Apr 06 2016
Washington, D.C.—Today Senators Mark Warner, D-Va., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and John Cornyn, R-Texas introduced The Elevating Educator Preparation through Innovation Act—a bipartisan bill that will improve professional development opportunities for teachers in high-needs school districts.
“The Department of Education estimates that we will need to hire 430,000 new teachers by 2020. We must embrace innovative approaches to teacher preparation in order to meet these human capital needs,” Warner said. “Our proposal supports a diverse and effective teacher workforce by allowing districts greater autonomy in choosing preparation partners and creating a direct link between teachers’ educator preparation and professional development. The Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program has already done incredible work in Virginia. This bill will amplify the program’s impact to serve a broader swath of teachers and students across the Commonwealth.”
“The first few years in the classroom can be overwhelming for many teachers, but we can support them by expanding access to education training programs,” Hatch said. “This bill enables schools in high-needs districts to partner with a broader range of organizations to provide more professional development opportunities for educators and help prepare them for a career in the classroom. Our proposal ensures that teachers have greater access to the resources they need to thrive in their professions and inspire a new generation of Americans.”
“Recruiting and preparing great teachers is critical to ensuring every kid, regardless of their zip code, has access to a quality education,” Bennet said. “Our bipartisan bill provides greater flexibility for school districts to partner with universities and other teacher preparation organizations to help ensure our teachers have the skills they need to teach our kids for the 21st century. This will help teachers grow professionally and give our kids more opportunity for success in the classroom.”
Recent reports and statistics show that new teachers feel increasingly unprepared in the classroom during their first few years of teaching. They often express the need for more classroom experience and support from their preparation programs and colleges. In the current state of educator preparation, progress is stagnant and innovation is limited.
Allowing for More Innovation in Educator Preparation Will Help Elevate the Sector
This legislation affords high-needs school districts the opportunity to forge new partnerships for the Teacher Quality Partnership grants under Title II of the Higher Education Act. It allows districts to choose which educator preparation organization (e.g., a college of education, nonprofit provider, alternative certification provider, etc.) will serve as their primary partner for the grant, based on shortages in teacher areas and qualifications.
This bill also fosters a stronger connection between a teacher’s professional development and induction within the partnership grants. It allows for up to 10 percent of grant funds to be used to create a nexus between a teacher’s clinical experiences and their professional development once placed in a school or district. By strengthening the link between educator preparation and professional development, this bill will help teachers develop in their professions and will support innovation in educator preparation based on district feedback.
Furthermore, this legislation encourages teachers to use both qualitative and quantitative data to improve student achievement and classroom instruction. It also requires the Institute of Educational Sciences to evaluate independently the effectiveness of the Teacher Quality Partnership grants.
Statements of Support
Daniel Weisberg, Chief Executive Officer of TNTP:
“All kids deserve to learn from teachers who can put them on a path for success after high school. The Elevating Educator Preparation through Innovation Act would bring us closer to that goal by sparking a wave of innovation and collaboration in a field that has long been mired in process and compliance. The bill would allow school systems to partner with a much wider range of teacher preparation programs, opening the door to new approaches that will equip more teachers with the skills and expertise they need to help their students succeed. With this new flexibility, school districts could also partner with successful local providers to create new programs designed to match the specific needs of their students--reliable sources of great teachers that could help address teacher shortages over the long run.”
“The landscape of educator preparation has changed dramatically over the last two decades, with 1 in 5 teachers now opting to seek certification through non-traditional routes. Third Way is pleased to see that the Elevating Educator Preparation Through Innovation Act gives districts the ability to establish more meaningful partnerships with a wider range of preparation providers in order to better meet the needs of their teachers and improve the outcomes for the students they serve.”
Allison Riddle, Teacher, Davis School District and 2014 Utah Teacher of the Year:
“With the deeper standards our students must master, it is critical that our pre-service teachers engage in a meaningful clinical experience that will refine their instructional skills. This bill creates a powerful exchange of pedagogical needs between the preparation program and the professional development of our novice teachers.”
Gay Beck, Teacher, Alpine School District and 2011 Utah Teacher of the Year:
“I believe greater innovation in educator preparation can occur when the districts have greater autonomy in choosing their preparation partners. As well, I like the part of the bill that encourages a greater connection between educator preparation and professional development. That connection can make both pieces stronger and give greater support to our new teachers.”
Hope Street Group:
"The Elevating Educator Preparation through Innovation Act provides for more flexibility and ownership for local education agencies (LEAs) with the greatest needs. LEAs are directly impacted by their hiring decisions and should therefore be a partner in the preparation their future staff receives. Simply put, if district leadership support and are involved in selecting preparation programs best aligned with their students' needs, they are more likely to see positive impact on school culture, student outcomes, and teacher retention."
Jill Cullis, Teacher, Aurora Public Schools and 2015 Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow:
“By allowing schools to choose which preparation partner with whom they want to forge a relationship, they are able to choose the specific program which best suits their needs. Conversely, based upon competition, institutions of teacher preparation would be benefiting by creating a stronger pool of teacher candidates and, therefore, be in higher demand. The Elevating Educator Preparation through Innovation Act allows for both of these opportunities and brings the free market concept to education.”
Jacqueline Greer, Executive Director - DC, Urban Teachers:
“The Elevating Educator Preparation through Innovation Act creates an opportunity for greater communication between teacher providers and districts. This ensures that candidates will receive the clinical experiences and support needed to effectively teach students in high-need schools. This feedback loop assists teacher providers in making meaningful and informed improvements to their programs and in improving districts' ability to provide relevant professional development to new teachers – furthering their practice and improving outcomes for students.”
"Teach Plus applauds Senators Hatch, Bennet, Cornyn, and Warner for their leadership in moving forward to address our nation's critical need to better prepare our teaching force. Our teachers are supportive of this legislation -- particularly the deepening of the connection between teacher preparation and professional development -- and are eager to see it move forward."
Data Quality Campaign:
“The Data Quality Campaign commends Senators Hatch, Bennet, Cornyn, and Warner for their commitment to using education data as a powerful tool to increase education quality and support student achievement. The Elevating Educator Preparation through Innovation Act encourages states to use education data in innovative ways to support effective teaching and to conduct the meaningful research needed to enhance education across the country. When teachers have the skills to effectively and ethically use a wide array of qualitative and quantitative data, they are empowered as professionals to improve student achievement and classroom instruction. In addition, the bill’s support for independent program evaluations will allow states and educator preparation programs to understand how well they are preparing future educators for the classroom and to improve their own programming and better prepare educators for success.”
“Knowledge Alliance supports the Elevating Educator Preparation through Innovation Act, which provides teacher preparation program grants that encourage teachers to use both qualitative and quantitative data to improve student achievement and classroom instruction. In addition, the Elevating Educator Preparation through Innovation Act also requires the Institute of Educational Sciences to independently evaluate the effectiveness of the grants to help ensure the continuous improvement of these programs.”