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Reflecting Back to Move Equity in Education Forward

TMarvin Lynnhis article originally appeared in Diverse Issues in Higher Education and is reprinted with permission.

As we embark upon a new year, it is important for education leaders to reflect on 2020 in order to assess what we got right, determine what went wrong, and then set a course for a more equitable education for all students in 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic illuminated the multiple and complex inequalities that exist in our schools. In remote learning environments, students who were already disengaged from school, in some cases, became more detached and harder to reach, particularly the population of historically underserved and marginalized PK-12 students. Undergraduate programs in higher education experienced similar issues, as some students felt more marginalized and isolated due to not being in classrooms. The pandemic has taught us that educator preparation programs must instill in teacher candidates the importance of building relationships. If educators don’t develop healthy and sound relationships based upon mutual trust with their students, then it’s harder to teach—and definitely harder to reach—those students for whom school is not a positive experience.

The Financial Crossroad of Teacher Education

Teacher wearing mask in classroom

Administrators and faculty of educator preparation programs (EPPs) have long been concerned about the challenge of attracting students to a profession where college affordability and financial compensation discourages them from pursuing teaching as a career. However, due to the pandemic, the concern is growing. Our nation’s educational system is at a critical crossroad where teacher shortages and budget cuts are colliding. On one hand we have teachers who are retiring early amid health concerns or being furloughed, and on the other hand, we have EPPs with shrinking programs and enrollment. This is the perfect storm many education leaders have feared, and the impact will be acute if we do not find ways to encourage diverse and talented students to enter a career in education.

To start, we need to address the financial challenges that future educators face, including a high student loan debt to earnings ratio and lack of awareness of scholarships and loan forgiveness at the federal, state, and university levels. Recently, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) released the Issue Brief, How Do Education Students Pay for College?, based upon data from the 2015-16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). According to the data, by the time education students graduate, 76% of them have taken student loans, and the average amount they borrow is nearly $28,000.

Desperate Circumstances Prompt a Desperate Call on Congress

COVID-19 outbreak impact This month, AACTE joined like-minded institutions in writing a letter to congressional leaders in updating their earlier findings regarding four key COVID-19-related economic indicators that are placing significant financial burdens on higher educational institutions. The emergence of more detailed data regarding these four categories (enrollment, student financial need, auxiliary revenues, and new expenditures) revealed the troubling truth that our prior estimates about the impact of COVID-19 on the economic health of educational institutions was significantly underestimated and that the challenges students and schools are facing are far more severe than initially thought.  

As a consequence of these updated findings, AACTE signed on to a new letter urging Congress and the Administration to finalize negotiations as quickly as possible on a supplemental spending bill of sufficient size to provide at least $120 billion in needed support to students and campuses across the country. The detailed new findings described in the letter, while suggesting a potentially long, painful economic road ahead for some higher ed, provides a detailed and illuminating accounting of the many ways COVID-19 is burdening enrollment, student aid, and revenues at institutions of higher learning around the country.

Webinar Recap: How Do Students Pay for College

A growing body of research suggests that concerns about compensation generally—and about being able to repay student loans in particular—are dissuading college students from choosing teaching as a career. To help AACTE members better understand the financial pressures impacting education students, a new issue brief takes a detailed look at how students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education pay for college, including the costs they face and the financial sources they tap to meet those expenses. 

During AACTE’s webinar “How Do Students Pay for College,” author Jacqueline King and Jane West discussed the implications of these findings, as well as recommendations for campus practice and federal policy.

King began the webinar by explaining, “Student financing of education feels archaic and arcane … can be kind of intimidating.” To help those who were unable to join this webinar, outlined below are specific parts of the online discussion that may address some of your most pressing concerns around financing teacher candidate education. Access the recording at aacte.org. 

AACTE Sends Policy Priorities to Biden-Harris Education Transition Team

Hand writing Policy List with red markerThe nation’s transition to the 46th presidential administration are underway. AACTE provided the Biden-Harris Administration’s Education Transition Team with its policy priorities for the coming year. Much of AACTE’s priorities stem from its advocacy throughout the year to increase the federal investment in education in PK-20, with a specific focus on recruiting and sustaining candidates in its education preparation programs.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, educator preparation stands at a dangerous crossroad. The college and university programs that prepare our teachers, principals, school counselors, and other essential education professionals are experiencing a debilitating wave of closures and faculty layoffs.

