A Year in Review: Recapping 2015 State Policy Trends

As 2015 comes to an end, we want to take a moment to reflect on what was a very active year for state policy makers and AACTE state chapters.  

In 2015, state legislators proposed more than 150 bills related to educator preparation. Of these proposed bills, 18 were enacted into law. Some of the highlights of these new state laws are the creation of a new teacher leader endorsement in New Jersey; establishing the Teach Nevada Scholarship Program to incentivize students to pursue teaching degrees in Nevada; prohibiting video recording of classroom teachers in New Hampshire; and modifying teacher licensure standards in Delaware, Illinois, Maine, and Michigan.

State education agencies, meanwhile, proposed more than 180 regulations affecting educator preparation. Over the course of the year, 110 state regulations were adopted. The states with the most regulations adopted were Washington, Kentucky, Texas, Illinois, Oregon, Mississippi, and Iowa. Fifteen states adopted new regulations related to modifying teacher certification requirements, while 13 states adopted new regulations related to requirements for teacher licenses and new standards for teacher licenses.

In addition to this legislative and regulatory activity, several states, including Indiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, convened statewide task forces to address staffing shortages. AACTE chapters in these states were a key resource to policy makers, including legislators, departments of education, and governors. As 46 state legislatures prepare to convene in 2016, be sure to know when your state legislature is in session by consulting this preview of state legislatures’ calendars. To help you plan your advocacy efforts in 2016, take a look at AACTE’s list of key state policy makers. AACTE members and state chapters also can utilize our new state policy tracker, an interactive and user-friendly tool to keep track of pertinent state legislation and regulations.

AACTE staff and state chapter leaders were just as busy this year. In 2015, AACTE staff attended several conferences hosted by national state policy organizations such as the National Conference of State Legislatures, Education Commission of the States, and National Association of State Boards of Education. State policy makers (state legislatures, governor’s office staff, and department of education staff) in 37 states were introduced to AACTE and connected to leaders of AACTE state chapter in their states. 

Through this continuing communication and relationship-building process, AACTE members from Virginia and Maine have been invited by leaders of their state legislature’s education committee to provide testimony during the 2016 legislation sessions. In addition, state chapter leaders and AACTE staff presented at two webinars hosted by the Council of State Governments on topics related to teacher shortages. We anticipate more collaboration will take place in 2016.

With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act giving much policy-making authority back to the states, we expect 2016 will be an even busier year for state policy makers. To provide them with information they need in order to create an environment that is conducive to teaching and learning, it is ever more important that AACTE member institutions take an active role in state advocacy work.

AACTE and its state chapters are committed to providing a platform for a collective voice of the field of educator preparation. We encourage and thank you for your continual participation.

If you have any questions about AACTE’s state policy activities or how AACTE can support your institution or state chapter, please contact us at agoldstein@aacte.org or shsu@aacte.org.

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Aaron Goldstein

Manager, State Policy & Relations

Sungti Hsu

Director of State Affiliate and Partnership Support