December Policy News Round-Up

Happy New Year! In December, Congressional Committees introduced two bills to reauthorize two laws impacting education research and workforce development. Learn more about what NCLD did in December and look ahead to what’s to come in 2024.

Senate HELP Committee Passes Bipartisan Advancing Research in Education Act (AREA)

In one of the first bipartisan achievements of this Committee this Congress, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee introduced and passed the Advancing Research in Education Act (S.3392), which seeks to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA). ESRA authorizes the Institute of Education Sciences (IES, which is the independent research arm of the U.S. Department of Education and received over $700 million of federal funding in 2023, and requires the administration of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), widely regarded as the most valid measure of student achievement. 

Some key aims of the bill impacting research on education for students with disabilities include:

  • Improving the research to practice gap with a new definition of “evidence use” and supporting research-to-practice partnerships
  • Requiring at least 1 member of the National Board for Education Sciences, which governs IES, with expertise in special education research and research on children with disabilities
  • Expanding the research focuses of the National Center for Special Education Research to include examining personnel qualifications of special education teachers, examining assistive and instructional technologies, and post-school outcomes including postsecondary education and competitive integrated employment

Sen. Hassan (D-NH) introduced an amendment that would improve the inclusion of students with disabilities who need accommodations on the National Assessment for Educational Progress, but the amendment was not voted on nor included with the bill.

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a full floor vote in the Senate.

House Education and Workforce Committee Passes Bipartisan A Stronger Workforce for America Act

The House Education and Workforce Committee introduced and passed A Stronger Workforce for America Act (H.R. 6655) which seeks to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was last reauthorized in 2014. WIOA is the primary workforce development law that funds workforce development programs and services, including Vocational Rehabilitation which serves individuals with disabilities. Most notably, this bill preserves current law for Vocational Rehabilitation and would not change the program.

Some highlights of the bill that could benefit individuals with disabilities include: 

  • Requiring the U.S. Department of Labor to conduct a study on improving workforce services for individuals with disabilities
  • Adding digital literacy to foundational skills for the workforce
  • Emphasizing expanded use of “individual training accounts” which allow jobseekers to receive training services from a list of eligible providers
  • Requiring local providers to provide “individualized career services” which may include assessments of skill levels and service needs, individual or group counseling, financial literacy services, and more

The bill has not been scheduled for a full floor vote in the House.

What’s to Come in 2024? 

Congressional (In?)Action

2024 is the second year of the 118th Congress and also is impacted by the upcoming presidential election, so less legislative activity overall is likely. NCLD will continue the work to advance our policy agenda and educate and inform policymakers on issues impacting individuals with LD. 

Visit the NCLD Action Center to contact your Members of Congress today!

Turning our Eyes to States

In 2022 and 2023, state legislatures in Arizona and Illinois passed state bills that would require public institutions of higher education to accept an IEP or 504 plan as sufficient disability documentation. In late 2023, a similar bill was pre-filed in Virginia

If you are interested in leading advocacy efforts to introduce a state-level version of the RISE Act in your state, connect with the NCLD policy team at

Coming Soon from the Biden-Harris Administration

Last Fall, an executive order of Artificial Intelligence (AI) required all agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, required to develop resources, policy and guidance on AI (learn more in our blog post: The AI Buzz in DC). We expect these resources later this year. 

In addition, the long awaited proposal updating Section 504’s regulations from the U.S. Department of Education is also expected this year.