Federal

Momentum Builds for Teacher Education Overhaul

By Stephen Sawchuk — September 30, 2011 3 min read

Momentum appears to be gathering behind a U.S. Department of Education plan to hold teacher education programs accountable for the achievement of students taught by their graduates.

At an event hosted here Friday by the think tank Education Sector, a diverse group of stakeholders, including Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the National Education Association, and Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach For America, spoke in favor of the initiative, which was first outlined in the Obama administration’s fiscal 2012 budget request. (“New Rules for Ed. Prep Are Mulled,” March 9, 2011.)

“It’s a really important piece to change the system and to build this profession,” said Mr. Van Roekel. “We agree no student should have a teacher who is not well prepared. We agree every candidate must meet rigorous standards. We have to combine meaningful input with meaningful output [data].”

The NEA has generally been wary of value-added test score data. Mr. Van Roekel said that its use in general continues to give him pause, but it shows promise for being used in the aggregate to help teacher preparation programs improve.

Through a negotiated rulemaking process, the Education Department wants to streamline and rewrite the reporting requirements contained in Title II of the Higher Education Act. Colleges of education participating in student financial aid currently must report information on candidates’ pass rates on licensure exams and identify low-performing programs.

Among other steps, the Education Department would require education schools to report on three new measures: how much their graduates help students learn; whether teacher-candidates are placed in high-needs subjects and areas; and whether school administrators are satisfied with the quality of program graduates.

Louisiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee already link teacher education graduates to student records, while 11 states and the District of Columbia have committed to similar initiatives through the federal Race to the Top program.

The department also proposed a $185 million Presidential Teaching Fellows program that would provide grants to states in exchange for identifying top-tier preparation programs. Then, the states would funnel money to colleges and alternative route programs to give teacher-candidates scholarships of up to $10,000 to teach in high-needs schools.

The new plan would replace the TEACH grants, a program that also subsidizes teacher training. Federal officials have said TEACH has not sufficiently kept an eye on quality: Two-thirds of programs deemed lower-performing under the HEA rules offer the grants.

And the administration proposed funding, for the first time, a program created in 2008 to improve teacher education in minority-serving institutions.

“The current system that prepares our nations’ teachers offers no guarantee of quality for anyone,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “For decades teacher preparation programs have had virtually no feedback loop” on how candidates perform so that they can revise their training regimes.

A variety of teacher education officials, such as David A. Ritchey, the executive director of the Association of Teacher Educators, and James G. Cibulka, the president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, also submitted statements of support for the department’s regulatory overhaul.

At the Sept. 30 event, Sharon P. Robinson, the president of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, said: “I’m really glad the department is finally putting a focus on teacher education.”

Ms. Robinson praised the data collection portion of the plan and support for institutions serving minority candidates. But she felt the Presidential Teaching Fellows program needed changes.

“We can perfect that as we work with the Congress” to authorize the program, she said.

The federal action comes during a period of increasing policy attention to teacher education.

A version of this article appeared in the October 05, 2011 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Recruiting and Retaining a More Diverse Teaching Workforce
We discuss the importance of workforce diversity and learn strategies to recruit and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Principal
Meredith, New Hampshire
Inter-Lakes School District
Elementary Principal
Washington State
Wenatchee School District
Principal
Meredith, New Hampshire
Inter-Lakes School District
Elementary Principal
Washington State
Wenatchee School District

Read Next

Federal Biden Legal Team Steps Back From Trump Stance on Transgender Female Sports Participation
The Education Department's office for civil rights pulls a letter that said Connecticut's transgender-inclusive policy violates Title IX.
4 min read
Federal Some Districts Extend Paid Leave Policies as They Hope for Passage of Biden Relief Plan
With federal provisions having expired, some school employees have had to dip into their own banks of leave for COVID-19 purposes.
5 min read
Linda Davila-Macal, a seventh grade reading teacher at BL Garza Middle School in Edinburg, Texas, works from her virtual classroom at her home on Aug. 31, 2020.
A teacher leads a virtual classroom from her home.
Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP
Federal President Biden Is Walking a 'Careful Tightrope' When It Comes to School Reopenings
CDC guidance and confusion over his rhetoric turn up the pressure, and could overshadow progress in schools and nuanced public opinion.
9 min read
President Joe Biden answers questions during a televised town hall event at Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on Feb. 16, 2021.
President Joe Biden answers questions during a televised town hall event in Milwaukee earlier this month.
Evan Vucci/AP
Federal White House Unveils New Money to Aid COVID-19 Testing in Schools, But Says More Is Needed
Federal agencies will use $650 million to expand testing in schools and "underserved communities" such as homeless shelters.
2 min read
Image of a coronavirus test swab.
The White House announced new money to help schools test students and staff for COVID-19, but it said more aid is necessary to scale up those efforts.
E+