Dr. Jill Biden — Next First Lady and Educator

This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and is reprinted with permission.

Jill Biden“American educators — It is a great day for y’all.” I was struck by this sentiment that was shared by President-elect Joe Biden in his speech to the nation on the evening of Nov. 7. Biden was referring to his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, a community college professor in Virginia. Dr. Biden spent her career as an educator and, now as first lady, will bring the focus of education directly into the White House. It indeed was a welcomed sentiment, particularly for public education, including pre-K-12 schools and higher education.

However, this is not the first time former educators have occupied the White House. Ten former presidents had some type of teaching experience in their backgrounds. For example, President Lyndon B. Johnson was a dedicated history teacher. Many first ladies also had teaching experience in their pasts, including Laura Bush, who was a teacher and a librarian.

But somehow, this feels quite different with Dr. Biden. Perhaps one can attribute the difference to the serious issue the pandemic has caused for educators across the nation. Young children to college-age students have felt the impact of online teaching and the disruption of what once was considered normal schooling for them.

What Can We Expect for Education with a Biden-Harris Administration?

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Welcome to the world of President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris.

What Might a Biden Presidency Mean for Education?

When President-elect Joe Biden told the nation that educators will have “one of their own” in the White House, a sigh of relief and a whiff of optimism were palpable among the education community. Referring to his wife, Jill Biden—a long time community college professor—he also said that “teaching isn’t just what she does, it’s who she is.”  Thus, the president-elect sets the tone for the next four years of one of the most pro-education administrations in our lifetimes.

Biden named his transition teams this week, including the one for education. Led by Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the Learning Policy Institute and former head of the Obama Administration education transition team, the group is comprised of a number of former Obama appointees as well as union leaders. The team is working on compiling both potential nominees for political positions in the Department of Education as well as fleshing out policy priorities and a timeline. 

Grow Your Career with Help from the AACTE Career Center

A group of professionals smiling

As an AACTE member you have most likely accessed educator preparation resources, attended webinars or downloaded presentations via the AACTE Resource Library, but have you visited the online Career Center?

The AACTE Career Center is your one-stop shop for teacher education students and professionals. Whether you are a seasoned educator searching for the best fit, a student embarking on your career journey, or an educator preparation provider seeking highly-qualified talent, the Career Center’s job board and resume resources are here to help. The Career Center features

  • 700+ employer profiles
  • 500+ job seeker profiles
  • 9,000+ positions

COVID-19 Education Coalition Releases IHE Resources

Learning Keeps Going CoalitionIn early spring of 2020, AACTE joined ISTE’s LearningKeepsGoing Coalition. The Coalition subcommittees include Higher Education, of which I co-chair along with AACTE Innovation and Technology Committee Co-Chair David Slykhuis.

Each subcommittee developed resources that address the COVID19 pandemic in our nation’s public schools. The Coalition recently released two new resources for Institutions of Higher Education Educator Prep Programs and teacher candidates! The resources target different audiences. The student agency infographic is a resource for educator candidates and educator preparation faculty. As colleges and universities develop online course offerings, candidates are faced with learning how to access and benefit from online instruction. The infographic begins by amplifying five areas of student agency. Ten strategies guide students to advocate for online learning supports, use their own assets, and seek our mentors, to name a few. Students can also take an online learning readiness assessment to determine their preparedness for online instruction. Educator preparation faculty and staff are encouraged to disseminate this infographic to candidates who are learning online.

AACTE Issue Briefs Examine Education Degrees Trends and Future Implications for Teacher Workforce

Degree Trends in High-Demand Teaching Specialties: 2009-10 to 2018-19Institutions Offering Degrees in Education: 2009-10 to 2018-1

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) released today two new issue briefs, Institutions Offering Degrees in Education: 2009-10 to 2018-19 and Degree Trends in High-Demand Teaching Specialties: 2009-10 to 2018-19. The reports examine education trends through an analysis of the number of institutions awarding degrees in education and the imminent threat of increased teacher shortages , particularly in high-demand areas. The findings raise significant concerns about the nation’s future capacity to produce new teachers and other education professionals to meet the diverse needs of students, families, and communities.

