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Department of Education Releases Regulations on Teacher Prep, Guidances Soon to Follow

Department of Education Releases Regulations on Teacher Prep, Guidances Soon to Follow

The U.S. Department of Education has released 695 pages of regulations aimed at improving teacher preparation programs in the U.S. to in turn produce more effective teachers.

Some of the bigger takeaways from the lengthy regulations include a new requirement for states to report annual measures determined to indicate program effectiveness.

These measures are defined by the Department of Education as:

  • Placement and retention rates of graduates in their first three years of teaching, including placement and retention in high-need schools;
  • Feedback from graduates and their employers on the effectiveness of program preparation;
  • Student learning outcomes measured by novice teachers' student growth, teacher evaluation results, and/or another state-determined measure that is relevant to students' outcomes, including academic performance, and meaningfully differentiates amongst teachers; and
  • Other program characteristics, including assurances that the program has specialized accreditation or graduates candidates with content and pedagogical knowledge, and quality clinical preparation, who have met rigorous exit requirements. Using these measures, states must now categorize programs as either effective, at-risk or low-performing and are required to assist programs ranked as low-performing.

Under the new regulations, for programs to continue to receive the federal assistance provided by TEACH grants, they must now be ranked as effective for two to three years prior to receiving the funding.

One of the more controversial components of the extensive regulations is the lack of rigorous entrance standards; instead, the Department only requires programs to have “a high bar to exit."

"The Department removed the requirement that states ensure that programs maintain a high bar of selectivity for students to enter the program, so long as they maintain a high bar to exit, to allow programs to recruit a more diverse student body while maintaining the requirements for quality preparation as shown by graduation,” the Department said.

As for a timeline, states must begin designing new reporting systems this year, with the option to pilot the system in 2017-2018 under the expectation of full implementation by 2018-19.

"The first year for which any program might lose TEACH grant eligibility will be 2021-2022,” the Department said.

A series of non-regulatory guidances providing further clarification on the 695 pages of regulations are soon to follow.

This sweeping federal regulation of teacher preparation programs comes at the tail-end of the Obama administration after years of demand for reform.

The most recent critique came just earlier this month from former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who said the average U.S. teacher preparation program "lacks rigor, is out of step with the times, and is given to extreme grade inflation that leaves teachers unprepared and their future students at risk.”

"Lowering our expectations not only does a disservice to the teaching candidates in these programs, but also to the students they’ll soon teach. We owe it to them to challenge our future teachers,” Duncan said.

Read the Department of Education’s announcement of the regulations here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

10/13/2016

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