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Title of Law:Higher Education Opportunity Act
Law #:Public Law 110-315
Passed by Congress:110th Congress (2nd Session)

The following are excerpts, highlighted in red, from the final legislation and/or conference report which contain references to and studies for The National Academies. (Pound signs [##] between passages denote the deletion of unrelated text.)

HR4137 Miller, Geroge (D-Calif.) 7/31/08
Enrolled (finally passed both houses)

To amend and extend the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes.
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SEC. 494C. ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.

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“(1) RECOMMENDATIONS.—The Advisory Committee shall make recommendations to the Secretary and the authorizing committees for consideration of future legislative action regarding redundant or outdated regulations consistent with the Secretary’s requirements under section 498B.

“(2) REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF REGULATIONS.—

“(A) REVIEW OF CURRENT REGULATIONS.—To meet the requirements of subsection (d)(10), the Advisory Committee shall conduct a review and analysis of the regulations issued by Federal agencies that are in effect at the time of the review and that apply to the operations or activities of institutions of higher education from all sectors. The review and analysis may include a determination of whether the regulation is duplicative, is no longer necessary, is inconsistent with other Federal requirements, or is overly burdensome. In conducting the review, the Advisory Committee shall pay specific attention to evaluating ways in which regulations under this title affecting institutions of higher education (other than institutions described in section 102(a)(1)(C)), that have received in each of the two most recent award years prior to the date of enactment of Higher Education Opportunity Act less than $200,000 in funds through this title, may be improved, streamlined, or eliminated.

“(B) REVIEW AND COLLECTION OF FUTURE REGULATIONS.—The Advisory Committee shall—

“(i) monitor all Federal regulations, including notices of proposed rulemaking, for their impact or potential impact on higher education; and
“(ii) provide a succinct description of each regulation or proposed regulation that is generally relevant to institutions of higher education from all sectors.

“(C) MAINTENANCE OF PUBLIC WEBSITE.—The Advisory Committee shall develop and maintain an easy to use, searchable, and regularly updated website that—

“(i) provides information collected in subparagraph (B);
“(ii) provides an area for the experts and members of the public to provide recommendations for ways in which the regulations may be streamlined; and

“(iii) publishes the study conducted by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences under section 1106 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

“(3) CONSULTATION.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—In carrying out the review, analysis, and development of the website required under paragraph (2), the Advisory Committee shall consult with the Secretary, other Federal agencies, relevant representatives of institutions of higher education, individuals who have expertise and experience with Federal regulations, and the review panels described in subparagraph (B).

“(B) REVIEW PANELS.—The Advisory Committee shall convene not less than two review panels of representatives of the groups involved in higher education, including individuals involved in student financial assistance programs under this title, who have experience and expertise in the regulations issued by the Federal Government that affect all sectors of higher education, in order to review the regulations and to provide recommendations to the Advisory Committee with respect to the review and analysis under paragraph (2). The panels shall be made up of experts in areas such as the operations of the financial assistance programs, the institutional eligibility requirements for the financial assistance programs, regulations not directly related to the operations or the institutional eligibility requirements of the financial assistance programs, and regulations for dissemination of information to students about the financial assistance programs.

“(4) PERIODIC UPDATES TO THE AUTHORIZING COMMITTEES.—The Advisory Committee shall—

“(A) submit, not later than two years after the completion of the negotiated rulemaking process required under section 492 resulting from the amendments to this Act made by the Higher Education Opportunity Act, a report to the authorizing committees and the Secretary detailing the review panels’ findings and recommendations with respect to the review of regulations; and

“(B) provide periodic updates to the authorizing committees regarding—

“(i) the impact of all Federal regulations on all sectors of higher education; and

“(ii) suggestions provided through the website for streamlining or eliminating duplicative regulations.

“(5) ADDITIONAL SUPPORT.—The Secretary and the Inspector General of the Department shall provide such assistance and resources to the Advisory Committee as the Secretary and Inspector General determine are necessary to conduct the review and analysis required by this subsection.

“(m) Study of Innovative Pathways to Baccalaureate Degree Attainment.—

“(1) STUDY REQUIRED.—The Advisory Committee shall conduct a study of the feasibility of increasing baccalaureate degree attainment rates by reducing the costs and financial barriers to attaining a baccalaureate degree through innovative programs.

“(2) SCOPE OF STUDY.—The Advisory Committee shall examine new and existing programs that promote baccalaureate degree attainment through innovative ways, such as dual or concurrent enrollment programs, changes made to the Federal Pell Grant program, simplification of the needs analysis process, compressed or modular scheduling, articulation agreements, and programs that allow two-year institutions of higher education to offer baccalaureate degrees.

“(3) REQUIRED ASPECTS OF THE STUDY.—In performing the study described in this subsection, the Advisory Committee shall examine the following aspects of such innovative programs:

“(A) The impact of such programs on baccalaureate attainment rates.
“(B) The degree to which a student’s total cost of attaining a baccalaureate degree can be reduced by such programs.
“(C) The ways in which low- and moderate-income students can be specifically targeted by such programs.
“(D) The ways in which nontraditional students can be specifically targeted by such programs.
“(E) The cost-effectiveness for the Federal Government, States, and institutions of higher education to implement such programs.

“(4) CONSULTATION.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—In performing the study described in this subsection, the Advisory Committee shall consult with a broad range of interested parties in higher education, including parents, students, appropriate representatives of secondary schools and institutions of higher education, appropriate State administrators, administrators of dual or concurrent enrollment programs, and appropriate Department officials.

