NAICU Washington Update

Proposed Teacher Preparation Regulations Tie Program Quality to Aid; Comments due Feb. 2, 2015

December 17, 2014

After two years in the making, the Department of Education issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to provide increased Title II accountability for all teacher preparation programs and to link program quality to Title IV TEACH Grant eligibility. Comments on the proposed regulations are due February 2, 2015.

Included in the regulations is an additional request for comments (due Jan. 2, 2015) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the cost and burden of implementing teacher preparation regulations.

Major Areas of Concern

While some improvements were made in the time that has elapsed since the failed negotiated rulemaking sessions in 2012, the same four major areas of concern for colleges remain as prominent features of this regulatory proposal:

  1. Federally-mandated state indicators of quality for teacher preparation program assessments;
  2. Rating programs in four performance classifications based on the federally-mandated state indicators;
  3. The use of value-added metrics embedded into student learning outcomes and student growth measures; and
  4. A precedent-setting link between program performance and all Title IV student aid.

Procedural Improvements

There are several procedural improvements, however, that were made to the draft regulations, including:

  • A 60-day comment period ending Feb. 2, 2015 (Docket ID ED-2014-OPE-0057);
  • A long implementation plan that would give programs until the 2020-2021 school year to meet the new standards;
  • Recognition of the need to protect student privacy by increasing the threshold for program reporting to 25 students or more;
  • The inclusion of institutions that represent diversity in the state stakeholders meetings; and
  • Technical assistance to help low-performing programs improve. (If the programs do not improve, they will be closed.)

Federal Government Enters New Territory in Mandating and Defining Assessment Indicators

However, despite these improvements, the regulations, and the tenor in which they are being issued, are still problematic. Of particular concern is the premise that teacher quality can be measured by the GPA and SAT scores of the incoming teacher candidates, and that an institution’s teacher preparation program quality can be measured by the student test scores of the children taught by an institution’s graduates. The federal government is entering new territory in mandating and defining the indicators to use in assessing program quality, which has been a traditional role of the states, the profession, and private accreditation.

Despite the rhetoric around allowing states to use their own measures of student growth, because of previous federal actions, all but eight states already use value-added measures of student learning in their teacher assessments. Thus this proposed regulation is mandating those remaining states to use value-added measures in their student learning outcomes when assessing teacher preparation programs.

The circuitous links among the definitions of state indicators, program ratings based on these indicators, the prominence of value-added measures in student learning outcomes, and connecting program quality to student aid eligibility are unprecedented. Teacher preparation programs will be assessed and rated following these steps:

  1. Every “teacher preparation program” (elementary, secondary, special education) at every “teacher preparation entity” (IHE, alternative route) will report to the state on their graduates and new teachers so that the state can assess its program performance.
  2. Program performance will be based on student learning outcomes, employment outcomes, survey outcomes, and whether the program is accredited by a specialized accreditor (CAEP), or meets equivalent state standards.
  3. Performance ratings will be classified as “exceptional,” “effective,” “at-risk,” or “low-performing.”
  4. Only programs with “effective” or “exceptional” ratings, based on satisfactory or better student learning outcomes, will be defined as “high quality” for the purposes of awarding student aid TEACH grants under Title IV.
  5. Programs with a “low-performing” rating and the loss of state approval will not be allowed to use any Title IV aid. These programs will be given technical assistance to help them improve. (If the programs do not improve, they will be still closed.)

There is no doubt that these proposed regulations are designed as a test pilot for a rating system for all of higher education.

The Department indicates they do not believe this system will be difficult for states to implement, using the rationale that all 50 states and the District of Columbia received stimulus money in 2009, to collect and report on student growth relating to individual teachers and tests by 2013. The Department also notes that $575.7 million in federal funds have already been given to states for state longitudinal data systems, which allows 30 states and the District of Columbia to link student achievement to teacher programs.

The regulations stop just short of a federal mandate for specialized program accreditation, because it requires an “assurance of accreditation,” or meeting equivalent rigorous state standards. The Department explains in its rationale that specialized accreditation is “tantamount to a State finding that the teacher preparation program has these other attributes.”

Comments on the overall proposed regulation package are due February 2, 2015. To submit comments electronically, go to and submit comments for Docket ID ED-2014-OPE-0057. Written comments can be sent to Ms. Sophia McArdle, U. S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street, NW, Room 8017, Washington, DC, 20006. NAICU will be submitting comments, which will be shared with its membership before the comment period is completed.

OMB Request for Comments due January 2, 2015

Embedded within the overall regulations is a request for comments to the OMB on the cost and burden of implementing the regulations. The cost and burden to implement regulations are often underestimated by the federal government, with the intent of avoiding the cost threshold for an “economically significant” regulation of $100 million. Triggering that threshold can bring greater scrutiny to the entire package, which is why this question is so important to answer. The estimate of the total 10-year cost of these regulations is between $42 and $42.1 million with more specific breakdowns that you can find here. Comments on cost and burden should be sent to, with a copy to

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