Congratulations to the four newest recipients of federal Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants! Coppin State University (MD), North Carolina A&T State University, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of West Alabama will share more than $5 million to improve the preparation of teachers through partnerships with 13 high-need, rural school districts.
The U.S. Department of Education yesterday announced the new 5-year grants, which will be divided among two partnerships with a prebaccalaureate preparation model and two others with residency-based models:
On Friday, September 23, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to the presidents of certain institutions that are eligible for TEACH grants, announcing a change in eligibility requirements. If you are at one of these institutions, a response must be filed with the Department within 30 days of the letter – meaning by October 23.
Previously, institutions could offer the grants if their programs held either (a) specialized accreditation awarded through a Department-recognized agency or (b) state approval plus a requirement of at least 10 weeks of full-time preservice clinical experience and pedagogical course work. The letter (see PDF) explains that effective September 22, the Department no longer recognizes any national accreditor for educator preparation programs, eliminating option (a) as a qualifier for eligibility.
As Congress returns from recess, so do the Federal Update webinars offered each month for AACTE members. This month’s update will be held September 20 and 21.
Each month, I’ll update you on what is happening in Washington, DC, related to educator preparation, and discuss how you can engage in advocacy for the profession. To accommodate a variety of schedules, each set of webinars is offered on consecutive days of the week at different times of the day.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations marked up the FY17 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) funding bill. This was the last of the 12 appropriations bills to be marked up by the full committee prior to the congressional recess.
During the markup, members of the committee submitted 32 amendments seeking to restore or increase funding to programs, clarify language, or repeal policy riders. Of key interest to educator preparation is an amendment offered by Representative David Price (D-NC) to restore funding for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grants, the only federal grant program designed to reform and strengthen teacher preparation across the nation. (See our fact sheet for an overview of the TQP grant program.) The son of two teachers, Price spoke passionately of his support for the TQP program and the work of grantees to strengthen teacher preparation. Unfortunately, this amendment failed, but the chairman of the subcommittee, Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), committed to further conversations on the matter as the appropriations process unfolds.
Ask any new teacher what part of their preparation was most important, and the answer will almost always be the final clinical component—the student teaching, internship, or residency experience. But while everyone seems to agree that high-quality clinical experience is critical to high-quality preparation, a persistent set of challenges have stood in the way of widespread implementation: identifying excellent clinical faculty, providing adequate time in clinical placements, and helping candidates, particularly those of limited means, navigate the full-time demands of unpaid student teaching or internships.
The National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education released a set of white papers earlier this month exploring aspects of the fiscal issues facing higher education. Designed to guide policy and funding decisions, these papers (and another six still in development) provide a revealing look at the state and national funding landscape for institutions.
The commission, a project of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, has been working since 2014 on policy and funding recommendations for the United States to reach the goal of 60% of the labor workforce having a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. Currently, the nation is not on target to meet this goal and faces numerous related challenges, from high school graduation rates and access to higher education to workforce underdevelopment. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, other nations are meeting or surpassing the United States in postsecondary degree and credentialing rates.
Last month, AACTE held a briefing in Washington, DC, on the Teacher Quality Partnership grant program. Titled “Investing in Solutions,” the briefing featured several grant recipients from New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia in order to showcase the program to congressional staff and members of the higher education community. One of the featured grantees, New Jersey’s Newark-Montclair Urban Teacher Residency (NMUTR), shared lessons and best practices published in the recent book A Year in the Life of a Third Space Urban Teacher Residency: Using Inquiry to Reinvent Teacher Education. I invited the book’s authors, Monica Taylor and Emily J. Klein of Montclair State University, to highlight some of these lessons for Ed Prep Matters:
The U.S. Department of Education has announced a new competition for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant program. After consultations with tribal communities and officials, the Department has designed this grant cycle to focus on improving the outcomes of students in tribal and rural populations.
For this competition, the Department expects to award three to five grants averaging $1 million each. Interested parties have until June 22 to submit their notice of intent to apply; completed applications are due by July 7.
On February 9, President Obama released the final budget request of his presidency, a request for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17). Next, Congress will respond with its own budget followed by the appropriations process—when lawmakers can choose to implement the president’s request or parts of it, or move forward on their own priorities. With the Congress under control of the Republicans during this presidential election year, the president’s request is unlikely to receive much focus.
The budget request for the U.S. Department of Education is $69.4 billion for FY17, a 2% increase over the FY16 level. The administration again proposes to eliminate the Teacher Quality Partnerships—the only federal grant program focused on strengthening and improving teacher preparation programs—replacing it with the Teacher and Principal Pathways programs. The administration also proposes to eliminate the TEACH grants in 2021 and increase loan forgiveness for teachers in high-need schools.
The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
In December 2015, I published an op-ed in the Washington Post in which I discussed my concerns with some of the teacher education provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). I focused my comments on a section within the law that gives states the authority to use some of their Title II funds to establish “teacher preparation academies.” These academies would, in my opinion, lower standards for preparing teachers and would also support a general downward spiral in standards beyond the academies that would weaken public education.
The academies provision is the most prescriptive option under Title II and could require states to change laws that would lower standards for teacher education programs. For example, if states choose to support teacher preparation academies, then they would not be allowed to place any “unnecessary restrictions on the methods of the academy” which includes requiring faculty to have advanced degrees or placing any restrictions on undergraduate or professional course work. While it is not certain that programs with lower standards would be funded under the academy provision, this option opens the door to that possibility.