Report: New Teacher Prep Rules 'Too Stringent'

Proposed federal changes to teacher preparation requirements have generated numerous comments from education leaders and organizations, and the response doesn't look favorable — at least according to an analysis by Eduventures, a research and consulting firm that analyzes changes taking place in higher education.

In December, the Department of Education proposed new regulations to implement requirements for teacher preparation program accountability, which is part of title II in the Higher Education Act. The goal: to introduce new reporting requirements for states that would lead to the development and distribution of more "meaningful data" on the quality of those programs. If passed, the proposal would require states to assess programs and place them into one of at least four performance levels: low-performing, at-risk, effective and exceptional. (States could choose to use more.)

Those assessments would be developed using a number of indicators. Among them is a requirement that state assessments give student learning outcomes "significant" weighting. To be designated as effective or exceptional, the assessment reporting must show that teachers from a given program have achieved "satisfactory or higher" learning outcomes.

Changes would also be made to the regulations that govern the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program under title IV of the Act and align funding on the quality of the teacher preparation programs.

In its analysis of "thousands" of comments to the proposed regulatory changes, Eduventures has identified five overarching themes:

  • The proposal is a case of "federal overreach": The new rules could constitute an expansion of federal authority into areas typically overseen by states and institutions;
  • There's too much emphasis on student outcomes: "Multiple measures should be used to determine the impact on P-12 learning," the analysis stated;
  • The changes represent a burden on providers and states: Teacher prep programs would have to start reporting to states by October 1, 2017. "Collecting the data to meet these requirements places a high burden of time, capacity and cost on providers," according to comments;
  • There will be major impact on high-need schools and disciplines: Because of the importance of student outcomes in the proposed regulations, the new rules would "drive teachers" into districts with higher test scores, working against "the regulation's goal to drive teacher candidates into high-need fields and low-income schools"; and
  • Federal funding could be at stake: "The overall negative tone of the proposed regulations suggests that providers who are not concerned with meeting certain criteria will be denied access to federal funding," the analysis noted.

"After analyzing comments from many stakeholders who will be impacted by Title II of the Higher Education Act, it is clear that the proposed federal regulations may be too stringent, while the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Prep (CAEP) standards board recommendations may not be stringent enough," said Max Woolf, Eduventures senior research analyst. "Ultimately, the most impactful approach to regulating teacher preparation likely lies somewhere in between."

CAEP is made up of 900 education preparation providers, including colleges and universities and residency programs. The organization has put forward its own set of standards by which to evaluate the programs of its members.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.