The Importance of High Quality General Education for Students in Special Education

The Importance of High Quality General Education for Students in Special Education. Brookings Institution. Elizabeth Setren and Nora Gordon. April 20, 2017

Last month’s Supreme Court decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District sets a higher bar for the “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) guaranteed to students with disabilities by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In the unanimous opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives. This standard is more demanding than the ‘merely more than de minimis’ test applied by the Tenth Circuit.” While the new standard may be vague, it has rejuvenated public discussion around special education policy and practice.

As policymakers and practitioners think about what changes may be required to meet the new standard, they should not overlook the role of general education. New evidence suggests that it’s possible for special education students to make large achievement gains without their traditional services in schools with high quality general education programs. This points to the importance of the quality of general education for students schools might place in special education. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Undergraduate Financial Aid in the United States

Undergraduate Financial Aid in the United States. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Judith Scott-Clayton. April 2017

To inform discussions of the future of undergraduate education in the United States, and the role of financial aid within it, this paper provides an overview of undergraduate financial aid—its motivations, its moving parts, and its controversies. Section 2 summarizes the fundamental motivations for providing financial aid. While the social value of financial aid may be taken for granted among those working within higher education, it is not always obvious to policy-makers who are trying to balance budgets in an era of fiscal constraint. Thus, a succinct review of the rationale for student aid can be helpful to have on hand. The heart of the paper, Section 3, provides an overview of undergraduate financial aid: who provides what, how, and to whom. Section 4 discusses several hot-button issues in contemporary financial aid policy, highlighting key sources of debate and incorporating research evidence where available. Section 5 concludes. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 48 pages, 1.11 MB].

Improving College and Career Outcomes of Low-Performing High School Students

Improving College and Career Outcomes of Low-Performing High School Students. Brookings Institution. Louis S. Jacobson. April 26, 2017

There is growing recognition that there are many career-enhancing pathways through four-year and community colleges. Nevertheless, many students leave high school without the skills needed to complete the most demanding academic pathways, nor realistic plans for completing alternative pathways that are far more likely to lead to desirable outcomes.

This situation can be improved by high schools helping those disengaged students who are uninterested in attending college see personally meaningful connections between high school, college, and careers, and by helping non-college-ready students who are interested in attending college recognize their deficits and develop skills for college success. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 28 pages, 508.48 KB].

Paying For College: What Is Affordable?

Paying For College: What Is Affordable? Urban Institute. Sandy Baum, Victoria Lee. April 7, 2017

Rising concerns over college prices and student debt suggest that college is unaffordable for many people. But a more meaningful question is whether particular college options are worth it for individual students. This brief, along with a new Urban Institute website, outlines the many factors that shed light on the issue of college affordability, including prices of different college paths and the resources that institutions, governments, and students from different backgrounds draw on to cover their expenses. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 6 pages, 164.06 KB].

Unlocking Skills: Successful Initiatives for Integrating Foreign-Trained Immigrant Professionals

Unlocking Skills: Successful Initiatives for Integrating Foreign-Trained Immigrant Professionals. Migration Policy Institute. Margie McHugh and Madeleine Morawski. February 2017.

With nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants and refugees in the United States unable to fully utilize their professional skills, better understanding of the elements of successful programs and policies that reduce the waste of advanced education and skills can benefit immigrants, their families, and the U.S. economy more generally.

This report explores a range of frontline programs and policy reforms that are providing cutting-edge career navigation, relicensing, gap filling, and job search assistance for foreign-trained professionals in a wide range of occupations. It also examines different state policy and licensing contexts that affect these highly skilled individuals, with a focus on the dense thicket of state laws and regulations that slow or prevent qualified individuals from practicing in a wide range of occupations. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 43 pages, 5.65 MB].

Federally Funded Academic Research Requirements: Background and Issues in Brief

Federally Funded Academic Research Requirements: Background and Issues in Brief. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Laurie A. Harris, Marcy E. Gallo. February 28, 2017

For decades, the federal government and academic research institutions have been partners in supporting American innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth. The federal government is the largest source of academic research and development (R&D) funding in the United States, providing funds through more than two dozen federal agencies, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) providing the largest portions of federal R&D funding to U.S. colleges and universities.
As part of oversight of federal funding for academic research, Congress and federal agencies have established requirements through statutes, regulations, and guidance documents that U.S. universities and other research institutions must comply with when applying for, receiving, and reporting on the results of federal research grants. Such requirements seek to ensure transparency and effectiveness of federal funds, while helping to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.

[PDF format, 16 pages, 695.76 MB].

Strengthening Local Education Systems for Newly Arrived Adults and Children: Empowering Cities through Better Use of EU Instruments

Strengthening Local Education Systems for Newly Arrived Adults and Children: Empowering Cities through Better Use of EU Instruments. Migration Policy Institute. Brian Salant and Meghan Benton. March 2017.

The huge influx of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe over the past two years has placed considerable pressure on local services and infrastructure in many cities, including in education. Cities only have competence over limited areas of education policy, leaving many unable to respond quickly to rapid population changes or make structural changes, such as to teacher recruitment and training, to adapt to the needs of diverse populations. Many cities are facing significant capacity and infrastructure challenges associated with large-scale arrivals; others are struggling to stretch budgets that were established on the basis of outdated population figures.

This MPI Europe report examines the hurdles that cities face when helping new arrivals access education and training. It also highlights innovative ways municipalities support newly arrived migrants as they enter the education system and local labor force, including two-generation and co-located services through which parents and children can access child care, health and social services, and language training in one location. Others have developed “whole-place” approaches that work across all local services to address the whole education-to-work pathway. The authors outline ways in which the European level could help mitigate multilevel governance challenges and scale what works, as well as strategies the Partnership on Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees could consider to better support cities in their immediate response to large migrant influxes. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 32 pages, 1.1 MB].