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Reflecting Back on 2022; Looking Forward to 2023

Greetings! As we are entering the final months of 2022 and AACTE is strategically planning for the year ahead, I wanted to share some prodigious achievements we have made over the year and updates from our recent Board of Directors’ meeting.

Given the scope and scale of the teacher shortage, at the Board of Directors’ meeting, we determined that we should evaluate all current and new opportunities based on whether they will contribute to increasing enrollment in educator preparation programs. We are calling this our “North Star.” The strategic priorities of the association won’t change. Still, we will emphasize the near term on addressing the teacher shortage, understanding that by doing so thoughtfully and carefully, we can advance our priorities in advocacy, DEI, and advancing educator prep policy, practice, and research. I am also pleased that our Strategic Priority, “Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” has been changed to “Prioritizing DEI” because it better reflects AACTE’s emphasis on racial and social justice and equity.

It has been an extremely productive year regarding AACTE’s programs, publications, and partnerships.

The following are updates on AACTE’s research, policy, and advocacy:

AACTE is a founding member of the Pathways Alliance and a member of the working group that recently released a national definition for Teacher Residencies. The report makes an essential contribution to the field by defining high-quality residencies.

AACTE is also co-chairing a working group for the Pathways Alliance with Deans for Impact and the National Center for Grow Your Own to develop National Guidelines Standards (NGS) for Teaching Apprenticeships. The NGS, a Department of Labor tool, is a framework that will guide states in developing apprenticeship applications.

AACTE, both accreditors, SITE (Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education), ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), and the Department of Education’s Office for Educational Technology launched a national Educator Preparation Program for Digital Equity and Transformation PLEDGE. More than 60 universities have signed on to PLEDGE, and AACTE is actively recruiting additional members to commit to integrating technology throughout educator preparation programs.

AACTE’s Consortium for Research-based and Equitable Assessments (CREA) recently concluded. Along with the project’s framing paper and research findings, a final report will provide guidelines and recommendations for EPPs, policymakers, and test developers to promote equitable requirements for entry into EPPs and cut scores that are informed by research and evidence and meet the current needs of the profession. The 15 institutions that participated in CREA have already made state policy changes to create more equitable environments for their students.

AACTE commissioned a report that contextualizes the censorship crisis for educator preparation, entitled The State of Education Censorship in Institutions of Higher Ed and Implications for the Field. Funding has been set aside for follow-up resources, some of which may be completed in collaboration with PEN America’s Higher Education coalition members to address censorship through TAGS and committees. We are most excited to explore whether and how this climate of academic censorship exacerbates the teacher shortage crisis.

By the end of the year, we will have produced three webinars on academic censorship covering book banning, educator field stakeholder perspectives, and coverage of the new censorship report. The first of these webinars is on October 25. The Divisive Issues Working Group has developed a series of internal talking points covering the major themes of academic censorship. We will be updating these as the situation evolves.

AACTE has commissioned a white paper to examine the conditions for Asian/Pacific Islander faculty and leadership in EPPs and recommendations for meeting the diversification needs of the field. We are elevating member voices to speak to the needs of diverse educators and students during Black History, National Women’s, AANHPI Heritage, and PRIDE month. Through these diversity celebration initiatives, we are gaining a coalition of thought partners and collaborators for future endeavors.

Finally, check out the report on higher education alternative preparation programs that AACTE co-published with the Center for American Progress. It contains critical information on the rapid growth of these programs and on their negative impact on addressing the teacher shortage. Later this fall, we will release a companion report that paints a more positive picture of university-based alternative preparation programs.

State Policy

Following up on a key recommendation of the Board task force on state affiliates, staff are working with the AACTE Advisory Council of State Representatives (ACSR) Executive Committee to produce a first-ever fall State Leaders Institute on November 1.

This event will focus on developments in vital areas such as the teacher shortage and workforce diversity. This Leaders Institute provides hands-on, real-time advocacy strategies and resources shared by our state affiliate colleagues around the country.

The staff and I are making the rounds of fall state conferences, speaking at meetings held by the California, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, and New Jersey state affiliates.

State policy leaders have a new online forum on AACTE Connect360 where they can share resources and collaborate in real-time on issues of common concern.

Many of our state affiliates are actively advocating on issues including alternative preparation and the diminution of teacher hiring and licensure standards, academic censorship, anti-LGBTQIA+ policies, and assessments for program entry and exit. We are working to support their efforts.

Federal Policy

In late August, AACTE was “at the table” with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden as I joined the Secretaries of Education and Labor, representatives from the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the presidents of the teachers’ unions, at the White House to elevate solutions to the teacher shortage. AACTE’s work on apprenticeships and “Grow Your Own” programs through the Pathways Alliance showed our association’s work to find real-time solutions to the teacher candidate shortage.

Cementing AACTE’s position as the industry’s leading voice in educator preparation, so far this year we have had more than 8,300 media mentions, with an estimated reach of 14.8 billion people. That is more than twice as many mentions as last year. AACTE was featured in top publications, including the New York Times, CNN, MSN, Forbes, the Washington Post, and education industry media, such as Inside Higher Education and Education Week. Your collective voices are being heard.

Below are some fundamental pieces of federal legislation that AACTE has endorsed and is tracking:

  • The Educators for America Act, which we have discussed in the past, updates and dramatically expands federal support for educator preparation.

  • DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Senator Coons (D-DE), and Senator Cornyn (R-TX) have introduced Civics Secures Democracy Act. This bipartisan initiative will support states and local school districts in offering the civics education needed to equip youth in the United States with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to become informed and engaged members of society. It would create a variety of grants to states, nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and civics education researchers to support and expand access to civics and history education. AACTE has endorsed this bill.

  • Most recently, AACTE endorsed the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act to expand the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. The bill helps address educator shortages across the country and increases children’s access to a diverse and well-prepared educator workforce.

It is affirming to reflect on all we have accomplished this last year, and we have all set the bar even higher looking toward 2023. Thank you for your partnership and support in AACTE’s ongoing efforts to further education preparation. Our voices united together can initiate change to benefit education and our society. I look forward to seeing you in Indianapolis for #AACTE23, our 75th anniversary!

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Lynn M. Gangone

President and CEO, AACTE