“(B) CONSULTATION WITH THE AUTHORIZING COMMITTEES.—The Advisory Committee shall consult on a regular basis with the authorizing committees in carrying out the study required by this subsection.

“(5) REPORTS TO AUTHORIZING COMMITTEES.—

“(A) INTERIM REPORT.—The Advisory Committee shall prepare and submit to the authorizing committees and the Secretary an interim report, not later than one year after the date of enactment of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, describing the progress made in conducting the study required by this subsection and any preliminary findings on the topics identified under paragraph (2).

“(B) FINAL REPORT.—The Advisory Committee shall, not later than three years after the date of enactment of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, prepare and submit to the authorizing committees and the Secretary a final report on the study, including recommendations for legislative, regulatory, and administrative changes based on findings related to the topics identified under paragraph (2).”.

(b) Conforming Amendments.—Subsections (a)(1), (b), and (d)(6) of section 491 (20 U.S.C. 1098) are each amended by striking “Congress” and inserting “authorizing committees”.

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SEC. 703. GRADUATE ASSISTANCE IN AREAS OF NATIONAL NEED.

(a) Institutional Eligibility.—Section 712 (20 U.S.C. 1135a) is amended by striking subsection (b) and inserting the following:

“(b) Designation of Areas of National Need.—After consultation with appropriate Federal and nonprofit agencies and organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Secretary shall designate areas of national need. In making such designations, the Secretary shall take into consideration—

“(1) the extent to which the interest in the area is compelling;

“(2) the extent to which other Federal programs support postbaccalaureate study in the area concerned;

“(3) an assessment of how the program may achieve the most significant impact with available resources; and

“(4) an assessment of current (as of the time of the designation) and future professional workforce needs of the United States.”.

(b) Awards to Graduate Students.—Section 714(b) (20 U.S.C. 1135c(b)) is amended—

(1) by striking “1999-2000” and inserting “2009-2010”; and

(2) by striking “Foundation graduate fellowships” and inserting “Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program for such academic year”.

(c) Additional Assistance.—Section 715(a)(1) (20 U.S.C. 1135d(a)(1)) is amended—

(1) by striking “1999-2000” and inserting “2009-2010”; and

(2) by striking “1998-1999” and inserting “2008-2009”.

(d) Authorization of Appropriations.—Section 716 (20 U.S.C. 1135e) is amended by striking “fiscal year 1999” and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting “fiscal year 2009 and each of the five succeeding fiscal years to carry out this subpart.”.

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SEC. 707. FUND FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION.

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(f) Areas of National Need.—Section 744(c) (20 U.S.C. 1138c(c)) is amended to read as follows:

“(c) Areas of National Need.—Areas of national need shall include, at a minimum, the following:

“(1) Institutional restructuring to improve learning and promote productivity, efficiency, quality improvement, and cost reduction.

“(2) Improvements in academic instruction and student learning, including efforts designed to assess the learning gains made by postsecondary students.

“(3) Articulation between two- and four-year institutions of higher education, including developing innovative methods for ensuring the successful transfer of students from two- to four-year institutions of higher education.

“(4) Development, evaluation, and dissemination of model courses, including model courses that—

“(A) provide students with a broad and integrated knowledge base;

“(B) include, at a minimum, broad survey courses in English literature, American and world history, American political institutions, economics, philosophy, college-level mathematics, and the natural sciences; and

“(C) include study of a foreign language that leads to reading and writing competency in the foreign language.

“(5) International cooperation and student exchanges among postsecondary educational institutions.

“(6) Support of centers to incorporate education in quality and safety into the preparation of medical and nursing students, through grants to medical schools, nursing schools, and osteopathic schools. Such grants shall be used to assist in providing courses of instruction that specifically equip students to—

“(A) understand the causes of, and remedies for, medical error, medically induced patient injuries and complications, and other defects in medical care;

“(B) engage effectively in personal and systemic efforts to continually reduce medical harm; and

“(C) improve patient care and outcomes, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine.”.

(g) Authorization of Appropriations for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.—Section 745 (20 U.S.C. 1138d) is amended by striking “$30,000,000 for fiscal year 1999” and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting “such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2009 and each of the five succeeding fiscal years.”.

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SEC. 1106. ANALYSIS OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS ON INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION.

The Secretary of Education shall enter into an agreement with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences for the conduct of a study to ascertain the amount and scope of all Federal regulations and reporting requirements with which institutions of higher education must comply. The study shall be completed not later than two years after the date of enactment of this Act, and shall include information describing—

(1) by agency, the number of Federal regulations and reporting requirements affecting institutions of higher education;

(2) by agency, the estimated time required and costs to institutions of higher education (disaggregated by types of institutions) to comply with the regulations and reporting requirements described in paragraph (1); and

(3) by agency, recommendations for consolidating, streamlining, and eliminating redundant and burdensome Federal regulations and reporting requirements affecting institutions of higher education.

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SEC. 1107. INDEPENDENT EVALUATION OF DISTANCE EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

(a) Independent Evaluation.—The Secretary of Education shall enter into an agreement with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a statistically valid evaluation of the quality of distance education programs, as compared to campus-based education programs, at institutions of higher education. Such evaluation shall include—

(1) identification of the elements by which the quality of distance education can be assessed, which may include elements such as subject matter, interactivity, and student outcomes;

(2) identification of distance education program success, with respect to student achievement, in relation to the mission of the institution of higher education;

(3) identification of the benefits and limitations of distance education programs and campus-based programs for different students (including classification of types of students by age category) by assessing access, job placement rates, graduation rates, and other factors related to persistence, completion, and cost; and

(4) identification and analysis of factors that may make direct comparisons of distance education programs and campus-based education programs difficult.

