Federal

The Budget Deal’s Teacher-Quality Programs: Winners and Losers

By Stephen Sawchuk — January 17, 2014 2 min read

As you probably know by now, Congress agreed to halt sequestration—across-the-board cuts of about 5 percent to nearly all programs—as part of a fiscal 2014 budget deal completed this week (and now awaiting President Obama’s signature). With that in mind, which of the federal teacher-quality programs look to get some of their mojo back? Read on.

WINNERS

• The SEED grants (Supporting Effective Educator Development). This small program supports professional-development in a number of areas; past receipients have included Teach For America, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and the National Writing Project. Carved out of the massive $2.5 billion state formula grants program (see below), the set-aside was raised from 1.5 percent to 2 percent of the larger program, or about $50 million.

• The Math and Science Partnerships program, which supports professional development in those areas, received $150 million, up from $142 million last year. While this isn’t the most it’s ever gotten—during the height of the stimulus the program received nearly $180 million—we’re counting it as a winner because it’s back to its pre-sequestration level. Other education programs were not so lucky.

A DRAW

Teacher Incentive Fund. Congress restored $5 million to this program, which supports performance-pay initiatives, putting it at $289 million in all. That’s not as high as its pre-sequestration level ($299 million), but still more than the other teacher-related competitive grants. With the Race to the Top winding down, it remains the premier vehicle for the U.S. Department of Education’s effort to push teacher-evaluation reform. Given that congressional appetite for that activity remains mixed, it is probably lucky to have been spared more cuts.

• The State Teacher Quality Grants. This program, better known as Title II-A, goes by formula to every state. Appropriators gave it $2.5 billion, which represents an increase of $120 million, or 5 percent, about the same amount that was cut because of sequestration. But some of that will be lost to the SEED set-aside, which was also increased.

LOSERS

Transition to Teaching, which supports career-changers, including members of the military who enter teaching, was cut by nearly 45 percent—from $26 million to $13 million.

Teacher Quality Partnership grants, which support reforms to teacher-preparation programs, was funded at $41 million—below the pre-sequestration level of $43 million.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.