January 2016 State Policy Recap

Over the past month, 35 state legislatures have convened for their 2016 legislative session—and it’s already been a productive year. Since January 1, nearly as many state bills related to educator preparation have been introduced as in all of 2015. In 2015, about 150 such bills were introduced; during January 2016, there were 133, introduced in 33 state legislatures. The states with the most bills proposed so far are New Jersey, Oklahoma, Iowa, Florida, and Michigan. Some of the common topics addressed in the bills include modifying teacher certification/licensure standards as related to teacher shortages and alternative routes to certification, investing in scholarships and loan forgiveness for teachers, and mandating training for teachers to support students with dyslexia as a requirement for licensure.

In addition, since the New Year, 34 state regulations have been proposed in 17 states related to educator preparation. The vast majority of the proposed state regulations relate to streamlining or clarifying teacher certification standards.

State Chapter Activities

State chapters played a pivotal role in partnering and sharing resources with state legislators and other policy makers on key educator preparation topics. In recent weeks, at least 12 state chapters have participated in meetings with state legislators or their staff. Furthermore, several chapters have been solicited by state legislative staff for information and resources in drafting state legislation related to educator preparation. For example, the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education submitted testimony expressing concerns (available here) on proposed state legislation that would lower teacher licensing standards.

It is critical for AACTE members and state chapters to connect with their state legislators and education agencies to provide input during the legislative and regulatory processes. For many state legislatures, the time in session is very brief (such as 30 or 60 days). To ensure you don’t miss this tight time frame, make sure you contact your state legislators as soon as possible (and check this 2016 state legislature chart to see when your state legislature meets).

State chapters and AACTE members can utilize our new state policy tracker to see what has been proposed so far in any state. If you are looking for contact information, consult AACTE’s state-by-state contact list of key state policy makers. Please also use AACTE’s state policy principles document as a resource to help frame your advocacy for state policy affecting educator preparation.

If your state chapter has engaged in a recent state policy activity (hosting a State Day on the Hill, meeting with state legislators, submitting testimony on proposed policy, etc.), please let us know—we’d like to share your story! We are also eager to provide you with any needed support or guidance.

If you have any questions related to AACTE’s state policy resources or how you can utilize them in your state advocacy activities, contact me at agoldstein@aacte.org or (202) 478-4504.

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Aaron Goldstein

Manager, State Policy & Relations