U.S. Department of Education Approves Puerto Rico and Remaining Eight States' Plans to Provide Equal Access to Excellent Educators

Archived Information

U.S. Department of Education Approves Puerto Rico and Remaining Eight States' Plans to Provide Equal Access to Excellent Educators

December 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 Puerto Rico and eight states' plans to ensure equitable access to excellent educators: Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and Puerto Rico.

"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 eight states and Puerto Rico 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 engaged a variety of stakeholder groups to ensure that these plans not only include strategies that are likely to 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'll be implemented. This stakeholder engagement is critical to the success of this work, as we can only come up with workable, meaningful solutions to this problem if teachers, principals and other key stakeholders are at the table.

  • Seven of the states—Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas—and Puerto Rico are working to support, strengthen, or modify teacher preparation and development 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.

    • These actions include, for example, Louisiana's continued implementation of its "Believe and Prepare Program", in which 41 of Louisiana's school districts have partnered with teacher preparation programs to ensure that new teachers are meeting workforce needs and are ready for the challenges of today's classrooms and Oregon's work to ensure that all teacher and school leader candidates in State-approved programs experience serving in high-need school settings during their teacher and leader preparation.

  • Eight of the states— Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Oregon, South Dakota and Texas—are taking steps to increase data-driven decision-making, to help ensure that schools and districts have access to accurate and timely information necessary to make knowledgeable decisions.

    • These steps include, for example, Hawaii's work to enhance its data systems to include additional measures of educator quality that will ultimately provide information, data, and trend reports to end users on-demand and in real time.

  • Finally, all of the states and Puerto Rico 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. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico submitted their plans for review by the Department. These plans are required by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This critical work—of ensuring that all students have access to excellent educators—is a foundational component ESEA. On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorizes the ESEA, into law. The ESSA prioritizes equity and excellence for all of America's students and supports great educators.

The Department previously approved plans for 42 states and the District of Columbia to ensure equitable access to excellent educators. Those states were: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The state plans in their entirety can be found online at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/resources.html.