Teacher Preparation

Trump Signs Bill Scrapping Teacher-Prep Rules

By Brenda Iasevoli — March 28, 2017 3 min read
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President Donald Trump signed a bill on Monday overturning a controversial regulation put in place by the Obama Administration that sought to rate the effectiveness of programs training K-12 teachers.

The rules, first released by the U.S. Department of Education on Oct. 12 of last year, required states to rate teacher-prep programs every year based on several criteria, such as the number of graduates who get jobs in high-needs schools, how long those graduates stay in the teaching profession, and their impact on student-learning outcomes. Teacher-prep programs were to use what they learned from the ratings to improve training.

Some, like Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky. who led the effort to rescind the rules, said they amounted to federal overreach. Others have argued that the rules actually provide considerable flexibility to the states, for instance, in how they measure student-learning outcomes.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García objected to the idea of judging teacher-training programs on their graduates’ impact on student achievement. The requirement, they argued at the time of the regulations’ release, might encourage programs to steer graduates away from schools where they were likely to face more challenges.

Yet some saw value in checking up on education schools to ensure they are sending quality teachers into classrooms across the country. The problem with entirely scrapping the teacher-prep rules, said Carole Basile, the dean of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, is that without regulations, some education schools will find little incentive to track their graduates. Still, she isn’t worried about the good schools. They will find a way, said Basile. “A good teacher ed program is always looking out there to see how their graduates are doing,” she said.

Many states have determined to push forward with plans to improve teacher-prep. Earlier this month, Missouri released for the first time an annual performance report for the state’s teacher-prep programs. Ratings are based on how many candidates passed the certification exam within two tries and the grade point averages of the teacher candidates. The report also factors in surveys of first-year teachers and principals about how prepared teachers were for leading classrooms. Beginning next year, the state’s board of education will use the performance reports to make decisions on accreditation.

The report on the state’s teacher-prep programs was never about federal compliance, according to Sarah Potter, the communications coordinator at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “The repeal of the regulations will not affect our work,” she told Education Week. “We will continue the annual performance report for educator preparation programs because it is the right thing to do, and it’s what is best for the children of Missouri.”

Also scrapped on Monday were the accountability rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act, which detail how schools must be rated for school-improvement purposes. Andrew Ujifusa recounts the debate over the accountability rules on the Politics K-12 blog.

Both the teacher-prep and ESSA accountability rules were overturned using the Congressional Review Act, a rarely used law that gives Congress, with the president’s signature, the power to abolish regulations it doesn’t like. Any regulations put in place in the final 60 days of a previous administration are vulnerable. Up until now, the “CRA” has been used only once. Trump promised on Monday that there will be plenty more “unnecessary” and “harmful” regulations heading for the chopping block in the weeks to come.

Image: Andrew Harnik/AP

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