An 11-year effort to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) finally came to fruition on July 22 when President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The bill provides for continued community college representation on local workforce development boards, improved performance accountability metrics, and an increased focus on the transition to postsecondary education for adult basic education students.
The overall goal of the legislation is to ensure effective worker education and workforce development opportunities. The American Association of Community Colleges, however, raised concerns in May that there is no authorization for a dedicated community college program, such as the Community-Based Job Training Grants, and that representation of community colleges on state workforce development boards in most states is optional, not mandatory.
House Approves Two Bills in Move Toward HEA Reauthorization
On July 23, the House of Representatives approved two bipartisan legislative proposals intended to "spur innovation and strengthen transparency in higher education." The bills represent first steps toward reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in the House.
Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO) co-sponsored the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act (H.R. 3136) that seeks to promote innovation in higher education by directing the secretary of education to implement competency-based education demonstration projects.
Authored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and co-sponsored by Reps. Luke Messer (R-IN) and John Kline (R-MN), the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4983) would require the secretary of education to create a consumer-tested College Dashboard, in an effort to streamline and eliminate unnecessary information.
"I am pleased the House has advanced bipartisan reforms to strengthen our nation's higher education system," said House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). "Over the last several weeks, we've worked to find areas of common ground that would help more Americans realize the dream of a postsecondary education."
The Senate has not considered any corresponding legislation, but the bills are likely to be considered in future discussions about the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.