(b) Scope.—The National Research Council shall select for participation in the evaluation under subsection (a) a diverse group of institutions of higher education with respect to size, mission, and geographic distribution.

(c) Interim and Final Reports.—The contract under subsection (a) shall require that the National Research Council submit to the authorizing committees—

(1) an interim report regarding the evaluation under subsection (a) not later than June 30, 2009; and

(2) a final report regarding such evaluation not later than June 30, 2010.

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SEC. 1108. REVIEW OF COSTS AND BENEFITS OF ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH, AND SAFETY STANDARDS.

(a) Review of Standards.—The Secretary of Education shall enter into an agreement with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a national study that—

(1) reviews, analyzes, and compares existing standards in environmental, health, and safety areas, for the regulation of—

(A) industrial research and development facilities; and

(B) research and teaching laboratories and facilities at institutions of higher education; and

(2) based upon the review in paragraph (1), develops recommended frameworks for alternative regulatory standards, if any, for research and teaching laboratories and facilities at institutions of higher education that—

(A) maintain the overall level of protection of the environment, and of the health and safety of those using such laboratories and facilities;

(B) reflect the need to ensure consistent application of Federal laws; and

(C) take into account the educational and research activities of institutions of higher education.

(b) Report.—The National Research Council shall report to Congress regarding the recommended frameworks for alternative regulatory standards developed under subsection (a). Such report shall contain recommendations for statutory or regulatory changes needed to implement the different standards described in subsection (a), and the projected costs and benefits resulting from the adoption of such standards.

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SEC. 1110. STUDY ON BIAS IN STANDARDIZED TESTS.

(a) Study.—The Secretary of Education shall enter into an agreement with the Board on Testing and Assessment of the National Academy of Sciences for the conduct of a study to identify any race, ethnicity, or gender bias in the content and construction of standardized tests that are used for admission to institutions of higher education.

(b) Report.—Not later than two years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Education shall issue an interim report to the authorizing committees related to the progress of the study under subsection (a).

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SEC. 1116. STUDY ON TEACHING STUDENTS WITH READING DISABILITIES.

(a) Independent Evaluation.—The Secretary of Education shall enter into an agreement with the Center for Education of the National Academies for a scientifically-based study of the quality of teacher education programs—

(1) to determine if teachers are adequately prepared to meet the needs of students with reading and language processing disabilities, including dyslexia; and

(2) to determine the extent to which teacher education programs are based on the essential components of reading instruction and scientifically valid research.

(b) Components.—The study conducted under subsection (a) shall be designed to provide statistically reliable information on—

(1) the number, type of courses, and credit hours required to meet the requirements of reading degree programs of teacher education programs; and

(2) the extent to which the content of the reading degree programs are based on—

(A) the essential components of reading instruction and scientifically valid research, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension; and

(B) early intervention strategies based on scientific evidence concerning challenges to the development of language processing capacity, including dyslexia, and the extent to which such strategies are effective in preventing reading failure before it occurs.

(c) Scope.—The Director of the Center for Education of the National Academy of Sciences shall select for participation in the study under subsection (a) a diverse group of institutions of higher education with respect to size, mission, and geographic distribution.

(d) Interim and Final Reports.—The Director of the Center for Education of the National Academy of Sciences shall submit to the authorizing committees and the Secretary of Education—

(1) an interim report regarding the study under subsection (a) not later than one year after the date the Center for Education of the National Academies enters into an agreement with the Secretary of Education under this section; and

(2) a final report summarizing the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of such study not later than two years after the date the Center for Education of the National Academies enters into such agreement.

(e) Task Force.—

(1) ESTABLISHMENT.—Upon submission of the final report under subsection (d)(2), the Secretary of Education shall establish a task force to make policy recommendations to the Secretary regarding the findings of the report.

(2) MEMBERSHIP.—The membership of the task force established under paragraph (1) shall include chief State school officers, State reading consultants, master teachers, national reading experts, and researchers with expertise in relevant fields.

(3) PUBLIC HEARINGS.—The task force established under paragraph (1) shall hold public hearings to provide an opportunity for public comment on the recommendations made under paragraph (1).

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SEC. 1121. NURSING SCHOOL CAPACITY.

(a) Findings.—Congress finds the following:

(1) Researchers in the field of public health have identified the need for a national study to identify constraints encountered by schools of nursing in graduating the number of nurses sufficient to meet the health care needs of the United States.

(2) The shortage of qualified registered nurses has adversely affected the health care system of the United States.

(3) Individual States have had varying degrees of success with programs designed to increase the recruitment and retention of nurses.

(4) Schools of nursing have been unable to provide a sufficient number of qualified graduates to meet the workforce needs.

(5) Many nurses are approaching the age of retirement, and the problem worsens each year.

(6) In 2004, an estimated 125,000 applications from qualified applicants were rejected by schools of nursing, due to a shortage of faculty and a lack of capacity for additional students.

(b) Study With Respect to Constraints With Respect to Schools of Nursing.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall enter into an agreement with the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study for the purpose of—

(A) identifying constraints encountered by schools of nursing in admitting and graduating the number of registered nurses necessary to ensure patient safety and meet the need for quality assurance in the provision of health care; and

(B) developing recommendations to alleviate the constraints on a short-term and long-term basis.

(2) CERTAIN COMPONENTS.—The Secretary shall ensure that the agreement under paragraph (1) provides that the study under such paragraph will include information on the following:

(A) The trends in applications for attendance at schools of nursing that are relevant to the purpose of the study, including trends regarding applicants who are accepted for enrollment and applicants who are not accepted, particularly qualified applicants who are not accepted.

