The Senate’s Teacher-Prep Draft: What You Need to Know

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 01, 2014 2 min read
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Senate and House officials have begun to release their goals for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. And here at Teacher Beat, that means the provisions governing teacher preparation.

Colleague Lauren Camera has an exhaustive breakdown of the Senate draft for you at Politics K-12, as well as reaction from the teachers’ unions. Here’s Teacher Beat’s analysis of the bill’s most important features.

Continued focus on residency programs. The bill would preserve the Teacher Quality Partnership grants and extend them to principal preparation. It would put a premium on the residency, which couples a yearlong internship experience with focused coursework.

A new “reform” grant program. A new discretionary grant program in the bill would give incentives to states to use many of the same measures for rating teacher-programs that the U.S. Department of Education’s pending rules are expected to include. Programs that scored poorly would ultimately be unable to offer TEACH grants, which subsidize candidates working in challenging schools, or could face closure.

Less reporting. The reporting requirements for all programs enrolling students receiving financial aid are slimmed down somewhat. Meanwhile, the directive for states to identify at-risk and low-performing programs is strengthened, and would direct states to include some outcome measures, including licensing-test-passage rates, graduate surveys, and progress increasing the number of teachers trained in shortage subjects.

Attempts to close loopholes. The bill seems to tackle a longstanding loophole in the reporting of licensing-test scores. Formerly, programs only had to report passage rates and scaled scores for program completers. Because many institutions made passing the test a requirement of completing a program, states have tended to report very high passage rates on the tests. This bill requires reporting for program participants, which would seem to include anyone enrolled in a program who took the test. In addition, it requires programs to report first-time passage rates. (Most states let teachers take the exams multiple times.)

Also of interest, the bill doesn’t incorporate the controversial GREAT act, a bill that would have helped states create teacher-preparation academies both in and outside of higher education.

As Lauren reports, the House is also prepared to introduce a draft of its own related to teacher preparation. We’ll have more for you when that bill is released.

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