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Common Ed. Data Standards v2 Comments Due Aug. 15

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) posted for comment the initial draft of Version 2 of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS). As previously discussed, CEDS is a collaborative effort across the federal, state, higher education, and K-12 sectors to establish a shared set of definitions and formats for basic data elements such as student demographics and course level information. While Version 1 focused on K-12, the version released today emphasizes data elements that cross over from K-12 into higher education. Thus, NCES and participating organizations such as the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) are actively seeking input from EDUCAUSE member institutions and others to incorporate in a refined draft of CEDS Version 2 to be released for public comment later this year.

Draft Recommendations, Postsecondary Accessible Instructional Materials Commission

The federal Postsecondary Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Commission met earlier this week to discuss the commission’s first full draft of its potential recommendations to Congress for improving access to postsecondary instructional materials for students with disabilities. While the document is still clearly a working draft, it brings together for the first time all of the recommendations of the commission’s task forces as edited based on the input of the full commission to this point.

State Authorization Regulations Overturned

As reported by a number of outlets (see today’s Inside Higher Education article for example), a federal district court overturned the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) recently imposed state authorization regulations in relation to online/distance learning programs.

U.S. Senate bill introduced on state authorization repeal

In a previous post, I noted the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal recently implemented U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulations establishing a federal definition of the credit hour and extending state authorization requirements for federal financial aid programs to directly cover online learning programs. At the time, action on the legislation by the U.S. Senate was unclear, but a companion bill—S. 1297—has now been introduced in the Senate which essentially mirrors the original House legislation, H.R. 2117.

Helpful Analysis of State Authorization Issue

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a thoughtful article on the state authorization issue just before the 4th of July weekend; in case you missed it, the article is available at http://chronicle.com/article/As-Costs-of-New-Rule-Are-Felt/128124/. However, I think the comments on the article and related community discussion posted by Michael Goldstein of the law firm Dow Lohnes (scroll down to the comments section at the end of the article and look for "dowlohnes") are in some ways more helpful than the article itself--and not just because he also used a metaphor on speeding to make his point (see mine here).

A Response to "State Authorization Will Not Cause the Sky to Fall"

A guest post yesterday to the New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog took non-profit colleges and universities severely to task for opposing the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) new state authorization regulations, which took effect today with the understanding that active enforcement would be stayed pending good-faith efforts at compliance over the next three years. The following is my response, which I believe fairly describes how ED and those supporting the new regulations can be right on the narrow point, but terribly wrong from an overall policy standpoint:

At the State Authorization "Deadline": What Should Institutions Do?

In a post yesterday, I noted that progress has been made on federal legislation to repeal regulations set to take effect this Friday on state authorization requirements for online/distance learning programs, but if and when Congress might pass such legislation is far from certain. Given that, the July 1st deadline for the regulations to take effect, along with a slew of other “program integrity” regulations related to federal financial aid programs, still holds.

As July 1 Approaches, House Bill to Block State Authorization, Credit Hour Definition Passes Committee

With the July 1 deadline for U.S. Department of Education (ED) implementation of new Higher Education Act Title IV (student financial assistance) regulations on program integrity looming, the American Council on Education reports that a bill to rescind new rules on a federal definition of the credit hour and state authorization of online/distance learning courses and programs has passed the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee. As ACE notes, the timeline for action on the bill by the full House is not yet known, and the prospects for action by the U.S. Senate on this or similar legislation are unclear at this time.

Federal Agency Accessibility Information and Resources

Last week, the federal government's Interagency Committee on Disability Research (www.icdr.us) held the ICDR Assistive Technology/Technology Forum. The meeting provided an opportunity for representatives of various federal agencies to share information and compare practices on ensuring accessibility in their workplaces for employees with disabilities. Chief among the participating organizations was the U.S. Department of Defense Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (http://cap.mil). While the program originated in the DOD, it has had the congressionally-mandated role of providing support for other federal agencies since 2000. CAP provides "assistive technology and accommodations to ensure people with disabilities and wounded service members have equal access to the information environment and opportunities in the Department of Defense and throughout the federal government."

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