(B) The number and demographic characteristics of entry-level and graduate students currently enrolled in schools of nursing, the retention rates at the schools, and the number of recent graduates from the schools, as compared to previous years and to the projected need for registered nurses based on two-year, five-year, and ten-year projections.

(C) The number and demographic characteristics of nurses who pursue graduate education in nursing and non-nursing programs but do not pursue faculty positions in schools of nursing, the reasons for not pursuing faculty positions, including any regulatory barriers to choosing to pursue such positions, and the effect of such decisions on the ability of the schools to obtain adequate numbers of faculty members.

(D) The extent to which—

(i) entry-level graduates of the schools of nursing are satisfied with their educational preparation, including their participation in nurse externships, internships, and residency programs; and

(ii) such entry-level graduates are able to effectively transition into the nursing workforce.

(E) The satisfaction of nurse managers and administrators with respect to the preparation and performance levels of entry-level graduates from the schools after one year, three years, and five years of practice, respectively.

(F) The extent to which the current salary, benefit structures, and characteristics of the workplace, including the number of nurses who are presently serving in faculty positions, influence the career path of nurses who have pursued graduate education.

(G) The extent to which the use of innovative technologies for didactic and clinical nursing education might provide for an increase in the ability of schools of nursing to train qualified nurses.

(3) RECOMMENDATIONS.—The Institute of Medicine may include in the recommendations developed under paragraph (1)(B) recommendations for legislative or administrative changes at the Federal or State level, and measures that can be taken in the private sector—

(A) to facilitate the recruitment of students into the nursing profession;

(B) to facilitate the retention of nurses in the workplace; and

(C) to improve the resources and ability of the education and health care systems to prepare a sufficient number of qualified registered nurses.

(4) METHODOLOGY OF STUDY.—

(A) SCOPE.—The Secretary shall ensure that the agreement under paragraph (1) provides that the study under such paragraph will consider the perspectives of—

(i) nurses and physicians in each of the various types of inpatient, outpatient, and residential facilities in the health care delivery system;
(ii) faculty and administrators of schools of nursing;
(iii) providers of health plans or health insurance; and
(iv) consumers.

(B) CONSULTATION WITH RELEVANT ORGANIZATION.—The Secretary shall ensure that the agreement under paragraph (1) provides that relevant agencies and organizations with expertise on the nursing shortage will be consulted with respect to the study under such paragraph, including the following:

(i) The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
(ii) The American Academy of Nursing.
(iii) The American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
(iv) The American Nurses Association.
(v) The American Organization of Nurse Executives.
(vi) The National Institute of Nursing Research.
(vii) The National League for Nursing.
(viii) The National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing.
(ix) The National Student Nurses Association.

(5) REPORT.—The Secretary shall ensure that the agreement under paragraph (1) provides that, not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this section, the Institute of Medicine shall submit a report providing the findings and recommendations made in the study under this section to the Secretary and the authorizing committees.

(6) OTHER ORGANIZATION.—If the Institute of Medicine declines to conduct the study under paragraph (1), the Secretary may enter into an agreement with another appropriate private entity to conduct the study.

(c) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) TERMS IN PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT.—The terms “collegiate school of nursing”, “associate degree school of nursing”, and “diploma school of nursing” have the meanings given to such terms in section 801 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 296).

(2) SCHOOL OF NURSING.—The term “school of nursing” means a collegiate school of nursing, an associate degree school of nursing, or a diploma school of nursing in a State.

(3) SECRETARY.—The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Education.

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HRpt 110-803 - To accompany H.R. 4137 - To amend and extend the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes.
Conference Committee
(07/30/08)
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TITLE IV—STUDENT ASSISTANCE

PART A—GRANTS TO STUDENTS IN ATTENDANCE AT INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

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SEC. 494C. ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.

######

“(1) RECOMMENDATIONS.—The Advisory Committee shall make recommendations to the Secretary and the authorizing committees for consideration of future legislative action regarding redundant or outdated regulations consistent with the Secretary’s requirements under section 498B.

“(2) REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF REGULATIONS.—

“(A) REVIEW OF CURRENT REGULATIONS.—To meet the requirements of subsection (d)(10), the Advisory Committee shall conduct a review and analysis of the regulations issued by Federal agencies that are in effect at the time of the review and that apply to the operations or activities of institutions of higher education from all sectors. The review and analysis may include a determination of whether the regulation is duplicative, is no longer necessary, is inconsistent with other Federal requirements, or is overly burdensome. In conducting the review, the Advisory Committee shall pay specific attention to evaluating ways in which regulations under this title affecting institutions of higher education (other than institutions described in section 102(a)(1)(C)), that have received in each of the two most recent award years prior to the date of enactment of Higher Education Opportunity Act less than $200,000 in funds through this title, may be improved, streamlined, or eliminated.

“(B) REVIEW AND COLLECTION OF FUTURE REGULATIONS.—The Advisory Committee shall—

“(i) monitor all Federal regulations, including notices of proposed rulemaking, for their impact or potential impact on higher education; and
“(ii) provide a succinct description of each regulation or proposed regulation that is generally relevant to institutions of higher education from all sectors.

