NAICU Washington Update

Teacher Prep a Big Focus of President's Budget

February 16, 2012

In the administration and on the Hill, there are lots of moving parts on teacher education.  Congress is currently working on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  Across town, the Department of Education is trying to promulgate regulations on teacher quality.  And now out of the White House comes the President's FY 2013 budget, which proposes to reform teacher preparation through billions of dollars in K-12 and higher education funds. 

K-12 Funds

The K-12 budget request reflects the administration's Blueprint for Reform, from nearly two years ago, to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), consolidate federal K-12 programs and change No Child Left Behind (NCLB) accountability for student achievement. 

The budget proposes a $3 billion fund called Excellent Instructional Teams, which consolidates a number of existing teacher programs (Teacher Quality State Grants (Title II ESEA), Teacher Incentive Fund, Transition to Teaching and Teacher Quality Partnership Grants (Title II HEA)).  However, the proposal would maintain the existing institutional and state report cards for teacher education under Title II.  This proposal requires passage of legislation by Congress.

From the $3 billion, the following programs are proposed:

  • $2.5 billion for Effective Teachers and Leaders State Grants: This new program would provide formula grants to states, requiring them to develop definitions of "effective" and "highly effective" teachers and principals, which would be used in state and local evaluation systems. States would also have to develop plans for equitable distribution of "effective" and "highly effective" teachers. Of the $2.5 million, 25 percent would be set aside for recruitment and training.

  • $400 million for Teacher Leader Innovation Fund: This new program would make competitive grants to states and locals "willing to implement bold approaches to improving the effectiveness of the education workforce in high-need schools . . . by creating the conditions needed to identify, reward, retain and advance effective teachers, principals and school leadership teams."

  • $75 million for Teacher and Leader Pathways: this would fund continuation grants for existing School Leadership, Teacher Quality Partnership, and Transition to Teaching Grants.

In addition to the ESEA reauthorization proposal, the budget also includes a renewed "American Jobs Act," (a follow up to the 2009 stimulus package), that calls for $63 billion in mandatory funds for school modernization, teacher jobs, the Community College initiative and Career Academies (see separate budget article).

Within the "American Jobs Act," the administration proposes a new $5 billion competitive grant called RESPECT - Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching - to challenge states to work with teachers and unions to reform the teaching profession by reforming colleges of education, raising the bar for entry into teaching, creating new career ladders, providing performance pay, and funding evaluation systems that include data on student achievement, and much more.

What the federal government proposes directly, and what it asks states to implement as a result of receiving federal funds, in K-12 education reform policy is increasingly important for us to understand, because those reforms meet independent colleges in their teacher preparation programs.  We will continue to monitor legislative action on ESEA reauthorization, and advocate for our institutional autonomy as is appropriate throughout the process.

Higher Ed Funds

The big teacher proposal in higher education is the idea of changing TEACH Grants into Presidential Teaching Fellows.  Instead of a $4,000 grant to individual students who pursue a teaching degree and then serve in a high-need school for at least four years, the fellows would provide grants to states to provide $10,000 scholarship to "talented" students at the "most effective" teacher preparation programs.  Recipients would commit to teach for at least three years in a high-need school.

States would have to meet certain conditions to participate in the Presidential Teaching Fellows Program: measure effectiveness of their teacher preparation programs based on student achievement data of their graduates; hold teacher preparation programs accountable for results; and upgrade licensure and certification standards. 

As with the College Affordability proposal, this Fellows proposal is not a surprise, as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan highlighted it in September, indicating that the most successful conclusion would be for Congress to adopt an ESEA approach that improves the selectivity of students going into teacher preparation, increases accountability for teacher preparation programs based on the success its graduates' K-12 students on mandated student achievement tests, and ramps up clinical practice in all programs - whether traditional or alternative.

The current negotiated rulemaking session on Title II Teacher Report Cards and TEACH Grants is directly related to this proposal, as it deals specifically with the definition of "high quality teacher preparation program," for purposes of awarding TEACH Grants.  Those will continue the last week of February, and the first week of April.

NAICU has created an informational listserv for presidents interested in following the details on teacher preparation issues, since the issue is hot on so many fronts.  If you or someone on your campus would like to be included on this list (it is not a "chat" list), please email to be added.

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