The Institutions Offering Degrees in Education report describes the number of institutions awarding degrees in education from 2009-10 to 2018-19, and offers a table listing of institutions awarding any degree in education by state and institution type during this period. It reveals that, while the number of institutions offering degrees in education has been stable, the number of institutions with small programs, defined as awarding 30 or fewer degrees and certificates annually, rose by 21%. These institutions currently make up one-third of all colleges and universities awarding education degrees. Of critical importance is that the average number of education graduates across all institution types fell by 24% from 2009-10 to 2018-19.

2020 Teacher Quality Partnership Grantees Announced

Teacher Quality PartnershipThe Department of Education has awarded 23 grants administered as a of part of a pool of funding created to benefit programs including the Teaching Quality Partnership Program (TQP).  Of the 10 grants awarded under Teacher Quality Partnerships program—totaling $7.3 million—six of the grantees are AACTE members.

The 23 grants, totaling nearly $100 million, will promote educator development and training in alignment with a signature economic initiative of the Administration. The grants are designed to contribute to the enhancement of the professional development and effectiveness of teachers and principals.  Each of the awards went to schools or nonprofits that connect in some way with economic Opportunity Zones to serve economically distressed or underserved communities around the country. 

The Teacher Quality Partnership grant program, authorized in Title II of the Higher Education Act, is the only federal initiative designed to strengthen and reform educator preparation at institutions of higher education. Strongly supported by AACTE, TQP grants support the preparation of profession-ready teachers for high-need schools and high-need subject areas. Under this program, partnerships between institutions of higher education and high-need schools and districts compete for funding to develop master’s-level residency programs or to reform undergraduate preservice preparation programs.

AACTE Issue Brief Explores Financial Challenges Facing Future Teachers

How Do Education Students Pay for College?The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) released today its latest issue brief, How Do Education Students Pay for College? The report provides colleges of education a closer look at the financial pressures impacting education students, by type of institution attended and by student race and ethnicity, through a detailed examination of the costs they face and the financial sources they use to pay those expenses. The findings reveal the financial challenges future educators will face and the financial disincentives to pursuing a teaching career, especially for students of color. It also supports the necessity of compensating educators fairly, in particular novice teachers who may be most burdened by student loan debt.

“The global pandemic has deepened the national teacher shortage crisis. It is critical now more than ever to recruit diverse, talented people into the teaching profession, which requires our nation’s leaders to revamp policies and practices that make college affordable and increase teacher compensation,” said Lynn M. Gangone, president and CEO of AACTE.

Navigating the COVID-19 Maze

This article originally appeared in University Business and is reprinted with permission.

College graduate

Photo by Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash

At the onset of the 2020-21 academic year, the educational system is in a coronavirus maze, wherein the turns are constantly changing, and the end seems out of sight. While state education departments, school districts and educator preparation programs (EPPs) are prepared—whether in class, online, or a hybrid of both—the pandemic reminds us how unpredictable the road ahead may be. Recently, some schools in the United States that reopened for in-class instruction have reversed their plans due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Join AACTE Webinar: Explore Financial Challenges Facing Teacher Candidates, Implications for EPPs

How do Education Students Pay for CollegeThere is a growing body of research suggesting that concerns about compensation generally—and about being able to repay student loans in particular—are dissuading college students from choosing teaching as a career. These financial concerns have only been exacerbated by COVID-19 and its attendant financial crisis.

To help members better understand the financial pressures impacting education students, AACTE has released the new How Do Education Students Pay for College? issue brief that takes a detailed look at how students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education pay for college, including the costs they face and the financial sources they tap to meet those expenses. 

On Wednesday, October 21 from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET, AACTE will host a webinar on this important topic. As the issue brief’s author, I will review the research findings, and I’ll be joined by AACTE consultant Jane West for a discussion of the implications of these findings for campus practice and federal policy.  West will also share AACTE’s priorities for strengthening aid to future educators in federal appropriations bills as well as the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. 

The one-hour session will feature time for questions and discussion.

Register now. 

Digitalachia Podcast – Higher Education Responds to Digital Learning Needs

The following article features a podcast interview with AACTE’s Jacqueline Rodriguez addressing higher education’s strategies to ensure teacher and educator candidates access and benefit from the digital learning environment. 

Jacqueline Rodriguez and Robert Brown

The Digitalachia Podcast hosted by Robert Brown of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) welcomed  Jacqueline Rodriquez, vice president of research, policy, and advocacy with the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE).  The topic of discussion is higher education and incorporating virtual and blended learning models in the digital world.

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