assessmentaccountability

Upper Iowa put on notice after staff members mishandled financial aid, changed grades

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Investigation found that staff members improperly handled financial aid funds and changed student grades.

Senate Blocks Teacher Prep Rules

The Senate blocked teacher-prep rules issued by the Obama administration last year through a joint resolution under the Congressional Review Act. Republicans in the House began the process to block the rules in February.

The rules were finalized after a years-long process and received backing from education reform groups. But they were opposed by Republicans as well as teachers' unions that have traditionally been aligned with the Democrats.

On Thursday, 17 higher ed organizations, including the American Council on Education and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, signed on to a letter supporting the measure.

“Overturning this regulation says that states -- not a distant department in Washington, D.C. -- are responsible for evaluating whether a college’s program gives teachers the skills they need to help their students learn,” said Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate education committee, in a statement. “The department’s regulation also would force states to evaluate teachers in a way that Congress specifically prohibited in the bill to fix No Child Left Behind that got 85 votes in the Senate. I look forward to President Trump’s signature.”

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New America releases guidelines on ethical use of data

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New America releases framework to help colleges use predictive analytics to benefit students.

House Moves to Block Teacher-Prep Rules

The House this week approved a resolution to block new teacher-prep rules finalized by the Obama administration last year.

The resolution, introduced by Kentucky Republican Brett Guthrie, would eliminate the rule through the little-used Congressional Review Act. GOP leaders have said they plan to use the CRA to roll back a number of regulations crafted by the previous administration, including the teacher-prep and borrower-defense rules.

Five Democrats joined with 235 Republican House members to approve the resolution 240-181. No GOP member voted against the resolution. The resolution will head to the Senate next.

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Researchers download federal data amid concerns over future access

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Some education researchers have begun downloading federal data amid questions about the new administration's commitment to continuing transparency efforts.

200 Colleges to Appeal Gainful Employment Ratings

More than 200 colleges have given the U.S. Department of Education notice that they will appeal gainful employment ratings that found their programs to be failing or close to failing. The colleges filed a required notice of intent to appeal within 14 days of the release of ratings for 536 individual programs, according to data posted by the Office of Federal Student Aid Monday.

Institutions appearing on the list include Vatterott College, Kaplan University and Full Sail University.

Ratings released by the department last month showed that nearly a tenth of vocational programs evaluated -- mostly at for-profit institutions -- failed to meet new criteria measuring whether graduates were able to repay their student loan debt. That puts those programs at risk of being cut off from access to Title IV federal aid.

The gainful employment rule was heavily criticized by Republicans in Congress, and GOP leaders have listed it among a number of Obama administration regulations they plan to eliminate or scale back.

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ACICS-Accredited Colleges Meet Federal Deadline

The U.S. Department of Education last month finalized its decision to terminate the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, a controversial national accrediting agency that oversaw Corinthian Colleges, ITT and other failed for-profits.

Before the end of December, all remaining ACICS institutions filed paperwork with the department to retain their federal aid eligibility for 18 months while seeking a new accreditor, the department said this week. The roughly 245 colleges collectively received $4.76 billion in federal aid during 2015.

Ted Mitchell, the U.S. under secretary of education, said in an interview that he was encouraged by the transition process so far for ACICS-accredited colleges.

“The institutions are taking their responsibilities seriously,” he said. “We’re working to make this transition as successful as possible.”

Most of the colleges have begun seeking approval from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, a national accrediting agency. Michale McComis, the commission’s executive director, said last week that 180 ACICS-accredited institutions have formally initiated the process. He expects that number to grow to 210 colleges by the end of January.

Some experts on for-profit higher education have predicted that substantial numbers of ACICS-accredited institutions will fail to find a new agency home within 18 months. One higher education lawyer said that challenge remains, and that the department had overplayed its celebration of ACICS institutions successfully completing their federal aid extension paperwork.

Mitchell, however, said the process of getting roughly 245 institutions to sign provisional Program Participation Agreements was complex and required collaboration between the feds and ACICS-approved colleges. The agreements include monitoring and reporting requirements the department said are intended to protect taxpayers and students.

In addition, Mitchell said he was confident that well-run institutions among the group “will have the time to secure accreditation.”

ACICS has sued to block the department’s decision to de-recognize the accreditor. A judge last month denied a request from ACICS for a temporary injunction.

It’s unclear if the incoming Trump administration would be able to overturn the department’s move to eliminate ACICS, or if it would seek to try.

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Wage data's value in higher education are limited by geography and selectivity, study finds

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New study dumps cold water on the value of wage data to prospective students who are place bound and headed to less-selective colleges.

Exploring CiteScore, Elsevier's new journal impact metrics

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Elsevier explains the thought process behind CiteScore, its new journal impact metrics. Critics worry about potential conflicts of interest.

Southern accreditor places 10 on probation, including Louisville and new UT campus

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Southern accreditor puts 10 colleges on probation, including Louisville for its governance problems, several for-profit art schools for financial woes and new University of Texas campus for an array of shortcomings.

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