U.S. Department of Education Proposes Plan to Strengthen Teacher Preparation

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U.S. Department of Education Proposes Plan to Strengthen Teacher Preparation

New Rules Build on Reforms and Innovation Efforts to Ensure Educators are Classroom-Ready

November 25, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education today announced proposed regulations that help ensure teacher training programs are preparing educators who are ready to succeed in the classroom.

The proposal builds on the reforms and innovations already happening at the state and program level across the country and by national organizations like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The new rule shifts the focus for currently required state reporting on teacher preparation programs from mostly inputs to outcomes - such as how graduates are doing in the classroom - while giving states much flexibility to determine how they will use the new measures and how program performance is measured.

Great Teachers  Matter: Providing all children in America with the opportunity for a  world-class education is critical for their success and the success of our  nation, and every child deserves a great teacher. Learn more at www.ed.gov/teacherprep. “It has long been clear that as a nation, we could do a far better job of preparing teachers for the classroom. It’s not just something that studies show – I hear it in my conversations with teachers, principals and parents,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “New teachers want to do a great job for their kids, but often, they struggle at the beginning of their careers and have to figure out too much for themselves. Teachers deserve better, and our students do too. This proposal, along with our other key initiatives in supporting flexibility, equity and leadership, will help get us closer to President Obama’s goal of putting a great teacher in every classroom, and especially in our high-need schools.”

The proposal would create transparency and create a much-needed feedback loop among aspiring teachers, preparation programs, principals, schools and states. This information will help prospective educators choose effective programs to train in high-demand teaching fields, assist schools in identifying the most effective programs to recruit from, recognize excellence to build on best practices, and help programs target their improvement efforts.

Specifically, the proposed regulations would refocus institutional data reporting already required under federal law on meaningful data at the program level, support states in developing systems that differentiate programs by performance on outcomes, provide feedback to programs about graduates’ performance and satisfaction, and hold programs accountable for how well they prepare teachers to succeed in today’s classrooms and throughout their careers. In addition, by requiring data on new teacher employment outcomes (placement and retention), it will shine a light on high-need schools and fields and help facilitate a better match of supply and demand.

Already, numerous states, institutions and other organizations are demonstrating vital leadership in improving teacher preparation. The proposed rule aims to ensure that these innovative practices are taken to scale and can be replicated in programs that are struggling.

High Quality Teacher  Preparation Matters: According to one study that compared the impact of the  top-performing teacher preparation program to lowest-performing program, the  impact on student learning gains in mathematics from teacher preparation was  considerably greater (1.5 times greater) than the impact of poverty. Source: http://eric.ed.gov//?ID=ej1007289. For example:

  • North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, and Florida were among the first states to collect and report information about teacher preparation programs and their graduates to the public.
  • Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi and Rhode Island all recently raised admissions requirements to get into teacher prep programs.
  • The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s College of Education benefited from data provided by Louisiana about the results their teachers were getting in the classroom. The University used the results to improve the university’s curriculum by including clinical experience and innovative coursework. And you know what happened? The performance of graduates improved.
  • Colleges and universities across the country are also matching supply of teachers to the demand in the field.
  • At the University of Texas at Austin, the program, UTeach, is drawing undergraduates with STEM majors into teaching. Nearly 90 percent of the graduates from the UTeach Austin program become teachers, and about half teach in high-need schools. What’s more, roughly 80% of graduates who become teachers are retained after 5 years.
  • Arizona State University and Urban Teacher Residencies United are enriching the clinical experiences they provide, so their teacher candidates can learn in real schools with the help of master teachers. Additionally, these programs use the same teaching standards in preparation that teachers will use on the job later. Eighty-five percent of Urban Teacher Residencies graduates remain in the classroom after three years, compared to the 50 percent national average.
  • Relay Graduate School of Education, founded by three charter management organizations in New York City, measures and holds itself accountable for both program graduate and employer satisfaction, as well as requires that teachers meet high goals for student learning growth before they can complete their degrees. Students of Relay teachers grew 1.3 years in reading performance in one year.
  • Fayetteville State University in North Carolina incorporates the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction competencies and standards as well as the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards into its curriculum for master’s degree students in education. Of its recent graduates, 87 percent of new teachers met or exceeded expectations for student learning growth, compared to the 75 percent state average.

“We know how important strong teaching is to students’ education and life outcomes – especially for our most vulnerable kids,” Duncan said. “Leaders in this field are already moving in the direction of our proposal, and our regulations try to align with their best thinking on how to prepare effective educators who are ready to hit the ground running on day one. If we are going to improve teaching and learning in America, we have to improve the training and support that we give our teachers.”

Other changes in the proposed regulations include requiring performance data reporting at the program – rather than the institutional – level and requiring states to engage with a broad range of stakeholders - including teacher preparation programs, school leaders and teachers - in designing their systems. The proposal also changes eligibility for TEACH Grants so that the money only goes to graduates of programs rated effective or higher for at least two of the previous three years. States must provide technical assistance to any teacher preparation programs rated as low-performing.

The proposal would require states to report annually on the performance of teacher preparation programs – including alternative certification programs – based on a combination of:

  • Employment outcomes: New teacher placement and three-year retention rates in high-need schools and in all schools.
  • New teacher and employer feedback: Surveys on the effectiveness of preparation.
  • Student learning outcomes: Impact of new teachers as measured by student growth, teacher evaluation, or both.
  • Assurance of specialized accreditation or evidence that a program produces high-quality candidates.

The proposed regulations will undergo a 60-day comment period where the public can submit suggestions. The final rule will be published in mid-2015.

A fact sheet on the proposed regulation can be found on www.ed.gov/teacherprep, along with a version of the draft regulations, which will publish in Federal Register in coming days.