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ESSA’s Impact on California and Teacher Preparation: Opportunities for Collaboration

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

With the signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015, there was an intentional shift in power from the federal government to the states when compared with its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act. There is great value in having more autonomy and accountability at the state level, and in many ways California has been ahead of this curve in terms of a strong statewide approach that focuses on local control and multiple measures of effectiveness. Under the leadership of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Chair Linda Darling-Hammond, the state has forged a new path around program quality and assessment, revising its policies and practices to focus on outcomes instead of inputs. In many ways, this shift anticipated what was put into law with ESSA.

An area of the new law that has already prompted great discussion is the mechanism for states to create teacher preparation “academies” that demonstrate a high level of outcomes in terms of PK-12 student achievement. While the development of these academies will not necessarily be appropriate in or embraced by all states, I agree with AACTE President and CEO Sharon Robinson that this new option presents an opportunity for higher education—since the law allows for these academies to be developed in partnership with institutions of higher education. Robinson wrote in a recent Ed Prep Matters article, “I am excited to see innovative educator preparation programs embrace the invitation to develop novel pathways with their local districts and other partners.”

By developing partnerships in collaboration with institutions of higher education, California can ensure that all educator preparation programs in the state are held to the same high standards. This is especially important now given California’s recent teacher shortage—partnerships between institutions of higher education and local districts and other partners are a possible solution to ensuring that all students in California have access to a qualified educator.

Shane P. Martin, Ph.D., is dean and professor in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University (CA).

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Shane P. Martin

Loyola Marymount University