Policy Issues


MIT Hackathon Applies Data Science to Public Policy Challenges

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently held the M.I.T. Policy Hackathon, an event that brought together data science, engineering and policy students to come up with solutions to real problems brought by the event's organizers. Participants were given access to datasets from government, education and nonprofit institutes and asked to tackle problems in fields such as transportation, the future of work, cybersecurity, energy and climate and health.

New Virginia Law Mandates Creation of OER Guidelines

A new Virginia law mandates creation of guidelines for open educational resources at colleges and universities. H.B. 454 requires the governing boards of public institutions to implement guidelines for the adoption and use of low-cost and no-cost O.E.R. in their courses offered at such institution. However, while the policies and procedures are required, no instructor would be forced to use O.E.R. The guidelines can also address the use of "low-cost commercially published materials."

Virginia Law Wants Credit Transfer Sorted Out

A new Virginia law is intended to improve the credit students get for taking college classes while in high school and to make sure those credits stick when they enter four-year institutions.

New Ed Challenge to Seek 'Weirdness' and Innovation in Higher Ed

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology has announced it will launch a new "Higher Education Ecosystem Challenge" that seeks "multi-sector teams to propose design concepts for a truly student-centered ecosystem." Those ideas with the most potential for improving the outcomes of students "that need postsecondary education the most" will be launched with the help of "a variety of partners."

Amazon Releases New Guidance on AWS and FERPA

More than two years after issuing guidance on FERPA compliance and Amazon Web Services, Amazon has updated the whitepaper to lay out the company's "shared responsibility model" and give specific guidance on 24 different AWS services.

Online Initiative Not the Answer to STEM Gaps in California

A proposed budget by California's governor would allocate $10 million to set up a new online "intersegmental" higher education initiative. The project would fund competitive grants for intersegmental teams of faculty to create new and redesign existing STEM courses — both online and hybrid — in a program titled the "California Education Learning Lab." While the Legislative Analyst's Office found Governor Brown's goal of improving student outcomes "laudable," this approach isn't the answer, the office wrote in an analysis of the proposal. First, the analysis noted, the proposal doesn't address "the root causes of STEM disparities among student groups"; and second, it overlaps with other online initiatives already underway.

Report: Feds and States Need to Improve Data Efforts

Invest a penny of every federal dollar in evaluation. Appoint a chief evaluation officer. Fund programs based on post-graduation goals and publish employment outcomes by major. Create accurate graduation rates. Those are some of the recommendations proposed in two new reports from Results for America, a bipartisan nonprofit with a mission of persuading decision-makers in government to use data and evidence to address the biggest challenges. The reports urge government at all levels to improve measures of student success, to build and use evidence of what works and help colleges act on that information, and to put resources behind student success.

Memo Urges Gates Foundation to Avoid Past Blunders in Future Ed Investment

If the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can avoid the same mistakes it has made in the past, its latest K–12 reform efforts will be more successful than many of its past education projects, according to a policy memo just published by the National Education Policy Center.

House Committee Pushes Higher Ed Act Reforms Against Opposition from Ed Coalition

Today, in a marathon session, a Congressional committee is debating the latest update to the Higher Education Act, initially authorized in 1965 and amended in 2008 during the Obama administration. The most recent set of proposed changes has sparked the ire of more than three dozen higher education organizations, which have accused House Republicans of rushing the bill through committee.

California Schools Tackle Achievement Gaps of Largest Demographic in State: Latino Students

While educational outcomes for Latino students have improved in recent decades, according to a new report from the Education Trust - West, there's still plenty of room for progress.

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