“(C) MAINTENANCE OF PUBLIC WEBSITE.—The Advisory Committee shall develop and maintain an easy to use, searchable, and regularly updated website that—

“(i) provides information collected in subparagraph (B);
“(ii) provides an area for the experts and members of the public to provide recommendations for ways in which the regulations may be streamlined; and

“(iii) publishes the study conducted by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences under section 1106 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

“(3) CONSULTATION.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—In carrying out the review, analysis, and development of the website required under paragraph (2), the Advisory Committee shall consult with the Secretary, other Federal agencies, relevant representatives of institutions of higher education, individuals who have expertise and experience with Federal regulations, and the review panels described in subparagraph (B).

“(B) REVIEW PANELS.—The Advisory Committee shall convene not less than two review panels of representatives of the groups involved in higher education, including individuals involved in student financial assistance programs under this title, who have experience and expertise in the regulations issued by the Federal Government that affect all sectors of higher education, in order to review the regulations and to provide recommendations to the Advisory Committee with respect to the review and analysis under paragraph (2). The panels shall be made up of experts in areas such as the operations of the financial assistance programs, the institutional eligibility requirements for the financial assistance programs, regulations not directly related to the operations or the institutional eligibility requirements of the financial assistance programs, and regulations for dissemination of information to students about the financial assistance programs.

“(4) PERIODIC UPDATES TO THE AUTHORIZING COMMITTEES.—The Advisory Committee shall—

“(A) submit, not later than two years after the completion of the negotiated rulemaking process required under section 492 resulting from the amendments to this Act made by the Higher Education Opportunity Act, a report to the authorizing committees and the Secretary detailing the review panels’ findings and recommendations with respect to the review of regulations; and

“(B) provide periodic updates to the authorizing committees regarding—

“(i) the impact of all Federal regulations on all sectors of higher education; and

“(ii) suggestions provided through the website for streamlining or eliminating duplicative regulations.

“(5) ADDITIONAL SUPPORT.—The Secretary and the Inspector General of the Department shall provide such assistance and resources to the Advisory Committee as the Secretary and Inspector General determine are necessary to conduct the review and analysis required by this subsection.

“(m) Study of Innovative Pathways to Baccalaureate Degree Attainment.—

“(1) STUDY REQUIRED.—The Advisory Committee shall conduct a study of the feasibility of increasing baccalaureate degree attainment rates by reducing the costs and financial barriers to attaining a baccalaureate degree through innovative programs.

“(2) SCOPE OF STUDY.—The Advisory Committee shall examine new and existing programs that promote baccalaureate degree attainment through innovative ways, such as dual or concurrent enrollment programs, changes made to the Federal Pell Grant program, simplification of the needs analysis process, compressed or modular scheduling, articulation agreements, and programs that allow two-year institutions of higher education to offer baccalaureate degrees.

“(3) REQUIRED ASPECTS OF THE STUDY.—In performing the study described in this subsection, the Advisory Committee shall examine the following aspects of such innovative programs:

“(A) The impact of such programs on baccalaureate attainment rates.
“(B) The degree to which a student’s total cost of attaining a baccalaureate degree can be reduced by such programs.
“(C) The ways in which low- and moderate-income students can be specifically targeted by such programs.
“(D) The ways in which nontraditional students can be specifically targeted by such programs.
“(E) The cost-effectiveness for the Federal Government, States, and institutions of higher education to implement such programs.

“(4) CONSULTATION.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—In performing the study described in this subsection, the Advisory Committee shall consult with a broad range of interested parties in higher education, including parents, students, appropriate representatives of secondary schools and institutions of higher education, appropriate State administrators, administrators of dual or concurrent enrollment programs, and appropriate Department officials.

“(B) CONSULTATION WITH THE AUTHORIZING COMMITTEES.—The Advisory Committee shall consult on a regular basis with the authorizing committees in carrying out the study required by this subsection.

“(5) REPORTS TO AUTHORIZING COMMITTEES.—

“(A) INTERIM REPORT.—The Advisory Committee shall prepare and submit to the authorizing committees and the Secretary an interim report, not later than one year after the date of enactment of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, describing the progress made in conducting the study required by this subsection and any preliminary findings on the topics identified under paragraph (2).

“(B) FINAL REPORT.—The Advisory Committee shall, not later than three years after the date of enactment of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, prepare and submit to the authorizing committees and the Secretary a final report on the study, including recommendations for legislative, regulatory, and administrative changes based on findings related to the topics identified under paragraph (2).”.

(b) Conforming Amendments.—Subsections (a)(1), (b), and (d)(6) of section 491 (20 U.S.C. 1098) are each amended by striking “Congress” and inserting “authorizing committees”.

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TITLE VII—GRADUATE AND POSTSECONDARY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS

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SEC. 703. GRADUATE ASSISTANCE IN AREAS OF NATIONAL NEED.

(a) Institutional Eligibility.—Section 712 (20 U.S.C. 1135a) is amended by striking subsection (b) and inserting the following:

“(b) Designation of Areas of National Need.—After consultation with appropriate Federal and nonprofit agencies and organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Secretary shall designate areas of national need. In making such designations, the Secretary shall take into consideration—

“(1) the extent to which the interest in the area is compelling;

“(2) the extent to which other Federal programs support postbaccalaureate study in the area concerned;

“(3) an assessment of how the program may achieve the most significant impact with available resources; and

“(4) an assessment of current (as of the time of the designation) and future professional workforce needs of the United States.”.

(b) Awards to Graduate Students.—Section 714(b) (20 U.S.C. 1135c(b)) is amended—

(1) by striking “1999-2000” and inserting “2009-2010”; and

(2) by striking “Foundation graduate fellowships” and inserting “Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program for such academic year”.

