Press Releases & Statements
- 13 April 2012
As U.S. Department of Education Ends Process, AACTE Encourages Stakeholders to Contribute to Public Review
(April 13, 2012, Washington, D.C.) – The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) commends members of the U.S. Department of Education's negotiated rulemaking panel on teacher preparation for their meticulous deliberations on federal regulations for the profession. The negotiators lent valuable time and insight to considering the Department's proposed set of regulations regarding Title II of the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the Title IV TEACH grants. In the end, though, many recognized that, if enacted, the regulations would signify considerable intrusion of federal authority into states and institutions and that too many substantial compromises were necessary to reach consensus in a mere 8 days. The Department chose not to take a vote on consensus and ended the process given the significant number of unresolved issues.
The Department's current proposal extends well beyond current Title II HEA and TEACH grant statutes and is dismissive of the lack of resources available to states and institutions to implement many of the reporting requirements. AACTE recognizes the urgency with which the profession must develop appropriate measures to help connect teacher preparation program quality to moving the needle on K-12 student achievement. In fact, with Stanford University and Pearson, the Association is leading the development of a valid, reliable and nationally available performance assessment for new teachers. AACTE has also long supported the use of student learning outcomes to inform program quality so that valid methods of using that data could be developed. However, AACTE agrees with many negotiators that the configuration put forth by the Department is not ready to be used for high-stakes decisions. The Association encourages its members, as well as state school chiefs, professional standards boards and all other stakeholders engaged in teacher preparation, to consider panel members' concerns and contribute recommendations when the Department's proposed regulations are opened to public comment.
Concerns raised by many negotiators regarding the regulations included:
- The proposed regulations represent an intrusive federal role in higher education and represent a significant overreach of current statute.
- The proposed regulations add numerous reporting requirements to institutional and state report cards and ignore the statute's clear intent that states, not the federal government, have the authority to determine their preparation programs' quality.
- The proposed regulations would require states to develop high-stakes rating systems for teacher preparation programs using criteria that have not been determined to be valid for this purpose.
- Many institutions use criteria such as the value-added scores of program graduates' K-12 students, graduate and employer surveys, job placement and retention rates to inform program improvement. However, those measures have not been validated by research to be used in high-stakes decisions, such as states or the federal government rating preparation programs.
- The proposed regulations increase the regulatory burden on states and teacher preparation programs and require them to report on data that most do not have the capacity to collect.
- While many states are building data systems, few are developed enough to follow graduates into the workforce in their own states, let alone other states.
- The proposed regulations tie eligibility for student financial aid to a rating system of teacher preparation programs that is of questionable validity.
- Student financial aid should be based on students' merit and/or financial need and the quality of the institution (as determined through institutional accreditation), not on the programs in which they enroll.
- Many students in preparation programs are first generation college attendees with significant financial need. Many also have limited means and may not have access to more than one or two preparation programs close to their homes. A state rating system based in large measure on value-added scores could cause these students to be denied access to financial aid.
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, the LEARN Coalition, and a group of deans from Research I institutions all weighed in with concerns about the proposed regulations.
Panel members also expressed discontent regarding the process by which the Department conducted these particular negotiated rulemaking sessions. The three sessions followed a disjointed agenda, with new proposals being frequently offered with only minutes to review. The Department never addressed key questions such as why it was pursuing new regulations for a program it is seeking to eliminate (TEACH grants), how the multiple new requirements would achieve the Department's intention of reducing, rather than increasing, regulatory burden on states, and where statutory authority would reside for the proposals.
“AACTE was encouraged to see the U.S. Department of Education bring teacher preparation leaders together to discuss regulations that impact the profession,” said Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., president and CEO of AACTE. “However, it is understandable that panel members could not come to consensus on a proposal that represented such a dramatic overreach of federal authority. We hope the Department will heed concerns and recommendations raised by the negotiators. It would have been more appropriate for the issues introduced during this process to have been addressed through the Congress, rather than through the Executive branch. As it stands, AACTE and its members are eager to provide feedback on the draft regulations and continue working with the Congress during the reauthorization of Title II of the Higher Education Act.”
AACTE: Serving Learners
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to the highest quality professional development of teachers and school leaders in order to enhance PK-12 student learning. The 800 institutions holding AACTE membership represent public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. AACTE's reach and influence fuel its mission of serving learners by providing all school personnel with superior training and continuing education. For more information, visit www.aacte.org.