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A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

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At National Journal: Where Teachers Fit in Today’s ESEA Debate

Published:  July 18, 2013

Last week the National Journal Education Expert blog posed a question about teacher provisions in the House (H.R.5) and Senate (S.1094) ESEA reauthorization bills and whether the “highly qualified teacher” credential should be eliminated.

Here is what I had to say about HQT, “While the credentials required by the ‘highly qualified teacher’ provision do matter, they are not enough to indicate whether a teacher is going to be effective or not, especially with the most at-risk students. Why? State licensure requirements, as well as the quality of preparation programs and state oversight of them, vary greatly. If many colleges of education do a poor job of preparing teachers for the classrooms of today and states set low bars for passing required certification exams, can we really call teachers who are credentialed under these systems ‘highly qualified?’”

I also explained some of the key teacher proposed requirements:

  • The Senate bill maintains the HQT requirement; the House bill eliminates it.
  • Both bills require states to create teacher evaluation systems that include measures of student achievement data. The big difference between the two bills is that only the House bill requires evaluations to be used in personnel decisions.
  • Both bills would require teacher evaluations to be used to measure equity in the distribution of effective educators. While states would not be held accountable by the federal government for distributing effective teachers equitably, they would be required to at least report this information. This is a move in the right direction, and a better measure than the HQT provision. The challenge, though, is ensuring that measures included in teacher evaluation systems can actually provide valid and reliable information about a teacher's effectiveness.
  • Both bills would allow states to use Title II funds to develop teacher and principal preparation academies authorized directly by the state, instead of traditional accreditors.
  • Both bills would allow Title II dollars to continue to be used for class-size reduction. The House bill, however, would limit this use to 10 percent of funds, and the Senate bill would only allow funds to be used to reduce class sizes in PreK-3rd grade classrooms. The Senate bill also explicitly states that Title II dollars can be used to fund joint professional development between early childhood educators and elementary school staff. The House bill would also allow these dollars to enable districts to improve alternative routes to teaching, career ladders, selection and retention of teachers, induction programs, and mentoring and professional development.

Read my full response at the National Journal here.

For more information on how these bills compare to each other and to current law, check out this cheat sheet created by my colleague Anne Hyslop. This resource includes provisions related to early learning too such as the proposed requirement for including learning domains beyond the academic subject areas in K-3 state standards.

And if you are interested: The House ESEA reauthorization bill, H.R. 5, is currently being debated by the full House. For more on the amendments submitted read this informative and entertaining post by Hyslop. Follow @afhyslop and @laurabornfreund for updates on the debate.

 

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