(c) Additional Assistance.—Section 715(a)(1) (20 U.S.C. 1135d(a)(1)) is amended—

(1) by striking “1999-2000” and inserting “2009-2010”; and

(2) by striking “1998-1999” and inserting “2008-2009”.

(d) Authorization of Appropriations.—Section 716 (20 U.S.C. 1135e) is amended by striking “fiscal year 1999” and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting “fiscal year 2009 and each of the five succeeding fiscal years to carry out this subpart.”.

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SEC. 707. FUND FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION.

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(f) Areas of National Need.—Section 744(c) (20 U.S.C. 1138c(c)) is amended to read as follows:

“(c) Areas of National Need.—Areas of national need shall include, at a minimum, the following:

“(1) Institutional restructuring to improve learning and promote productivity, efficiency, quality improvement, and cost reduction.

“(2) Improvements in academic instruction and student learning, including efforts designed to assess the learning gains made by postsecondary students.

“(3) Articulation between two- and four-year institutions of higher education, including developing innovative methods for ensuring the successful transfer of students from two- to four-year institutions of higher education.

“(4) Development, evaluation, and dissemination of model courses, including model courses that—

“(A) provide students with a broad and integrated knowledge base;

“(B) include, at a minimum, broad survey courses in English literature, American and world history, American political institutions, economics, philosophy, college-level mathematics, and the natural sciences; and

“(C) include study of a foreign language that leads to reading and writing competency in the foreign language.

“(5) International cooperation and student exchanges among postsecondary educational institutions.

“(6) Support of centers to incorporate education in quality and safety into the preparation of medical and nursing students, through grants to medical schools, nursing schools, and osteopathic schools. Such grants shall be used to assist in providing courses of instruction that specifically equip students to—

“(A) understand the causes of, and remedies for, medical error, medically induced patient injuries and complications, and other defects in medical care;

“(B) engage effectively in personal and systemic efforts to continually reduce medical harm; and

“(C) improve patient care and outcomes, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine.”.

(g) Authorization of Appropriations for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.—Section 745 (20 U.S.C. 1138d) is amended by striking “$30,000,000 for fiscal year 1999” and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting “such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2009 and each of the five succeeding fiscal years.”.

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TITLE XI—STUDIES AND REPORTS

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SEC. 1106. ANALYSIS OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS ON INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION.

The Secretary of Education shall enter into an agreement with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences for the conduct of a study to ascertain the amount and scope of all Federal regulations and reporting requirements with which institutions of higher education must comply. The study shall be completed not later than two years after the date of enactment of this Act, and shall include information describing—

(1) by agency, the number of Federal regulations and reporting requirements affecting institutions of higher education;

(2) by agency, the estimated time required and costs to institutions of higher education (disaggregated by types of institutions) to comply with the regulations and reporting requirements described in paragraph (1); and

(3) by agency, recommendations for consolidating, streamlining, and eliminating redundant and burdensome Federal regulations and reporting requirements affecting institutions of higher education.

SEC. 1107. INDEPENDENT EVALUATION OF DISTANCE EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

(a) Independent Evaluation.—The Secretary of Education shall enter into an agreement with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a statistically valid evaluation of the quality of distance education programs, as compared to campus-based education programs, at institutions of higher education. Such evaluation shall include—

(1) identification of the elements by which the quality of distance education can be assessed, which may include elements such as subject matter, interactivity, and student outcomes;

(2) identification of distance education program success, with respect to student achievement, in relation to the mission of the institution of higher education;

(3) identification of the benefits and limitations of distance education programs and campus-based programs for different students (including classification of types of students by age category) by assessing access, job placement rates, graduation rates, and other factors related to persistence, completion, and cost; and

(4) identification and analysis of factors that may make direct comparisons of distance education programs and campus-based education programs difficult.

(b) Scope.—The National Research Council shall select for participation in the evaluation under subsection (a) a diverse group of institutions of higher education with respect to size, mission, and geographic distribution.

(c) Interim and Final Reports.—The contract under subsection (a) shall require that the National Research Council submit to the authorizing committees—

(1) an interim report regarding the evaluation under subsection (a) not later than June 30, 2009; and

(2) a final report regarding such evaluation not later than June 30, 2010.

SEC. 1108. REVIEW OF COSTS AND BENEFITS OF ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH, AND SAFETY STANDARDS.

(a) Review of Standards.—The Secretary of Education shall enter into an agreement with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a national study that—

(1) reviews, analyzes, and compares existing standards in environmental, health, and safety areas, for the regulation of—

(A) industrial research and development facilities; and

(B) research and teaching laboratories and facilities at institutions of higher education; and

(2) based upon the review in paragraph (1), develops recommended frameworks for alternative regulatory standards, if any, for research and teaching laboratories and facilities at institutions of higher education that—

(A) maintain the overall level of protection of the environment, and of the health and safety of those using such laboratories and facilities;

(B) reflect the need to ensure consistent application of Federal laws; and

(C) take into account the educational and research activities of institutions of higher education.

(b) Report.—The National Research Council shall report to Congress regarding the recommended frameworks for alternative regulatory standards developed under subsection (a). Such report shall contain recommendations for statutory or regulatory changes needed to implement the different standards described in subsection (a), and the projected costs and benefits resulting from the adoption of such standards.

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SEC. 1110. STUDY ON BIAS IN STANDARDIZED TESTS.

(a) Study.—The Secretary of Education shall enter into an agreement with the Board on Testing and Assessment of the National Academy of Sciences for the conduct of a study to identify any race, ethnicity, or gender bias in the content and construction of standardized tests that are used for admission to institutions of higher education.

