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AACTE Statement on Federal Award of 2014 Teacher Quality Partnership Grants

AACTE is thrilled that the U.S. Department of Education last week announced the awarding of a new round of Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants, the federal government’s only investment in reforming teacher preparation. With grants totaling more than $35 million to 24 partnerships in the first year alone, these awards will assist to recruit, train, and support more than 11,000 educators in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

AACTE is pleased by the administration’s recognition of the value of continued federal investment in higher education-based teacher preparation programs. Many AACTE member institutions have benefited from TQP funding since the program’s inception in 2009, and the new round of grants expands the reach to more institutions and their partner schools.

Congress Tackles Appropriations, HEA in Advance of Recess, Elections

It’s an election year – the full U.S. House of Representatives and one third of the U.S. Senate are up for re-election – which makes for interesting legislative times. Elections are just 4 months out, and we have about 7 legislative weeks left in the 113th Congress.

The primary season has essentially ended, and we’ve seen some shockers – including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) losing his primary election and subsequently resigning his leadership position. As we approach the August recess and fall election season, some important work is under way in both the House and the Senate.

Notice of TQP Funding Opportunity: Applications Due July 15

Updated to reflect new application deadline.

Applications are now available for a new slate of Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants, the federal government’s only investment in reforming teacher preparation in institutions of higher education. Interested applicants will have to act quickly, though—the deadline for letters of intent is June 27, and full applications are due July 15.

Last week, in the Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the availability of approximately $35 million in new awards for fiscal year 2014 under the TQP grant program.

Department of Education to Move Forward With Teacher Preparation Regulations

On Friday at Dunbar High School in Washington, DC, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz announced movement on long-overdue teacher preparation regulations. These regulations are the successor to the spring 2012 negotiated rule making held by the Department of Education, which failed to reach consensus after several tumultuous sessions.

Joined on a panel at Friday’s event by Jim Cibulka (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation), Camilla Benbow (Vanderbilt University, TN), Chris Minnich (Council of Chief State School Officers), Kaya Henderson (District of Columbia Public Schools), Elisa Villanueva Beard (Teach For America), and Secretary Duncan, Muñoz said the regulations are “something that the president has a real sense of urgency about.”

Coalition for Teaching Quality Submits Commentary on HQT Data Collection

Tomorrow, April 18, is the deadline for public comment on the proposed “highly qualified teacher” (HQT) data collection by the U.S. Department of Education. A detailed letter submitted yesterday by the Coalition for Teaching Quality hails the proposed collection as “an important first step towards meeting the legislative intent” of Congress’ directive to report on the extent to which students in certain high-need categories are taught by teachers who are labeled as “highly qualified,” but who are actually teachers-in-training in alternative routes. 

Senate Hearing on Teacher Prep Examines Data Collection, TQP Grants

On March 25, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) convened the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) to consider changes to Title II of the Higher Education Act (HEA), the portion of the law that addresses teacher preparation. This was the seventh hearing in a series in the Senate on HEA reauthorization.

The predominant theme of the hearing was concern that the Title II data reporting requirements for teacher preparation programs are out of date, onerous, and not useful for program improvement. All five witnesses agreed on this point and offered recommendations for change.

U.S. House Hearing Scrutinizes Teacher Preparation

On February 27, the U.S. House subcommittee on elementary and secondary education and the subcommittee on higher education held a hearing titled “Exploring Efforts to Strengthen the Teaching Profession.”

Witnesses included Marcy Singer-Gabella, professor of the Practice of Education at Vanderbilt University (TN), along with two officials from state departments of education and the director of an alternative-route program.

Federal Spending Bill Maintains Investment in Educator Preparation

Last week, President Obama signed an omnibus spending bill funding the government through the end of the fiscal year. This $1.1 trillion plan restores approximately two thirds ($1.6 billion) of the cuts made to the U.S. Department of Education in last year’s sequestration.

Perhaps most important to educator preparation programs, the omnibus maintains funding for Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants, which fund partnerships between institutions of higher education and high-need school districts to create clinical and/or residency programs at the prebaccalaureate or graduate level. This means that the U.S. Department of Education will fund a new round of grants to partnerships seeking to reform teacher preparation programs. Stay tuned for more updates from AACTE on how to apply for this grant funding.

Budget Cuts Threaten Special Education Services, Survey Shows

Recent budget cuts at the federal, state, and local levels are affecting the delivery of special education services for students with disabilities, according to a new survey conducted by the National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services (NCPSSERS), of which AACTE is a member.

The survey of more than 1,000 special education professionals from all 50 states, which was featured in Education Week, shows that the impact of federal, state, and local budget cuts on special education is most evident in an increase in caseload, class size, and reduced professional development opportunities. 

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