On Wednesday the Department of Education announced new regulations aimed at helping prepare new K-12 teachers for the classroom. These regulations have been five years in the making, beginning with Arne Duncan, the former education secretary.
These regulations will require that schools keep track of the performance and retention rates of teachers in their first three years after graduation. They will also allow states to measure the efficiency of their teacher preparation programs. These regulations will apply to both university programs and certification routes like Teach for America.
U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. stressed that the purpose of the regulations is to provide transparency and establish better communication between K-12 schools and teacher training programs. “The use of data and really focusing on outcomes I really think is critical. And so whenever we can put that in place I think it helps drive the whole system forward, which is important,” Sec. King stated. “And we certainly want teachers that are prepared, that are making an impact and a difference for kids. And so we can look at that and go back and have our partnerships with the different universities and say, ‘Look, this is what’s working.’”
Both graduates and their employers will be required to give feedback on the success of teacher training programs. Programs that are rated as low-performing for two out of three years will no longer be eligible for The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants. TEACH Grants give up to $4,000 a year to students who agree to teach for four years at a school serving primarily low-income families.
These new regulations were met with criticism from Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, who felt these new regulations were minor changes and wouldn’t provide serious impact. Weingarten does not believe that the effectiveness of training programs should be measured by the success of their graduates’ students.
Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality, sees these new regulations as being an important part of preparing teachers for the classroom. “I see it as a tremendous opportunity because at no other point in the history of teacher education in the United States has the field been forced to ask itself if it is really adding value, and if not, what it needs to do to change.”
The new regulations aimed at helping teachers succeed could provide an added incentive to students looking to go into a public service major, especially those planning to take out federal student loans. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program gives borrowers, including eligible teachers, the opportunity to have the balance of their loans forgiven after 10 years on a payment plan while working full time in a public service career. Teachers who work under contract for 30 hours a week for at least 8 out of the 12 months will meet the full-time requirement for PSLF.