NAICU Washington Update

New Guidance on Teacher Prep Regulations

December 13, 2016

New guidance from the Department of Education on the implementation of the final Teacher Preparation regulations appears to clash with new restrictions on federal intervention in state teacher evaluation systems contained in the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The rewrite of No Child Left Behind, ESSA included specific restrictions on the role of the Department in state teacher evaluation systems.  The Department’s effort may be mostly symbolic, as the teacher preparation regulations are increasingly being seen as among the first higher education regulations the new Congress would like to reverse.

The new guidance outlines the requirements for reporting purposes to meet the first deadlines in 2018.  NAICU noted in the analysis of the final regulation (Washington Update, October 19, 2016) that the Department did not mandate an “excellent” performance category, or the use of value-added metrics and student learning outcomes in the institutional and state report cards, but strongly encouraged them.  The guidance reiterates the Department’s position on these two issues. 

With regard to the three categories in the final regulation for assessing program performance (low-performing, at-risk or effective) the guidance encourages states to use a fourth “excellent” performance level to highlight high performing teacher preparation programs.  

The Department says this will better emphasize the importance of meaningful differentiation between program outcomes, especially if states award effective or higher assessments on programs with strong or greatly improved student learning outcomes.   The Department encourages significant weight on student learning outcomes, employment outcomes, and survey outcomes of teachers as indicators for the State Report Card.  And while not mandating any particular measure of student growth, student learning outcomes should be heavily weighted.

Other issues of interest covered in the guidance include teacher diversity and technical assistance.  While teacher diversity is not directly addressed in the teacher preparation regulations, the Department notes that the regulations should work with the newly released regulations for the ESSA. For guidance on addressing teacher diversity in schools, the Department encourages referencing the non-regulatory guidance on ESSA Title II, Part A, Building Systems of Support for Excellent Teaching and Leading.  

And, the Department expects institutions and states to need help updating their existing data collection and reporting systems to bring them into compliance.  At this point, technical assistance questions can be sent to until a technical assistance provider is named by the Department. 

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