-profit colleges that wish to become non-profit entities. In the Obama-era, there had been a crackdown on these for-profit transitions, as the U.S. Department of Education believed that the schools were simply trying to evade complying with federal regulations. The letter comes at a time when there has been an increase of applications from for-profit colleges to transition, as U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has taken a friendlier stance on these educational institutions.