Members of the congressional New Democratic Coalition expressed dismay last week at the Department of Education’s recent decision to give teachers’ colleges an extra year before they have to start reporting on the quality of their programs.
The 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act contains new accountability measures requiring, among other provisions, that university teacher-training programs begin reporting their graduates’ performance on state licensing and certification exams to states by April of this year. The states must then submit reports on the programs to the federal Education Department.
But the department decided in January that colleges could wait until April 2001 to file their first reports, with the state reports due the following October. (“Teacher Colleges, States Granted Report Card Extensions,” Feb. 2, 2000.)
“Congress intended this process to present a clearer and broader picture of the readiness of our nation’s teacher workforce,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote in a Feb. 10 letter to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley. “The decision to postpone the initial reports by a full year greatly troubles us.”
The coalition is a group of moderate Democrats formed in 1997. Thirty-two of the coalition’s 65 members signed the letter, which was circulated by Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin.
Terry Knecht Dozier, a senior adviser to Secretary Riley on teaching, said certain requirements of the law, especially those designed to ensure the data are comparable and verifiable, have contributed to the delay. The lawmakers also asked the department to respond to allegations that a consultative committee formed to help with the process was biased against the reporting.
Ms. Dozier said that “if you look at the membership of the committee, they are very broad-based” and include members of Congress. She added that the body did not have decision-making power.
—Erik W. Robelen
A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2000 edition of Education Week