Legislative Update

Student Data Privacy

On Thursday, February 12, the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education will hold a hearing titled “How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy.” The hearing will feature a conversation about student data privacy and the Subcommittee will likely discuss the need for legislation, as well as the President’s student data privacy legislative proposal that he announced before the State of the Union address. In conjunction with the hearing, Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Luke Messer (R-IN) are planning to introduce a bipartisan student data privacy bill, which is expected to use the voluntary Pledge to Protect Student Privacy as a baseline. Reps. Polis and Messer plan to consult with parents, teachers, federal agencies, industry representatives and other stakeholders before they introduce the bill later this month.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization (ESEA)

The ESEA reauthorization process continues to progress quickly in Congress. Both chambers are now moving towards markups for their proposed legislation.

  • House:  The House Education and the Workforce Committee has scheduled a markup for the Student Success Act—its proposal to rewrite No Child Left Behind—for Wednesday, February 11. The bill closely follows the Student Success Act that passed the House in 2013 and also shows similarities to the Senate HELP Committee’s current draft bill. This fast-track approach has drawn criticism from House Democrats, who sought the opportunity to discuss the proposed bill in committee hearings. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also has voiced his disapproval of the proposed House bill.
  • Senate:  On Friday, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that they plan to move forward in a bipartisan effort to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. Their staffs met last Friday to develop a bill together for mark-up. Chairman Alexander still plans to keep a tight schedule and intends to schedule a markup of the legislation for the end of February.

Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization  

The Senate HELP Committee will hold its first HEA reauthorization hearing on the deregulation of higher education on Tuesday, February 24. We expect the House to produce an HEA Reauthorization bill the first week of March, while the Senate develops and moves its own measure before the two chambers try to reach a compromise. 

Executive Branch Update

College Ratings System

Comments on the Department of Education’s framework for a college ratings system are due on Tuesday, February 17. The Department released the framework in December and expects to publish the college ratings system before the 2015-16 school year. Many stakeholders in the education community have expressed their concerns about how the Department will complete its work on the college ratings system by the beginning of the next school year and also question how the Department will implement the college ratings system to fairly reflect the performance of colleges and universities, given the diversity of institutions and their missions. Comments should be sent to collegefeedback@ed.gov.