Teacher Preparation

The Obama Administration Department of Education’s 2016 final regulations to create federal rules for teacher education programs maintain many of the flawed constructs from the 2014 proposed rule. Included in the final rule is a teacher preparation performance rating system based on federal criteria, enforced by states, and linked to program eligibility for TEACH Grants. Program quality will not be enhanced by the federal government establishing a profession’s quality standards, and ignoring cutting-edge professional standards.

The bipartisan concern about these regulations has put them on the short list for repeal under the Congressional Review Act.  The House passed H.J. Res. 58, a resolution repealing the regulations, by a vote of 240-181, and the Senate passed the same resolution by a bipartisan vote of 59-40.  President Trump is expected to sign the resolution. 

NAICU submitted a letter to Representatives Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), and a letter to Senator Sasse (R-NE), and the other Senate co-sponsors, in support of the resolution.

About

The education reform movement, data-driven decision-making, state standards-setting, and outcomes-based assessments all come to a confluence in current policy conversations on teacher education. Teacher preparation programs are seen as a key piece in the puzzle of fixing our nation’s K-12 public schools. These programs—whether federally funded or not—are under increased scrutiny to ensure their graduates are high-quality, and the students they teach can perform well on outcomes-based assessments.
 

Overview of 2016 Teacher Preparation Regulations 

When it released the final teacher preparation regulations, the Department highlighted state flexibility and eased back from some of the previously proposed mandates.

Four key points from the final rule: 

  • Value-added metrics are not mandated, but are inherent in suggested program performance evaluations;

  • Some overly prescriptive definitions proposed in draft regulations was tempered, particularly the elimination of “rigorous entry requirements” which would have created a disadvantage for colleges that serve students with lower high-school GPAs or standardized test scores, no matter how strong the institution’s teacher education program;

  • Federal over-reach into institutional quality standards and state control remain a concern; and

  • Overall Title IV institutional eligibility is not at risk because of the outcome measures in teacher education. There has been confusion about whether these regulations put Pell Grant and student loan eligibility at risk for an entire institution. The final regulations will determine the TEACH Grant eligibility of each specific program within an institution’s education school. Only teacher preparation programs deemed low-performing or at-risk, that have also lost state funding or state certification, will be prohibited from enrolling Title IV (Pell and loans) recipients in those programs.

Additional detail and analysis, which tracks against the comments NAICU submitted to the Department in 2015, can be found here.  

What You Can Do

Even without federal regulations, some states will continue building teacher preparation accountability systems. Institutions should continue to work with their states to ensure assessments reflect cutting-edge practices that are useful to state and local stakeholders, for state and local goals. Teacher preparation faculty and administrators, institutional researchers, and state administrators who oversee approval processes should all work collaboratively to develop state accountability systems.  

If your state is building, or considering to build, teacher preparation accountability systems, or is not currently focusing on the issue, it remains important to communicate with your elected officials about your teacher preparation program to:
 
  • Highlight the features that make them effective—such as partnerships with local public schools, or continuous program improvement based on the latest professional research findings.
  • Talk about the many ways your programs have evolved over the last decade, as well as your program’s role in helping to fill local teacher staffing needs.

NAICU Contact

Stephanie Giesecke: Stephanie@NAICU.edu
Top