Federal News in Brief

Negotiations on Teacher-Preparation Rules Fail

By Stephen Sawchuk — April 17, 2012 1 min read
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A three-month-long effort to set new teacher-preparation reporting and accountability rules effectively reached its conclusion last week after the U.S. Department of Education declined to renew a negotiated-rulemaking process that had already been extended.

Negotiators tapped by the field appeared far apart on major issues—including the place of student-achievement outcomes in judging the quality of teacher-preparation programs—during a conference call held April 12.

The Education Department had proposed requiring states to classify their teacher-preparation programs into four categories, using a mix of measures, including student-achievement information. Programs in the top two categories would have qualified for offering federal teach grants for teacher candidates who commit to teaching in low-income schools.

Several negotiators said they didn’t believe that such measures as “value added” calculations were ready to be used to judge program quality.

“There’s not enough research at this point in time to suggest that this has enough validity and reliability across the country, or state by state, and yet we’re trying to put it into ... regulations that will now deny students financial aid based on something that is yet to be proven as valid,” said Joseph Pettibon, an associate vice president for academic services at Texas a&m University.

A variety of alternatives, including pilot programs and temporary waivers, were discussed, but differences of opinion appeared to run too deep.

“Simply based on the discussion today, I don’t think a few hours [of additional negotiations] would do it, and I don’t think a few weeks would do it,” said David M. Steiner, the dean of the education school at Hunter College in New York City. “Long-standing divisions have re-emerged, and I don’t see a [likely] consensus on anything close to what the department has in mind.”

The Education Department will craft the rules on its own, though they must still go out for public comment before being approved.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as Negotiations on Teacher-Preparation Rules Fail

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