NAICU Washington Update

House Hears that Better Data Would Improve Teacher Preparation

May 23, 2007

A recent hearing by the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness explored the respective impacts of Title II of the Higher Education Act and Title II of No Child Left Behind on teacher preparation, as well as how federal dollars can best be invested to improve teacher quality, and how the two titles might be better coordinated.

Chaired by Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), the May 17 subcommittee hearing included a varied panel of witnesses who offered a range of recommendations on reauthorizing the federal role in teacher education. Evident throughout the testimony was the desire for both improved data quality and rigorous accountability. For example, panelists responded consistently that increased availability of data would improve performance, assessments, and student achievement.

Panelist George Scott, representing the federal General Accountability Office, discussed a recent study that outlined the differences between Title II of HEA and Title II of NCLB. He said that future studies would be improved by the increased availability of better data overall, and through assistance from the Department of Education in collecting data on teachers and student academic achievement.

Sharon Robinson, president of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE), cited what she views as the three big myths of teacher preparation: that schools of education are weak in content knowledge, don't prepare teachers for the challenges of the classroom, and reject accountability. She advocated support for the recently-introduced TEACH Act (H. R. 2204), which includes a proposal from prominent researcher Linda Darling Hammond for a "Marshall Plan for Teaching." AACTE's HEA reauthorization recommendations include targeted investments to develop state data systems, improved teaching fellowships, and a revision of grade requirements. For the NCLB reauthorization, AACTE recommends targeted funding for systemic changes - at both the K-12 and college levels - to strengthen professionalism, mentoring, teachers' use of data to improve teaching, teaching of diverse populations, and improving college-school partnerships.

Janice Wiley, deputy director of Texas' Region I Service Center, talked about the use of scientifically-based teaching methods to improve student achievement in her region. The center represents 37 school districts and 370,000 students on the Texas-Mexico border.

Daniel Fallon, program director for education at the Carnegie Corporation, described a project of the nonprofit organization Teachers for a New Era, in which 11 colleges and universities are restructuring the way they prepare teachers for the classroom. He supports incentives to states for data to be used for program improvements, academy-based induction to support novice teachers, and partnering with schools for evidence-based performance.

Emily Feistritzer, president of the National Center for Alternative Certification, discussed the tracking of alternative certification routes since 1983. She said that such programs should no longer be considered the step-children of the teaching system, given that 130 alternative programs now produce a third of all new teachers.


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