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New teacher prep rules face uncertain future in schools

Obama administration regulations require states to provide a lot of data
States have to create education reporting systems during the 2016-17 school year, run pilots in the 2017-18 year, and begin implementing in the 2018-19 year. (GettyImages.com: DragonImages)
States have to create education reporting systems during the 2016-17 school year, run pilots in the 2017-18 year, and begin implementing in the 2018-19 year. (GettyImages.com: DragonImages)

A new accountability and data collection system that the U.S. Department of Education proposed for teacher preparation programs last fall already faces challenges. 

Regulations proposed under the Obama administration to improve transparency around teacher preparation require states to provide a lot of data—including placement and retention rates, feedback from graduates and employers, student learning outcomes, and teacher evaluation results. But it’s unclear whether the Trump administration will maintain the policy.  

“There’s no question that states have the autonomy to do this and set the standards—the issue is that teacher evaluation standards are often set very differently,” says Christopher Koch, president of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. 

State laws also vary regarding information disclosure, Koch says. For example, Kansas restricts sharing data, but North Carolina shares more information with other states and school districts, which can help when it comes to assessing potential out-of-system teaching candidates. 

Whether it’s a traditional, alternative or distance-preparation program, regulations will require states to categorize programs as effective, at-risk or low-performing. 

Programs that receive the lowest rating must receive additional state support, while only programs designated as “effective” will be eligible for federal TEACH grants. The rules would also benefit school administrators looking to fill teaching vacancies by creating common standards between states. 

Administrators hiring from other states will have a better sense of how prepared a candidate is compared to the teachers educated under in-state programs. “Anything that helps move programs toward some sort of common quality assurance is a really good move for the country and the states,” says Koch.

“If you’re bringing in candidates who don’t have mastery of content that they’re expected to teach, because they were from a place with low selectivity, that’s highly consequential to a K12 learner.”

Under the new rules, states have to create reporting systems during the 2016-17 school year, run pilots in the 2017-18 year, and begin implementing in the 2018-19 year.