Department of Ed Approves State Plans for Excellent Educators

United States Department of Education approvals continue apace for its "Excellent Educators for All" initiative. This week, ED approved the plans submitted by 17 states as well as the District of Columbia. That follows on approval last month of plans from 16 states. What the plans spell out is how each state will go about addressing access to "great teachers," particularly among the lowest-performing schools that need them the most.

The latest program was first announced in July 2014, and the plans were required by June 2015. However, these aren't an entirely new concept. At least some portion of the plans were first introduced in 2006 and required by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The latest iteration of the program has three aspects:

  • Educator equity plans. States must analyze their data and consult with educators and parents to create new equity plans for putting "locally developed" solutions in place to ensure every student has "effective educators."
  • An educator equity support network. ED promised to launch a new technical assistance network to support states and districts in developing and implementing their plans. That network was to offer model plans and provides communities of practice for educators.
  • Educator equity profiles. States were to receive "complete data" from the Civil Rights Data Collection, enabling them to conduct analysis about local inequities as part of designing strategies to address them, such as "7 percent of teachers in high-poverty schools are in their first year, whereas 4 percent of teachers in low-poverty schools are in their first year." The profiles would also "shine a spotlight" on places where high-need schools are "beating the odds and successfully recruiting and retaining effective educators."

According to ED, 11 of the states whose plans were in the latest round of approval are increasing their use of data-driven decision-making. For example, Tennessee is providing new and more frequent reports, including a "Human Capital Data Report" to its schools and districts to help them make informed staffing decisions.

Other aspects of the new plans address the use of incentives to reward teachers for their exceptional work. Arizona, as an example, is considering the use of salary increases, social support services, housing allowances and teacher-leadership opportunities "to draw the most effective teachers to the most remote and challenging schools." In North Dakota, teachers are given "easily accessible information about loan forgiveness" and may get a signing bonus for going to the areas that are hardest to staff.

Teacher preparation programs include Alabama's "Professional Pathways for Alabama Teachers," certification system that exposes career development pathways for educators, both new and experienced.

The Department is currently reviewing the remaining state plans to determine whether they meet all of the requirements set in ESEA and stated that it would continue making determinations regarding the plans "on a rolling basis." All of the plans are available on the Department of Education site.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.