(b) Report.—Not later than two years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Education shall issue an interim report to the authorizing committees related to the progress of the study under subsection (a).

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SEC. 1116. STUDY ON TEACHING STUDENTS WITH READING DISABILITIES.

(a) Independent Evaluation.—The Secretary of Education shall enter into an agreement with the Center for Education of the National Academies for a scientifically-based study of the quality of teacher education programs—

(1) to determine if teachers are adequately prepared to meet the needs of students with reading and language processing disabilities, including dyslexia; and

(2) to determine the extent to which teacher education programs are based on the essential components of reading instruction and scientifically valid research.

(b) Components.—The study conducted under subsection (a) shall be designed to provide statistically reliable information on—

(1) the number, type of courses, and credit hours required to meet the requirements of reading degree programs of teacher education programs; and

(2) the extent to which the content of the reading degree programs are based on—

(A) the essential components of reading instruction and scientifically valid research, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension; and

(B) early intervention strategies based on scientific evidence concerning challenges to the development of language processing capacity, including dyslexia, and the extent to which such strategies are effective in preventing reading failure before it occurs.

(c) Scope.—The Director of the Center for Education of the National Academy of Sciences shall select for participation in the study under subsection (a) a diverse group of institutions of higher education with respect to size, mission, and geographic distribution.

(d) Interim and Final Reports.—The Director of the Center for Education of the National Academy of Sciences shall submit to the authorizing committees and the Secretary of Education—

(1) an interim report regarding the study under subsection (a) not later than one year after the date the Center for Education of the National Academies enters into an agreement with the Secretary of Education under this section; and

(2) a final report summarizing the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of such study not later than two years after the date the Center for Education of the National Academies enters into such agreement.

(e) Task Force.—

(1) ESTABLISHMENT.—Upon submission of the final report under subsection (d)(2), the Secretary of Education shall establish a task force to make policy recommendations to the Secretary regarding the findings of the report.

(2) MEMBERSHIP.—The membership of the task force established under paragraph (1) shall include chief State school officers, State reading consultants, master teachers, national reading experts, and researchers with expertise in relevant fields.

(3) PUBLIC HEARINGS.—The task force established under paragraph (1) shall hold public hearings to provide an opportunity for public comment on the recommendations made under paragraph (1).

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SEC. 1121. NURSING SCHOOL CAPACITY.

(a) Findings.—Congress finds the following:

(1) Researchers in the field of public health have identified the need for a national study to identify constraints encountered by schools of nursing in graduating the number of nurses sufficient to meet the health care needs of the United States.

(2) The shortage of qualified registered nurses has adversely affected the health care system of the United States.

(3) Individual States have had varying degrees of success with programs designed to increase the recruitment and retention of nurses.

(4) Schools of nursing have been unable to provide a sufficient number of qualified graduates to meet the workforce needs.

(5) Many nurses are approaching the age of retirement, and the problem worsens each year.

(6) In 2004, an estimated 125,000 applications from qualified applicants were rejected by schools of nursing, due to a shortage of faculty and a lack of capacity for additional students.

(b) Study With Respect to Constraints With Respect to Schools of Nursing.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall enter into an agreement with the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study for the purpose of—

(A) identifying constraints encountered by schools of nursing in admitting and graduating the number of registered nurses necessary to ensure patient safety and meet the need for quality assurance in the provision of health care; and

(B) developing recommendations to alleviate the constraints on a short-term and long-term basis.

(2) CERTAIN COMPONENTS.—The Secretary shall ensure that the agreement under paragraph (1) provides that the study under such paragraph will include information on the following:

(A) The trends in applications for attendance at schools of nursing that are relevant to the purpose of the study, including trends regarding applicants who are accepted for enrollment and applicants who are not accepted, particularly qualified applicants who are not accepted.

(B) The number and demographic characteristics of entry-level and graduate students currently enrolled in schools of nursing, the retention rates at the schools, and the number of recent graduates from the schools, as compared to previous years and to the projected need for registered nurses based on two-year, five-year, and ten-year projections.

(C) The number and demographic characteristics of nurses who pursue graduate education in nursing and non-nursing programs but do not pursue faculty positions in schools of nursing, the reasons for not pursuing faculty positions, including any regulatory barriers to choosing to pursue such positions, and the effect of such decisions on the ability of the schools to obtain adequate numbers of faculty members.

(D) The extent to which—

(i) entry-level graduates of the schools of nursing are satisfied with their educational preparation, including their participation in nurse externships, internships, and residency programs; and

(ii) such entry-level graduates are able to effectively transition into the nursing workforce.

(E) The satisfaction of nurse managers and administrators with respect to the preparation and performance levels of entry-level graduates from the schools after one year, three years, and five years of practice, respectively.

(F) The extent to which the current salary, benefit structures, and characteristics of the workplace, including the number of nurses who are presently serving in faculty positions, influence the career path of nurses who have pursued graduate education.

(G) The extent to which the use of innovative technologies for didactic and clinical nursing education might provide for an increase in the ability of schools of nursing to train qualified nurses.

(3) RECOMMENDATIONS.—The Institute of Medicine may include in the recommendations developed under paragraph (1)(B) recommendations for legislative or administrative changes at the Federal or State level, and measures that can be taken in the private sector—

(A) to facilitate the recruitment of students into the nursing profession;

(B) to facilitate the retention of nurses in the workplace; and

(C) to improve the resources and ability of the education and health care systems to prepare a sufficient number of qualified registered nurses.

