U.S. Department of Education Approves the District of Columbia and 17 Additional States' Plans to Provide Equal Access to Excellent Educators

Archived Information

U.S. Department of Education Approves the District of Columbia and 17 Additional States' Plans to Provide Equal Access to Excellent Educators

October 22, 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 the District of Columbia and 17 states' plans to ensure equitable access to excellent educators: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

"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.

The 17 states and the District of Columbia receiving approval of their plans 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 needs. Each of these states and the District of Columbia engaged a variety of stakeholder groups to ensure that these plans not only include strategies that will be effective in eliminating identified equity gaps, but also to ensure that these strategies are meaningful for the students, teachers, and communities in which they will be implemented.

  • Each of the 17 states and the District of Columbia are 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-needs schools.

    • These actions include, for example, Alabama's work to pilot "Professional Pathways for Alabama Teachers"—a tiered certification system to provide career development pathways for educators in the state designed to help attract and support new teachers, and retain and recognize effective ones; and Michigan's implementation of the "Michigan Teacher Corps" through which it is building a program to attract and retain highly skilled instructional teams in Michigan's lowest performing schools that have a disproportionate share of students from low-income families and students of color.

  • Eleven of the states—Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Washington—are taking steps to increase data-driven decision-making to help ensure that schools and districts have access to accurate, timely information necessary to make knowledgeable decisions. More specifically,

    • New Jersey is improving its data sources and transparency efforts to ensure that sufficient information is available, including through its Educator Preparation Provider Annual Reports (first released in August 2014), as a part of an ongoing effort to provide teacher preparation programs, teacher candidates, and districts with transparent performance data from its educator preparation programs. Tennessee is investing in data transparency by providing new and more frequent reports, including a new Human Capital Data Report to its schools and districts to help them make informed staffing decisions.

  • Five states—Alabama, Arizona, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Washington, and the District of Columbia—have included strategies that provide incentives designed to reward teachers for exceptional work and to encourage excellent educators to remain in the highest-need schools. More specifically,

    • Arizona is proposing incentives such as salary increases, social support services, housing allowances, teacher-leadership opportunities, improved administrative and leadership support, and assistance to schools to develop a collaborative community of learning in order to draw the most effective teachers to the most remote and challenging schools. In the District of Columbia, financial incentives are available for the highest-performing teachers, and through "IMPACTplus," D.C. ensures that the highest-performing teachers in the lowest-income schools are eligible for the largest bonuses. North Dakota's teachers are provided with easily accessible information about loan forgiveness, and signing bonuses are available for those in hard-to-staff areas.

  • Finally, all of the states announced today, as well as the District of Columbia, have committed to holding themselves publicly accountable for meaningful progress in eliminating identified equity gaps by publicly reporting their progress. This public reporting will help ensure that students, schools, communities, and stakeholders continue to have information about states' progress in this critical work.

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.

Last month, the Department approved 16 states' plans to ensure equitable access to excellent educators. Those states were: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

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.