U.S. Department of Education Approves 16 States' Plans to Provide Equal Access to Excellent Educators

Archived Information

U.S. Department of Education Approves 16 States' Plans to Provide Equal Access to Excellent Educators

September 10, 2015

As part of its Excellent Educators for All initiative—designed to ensure that all students have equal access to a high-quality education—the U.S. Department of Education today announced the approval of 16 states' plans to ensure equitable access to excellent educators: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

"All parents understand that strong teaching is fundamental to strong opportunities for their children. We as a country should treat that opportunity as a right that every family has—regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin, zip code, wealth, or first language," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

"Few issues in education are more important than ensuring equitable access to high-quality teachers, and the Department of Education is right to focus attention on this topic. Clear action plans are a first step, but we've got to make sure that these plans are actually enacted," said Kati Haycock, President, The Education Trust.

"We know that access to great teachers makes a big difference for all students, and even more so for students facing the challenges of concentrated poverty and racial isolation. I am encouraged to see that the Department of Education is moving forward on this important equity issue," said Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

The 16 states receiving approval of their plans today are taking promising steps to eliminate the gaps some students face in access to excellent educators by implementing strategies and innovative solutions to challenging problems that meet local context and needs. Each of these states engaged a variety of stakeholder groups to ensure that these plans include strategies that will actually be effective.

The strategies that states are implementing to eliminate equity gaps include, for example, working to support, strengthen, or modify teacher preparation programs, to help ensure that all teachers are ready to provide high-quality instruction to their students, and are prepared for success in high-need schools. This work is occurring in states such as: Delaware, Nevada, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Maine. More specifically,

  • Massachusetts set higher expectations for its educator preparation programs, which include implementation of its updated Guidelines for Professional Standards for Teachers, which are aligned to the Massachusetts Educator Evaluation Framework.
  • Kentucky will utilize regional effectiveness coaches to work with educator preparation programs to help inform teacher education faculty regarding new standards, teacher and leader evaluation systems, and teacher leadership.

Additionally, states are investing in strategies related to school leaders, because great teachers will follow great principals, even into hard-to-staff schools. This work is occurring in states such as: Nevada, Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Maine, and South Carolina. More specifically,

  • New York is continuing work on its comprehensive Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness grant program that includes Career Ladder Pathways which provide opportunities for the state's most effective educators to advance into leadership positions.
  • Connecticut is implementing its "LEAD CT" initiative, which purposefully focuses on school leadership and offers a suite of supports, including the 12-month "Turnaround Principals Program" that provides coaching, a summer institute and a monthly community of practice that provides a solid support system with a goal of retaining principals for at least five years in high-poverty/high-minority schools.
  • Delaware created a Leadership Design Fellowship, under which it will identify a group of school districts with equity gaps, to share knowledge and develop principal pipelines to identify, cultivate and select school leaders based on individual school needs.

Also, states are implementing strategies that provide financial incentives designed to reward teachers for exceptional work and to encourage excellent educators to remain in the highest-need schools. This work is occurring in states such as: Delaware, Nevada, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, New York, Maine, and South Carolina.

  • Rhode Island is providing support to its districts in reviewing equity data and determining where financial incentives and differentiated compensation will attract and retain more qualified educators.
  • Minnesota has proposed providing financial support through grants to paraprofessionals seeking full teacher licensure, providing forgivable loans to teacher candidates in high-need subject areas, offering forgivable loans for already licensed teachers who want to add licenses in high-need subject areas.
  • Nevada passed a new state law that established a performance pay system for the recruitment and retention of teachers and administrators focusing on the lowest-performing schools.

Further, states are implementing strategies that are focused on predicting, reducing, and eliminating critical shortages in the teaching force so that staffing challenges do not negatively impact student learning. This work is occurring in states such as: Arkansas, Connecticut, and Missouri.

  • Missouri continued implementation and refinement of an "Educator Shortage Predictor Model" tool that is used to inform leadership training on practices to help recruit, support, and retain excellent teachers in all schools.
  • Connecticut awarded planning grants to eight high-poverty and high-minority districts to support their development of multiyear plans designed to increase the number of Black and Latino pre-college students who are interested in education careers, become certified to teach, and are recruited and hired.
  • Arkansas developed a critical Educator Shortage Predictor Model, which will provide the state with the necessary data to develop and provide attractive incentives for high-need areas while recruiting teacher candidates.

In July 2014, the U.S. Department of Education announced a comprehensive Excellent Educators for All Initiative. As part of this initiative, states were asked to create new, comprehensive plans that put in place locally-developed solutions to ensure every student has equal access to effective educators. These plans are required by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have submitted their plans for review by the Department.

The Department is currently reviewing the remaining state plans to determine whether they meet all of the requirements set in ESEA, and will make determinations regarding the plans on a rolling basis. The determinations and the plans in their entirety can be found online at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/resources.html.