(4) METHODOLOGY OF STUDY.—

(A) SCOPE.—The Secretary shall ensure that the agreement under paragraph (1) provides that the study under such paragraph will consider the perspectives of—

(i) nurses and physicians in each of the various types of inpatient, outpatient, and residential facilities in the health care delivery system;
(ii) faculty and administrators of schools of nursing;
(iii) providers of health plans or health insurance; and
(iv) consumers.

(B) CONSULTATION WITH RELEVANT ORGANIZATION.—The Secretary shall ensure that the agreement under paragraph (1) provides that relevant agencies and organizations with expertise on the nursing shortage will be consulted with respect to the study under such paragraph, including the following:

(i) The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
(ii) The American Academy of Nursing.
(iii) The American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
(iv) The American Nurses Association.
(v) The American Organization of Nurse Executives.
(vi) The National Institute of Nursing Research.
(vii) The National League for Nursing.
(viii) The National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing.
(ix) The National Student Nurses Association.

(5) REPORT.—The Secretary shall ensure that the agreement under paragraph (1) provides that, not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this section, the Institute of Medicine shall submit a report providing the findings and recommendations made in the study under this section to the Secretary and the authorizing committees.

(6) OTHER ORGANIZATION.—If the Institute of Medicine declines to conduct the study under paragraph (1), the Secretary may enter into an agreement with another appropriate private entity to conduct the study.

(c) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) TERMS IN PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT.—The terms “collegiate school of nursing”, “associate degree school of nursing”, and “diploma school of nursing” have the meanings given to such terms in section 801 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 296).

(2) SCHOOL OF NURSING.—The term “school of nursing” means a collegiate school of nursing, an associate degree school of nursing, or a diploma school of nursing in a State.

(3) SECRETARY.—The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Education.

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PART C—THE HIGHER EDUCATION AMENDMENTS OF 1998; THE HIGHER EDUCATION AMENDMENTS OF 1992

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Section 935. Establishment of a deputy assistant secretary for international and foreign language education

The House bill creates a new Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education. The new Assistant Secretary would have responsibility for encouraging and promoting the study of cultures of other countries at all levels of education; carrying out the administration of all Department programs on international and foreign language education and research; and coordinating the Department’s international and foreign language education programs with other departments and agencies.

The Senate amendment contains no similar provision.

The Senate recedes with an amendment to establish a Deputy Assistant Secretary position under the Office of Postsecondary Education in the United States Department of Education.

The Conferees note that the National Academy of Sciences has recommended that the Department of Education should consolidate the administration of its international education and foreign language programs under an executive level position reporting to the Secretary who will provide more strategic direction and coordination with other federal agencies and the nation’s education community, with respect to international education and foreign language programs. While this Act does not create an Assistant Secretary and Office for International and Foreign Language Instruction, nothing in this Act limits the ability of a future Secretary of Education to establish one. The appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary required by this Act should be an individual with extensive background and experience in international and foreign language education, and shall have authority to administer and coordinate the Department’s international and foreign language education programs with other departments and agencies.

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TITLE XI—STUDIES AND REPORTS

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Section 1106. Analysis of Federal regulations on institutions of higher education

The House bill requires the Secretary to enter into an agreement with the National Research Council of the National Academies to conduct a study to ascertain the amount and scope of all Federal regulations and reporting requirements with which institutions of higher education must comply.

The Senate amendment contains no similar provisions.

The Senate recedes.

Section 1107. Independent evaluation of distance education programs

The House bill authorizes the Secretary to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct an independent evaluation of the quality of distance education programs.

The Senate amendment contains no similar provision.

The Senate recedes with an amendment to clarify specific areas of study and push out the deadlines for the interim and final reports.

Section 1108. Review of costs and benefits of environmental, health and safety standards

The House bill authorizes the Secretary to enter into an agreement with the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a national study to determine the costs and viability of developing and implementing standards in environmental, health and safety areas.

The Senate amendment contains no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

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Section 1110. Study on bias in standardized testing

The House bill requires the GAO to conduct a study to identify the presence of race, ethnicity, and gender biases in standardized tests. An interim report shall be presented to the Authorizing Committees no later than one year following enactment.

The Senate amendment contains no similar provision.

The Senate recedes with an amendment to carry out the study through the Board on Testing and Assessment.

The Conferees intend that the study be consistent with protocols utilized by the National Academy of Sciences, which includes provisions for public access for data collected and used to conduct the study.

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Section 1116. Study on teaching students with reading disabilities

The amendment requires the Secretary of Education to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to study the quality of teacher education programs with respect to meeting the needs of students with reading and language processing disabilities.

The Senate amendment contains no similar provision.

The Senate recedes with an amendment to focus the scope of the study and have the study be conducted by the Center for Education at the National Academy of Sciences. The study will examine the degree to which schools of education prepare their teachers to effectively address the five essential components of reading instruction. The study will also examine quality of the teacher preparation reading programs to determine the extent to which these programs incorporate early intervention strategies that target the prevention of reading failure before it occurs. The Conferees believe that teacher preparation programs should be aligned with current research and based on the essential components of reading instruction. These programs should ensure that our Nation’s future teachers are adequately prepared to address the diverse learning needs of students with reading and language processing disabilities, including dyslexia. The Conferees are concerned that pre-service teachers do not receive adequate training in the fundamentals of reading instruction during their teacher preparation program, and thus are not prepared to effectively meet the diverse needs of the students that they teach.

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Section 1121: Nursing school capacity

The House bill requires the Secretary to enter into an agreement with the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the capacity of nursing schools to admit and train a sufficient number of registered nurses to meet health care needs in the United States.

The Senate amendment contains no similar provision.

The Senate recedes.

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