Sunday, October 02, 2011

Education Dept. to Propose New Accountability Gauge for Teacher-Training Programs

By Kelly Field | Chronicle of Higher Education
September 29, 2011

The Education Department will release a report on Friday calling for new regulations that would tie teacher-training grants to the test scores of the teachers' students.

According to sources familiar with the report, the department wants to hold teachers' colleges accountable for how well their graduates' future students perform on standardized tests. Under its plan, states would be required to report test scores for students taught by graduates of their federally financed teacher-education programs.

States are already required to submit annual "teacher preparation" report cards to the department each October. But the data have always focused on the teachers themselves—how well they perform on state assessments, for example—and not on their students.

The department's recommendation is almost certain to be unpopular among teachers' colleges and teachers' groups, who will argue that many factors determine how well students score on tests. Lobbyists for the groups declined to comment on the report until Friday, when it will be officially released.

The secretary of education, Arne Duncan, has criticized teachers' colleges in the past, accusing them of doing a "mediocre job" of preparing teachers for "the realities of the 21st-century classroom." In a speech almost two years ago, he assailed states for approving weak teacher-education programs and licensing exams, and for neglecting teacher outcomes.

Secretary Duncan is likely to repeat those criticisms on Friday, at the official release of the report. But the secretary will also call for more money for a program aimed at producing more minority teachers.

Mr. Duncan will also call on Congress to enact President Obama's plan to overhaul the Teach Grant program. In his budget for the 2012 fiscal year, Mr. Obama called for replacing the program with a new $185-million Presidential Teaching Fellows grant program for states. The new program would provide states with scholarship money for strong teacher candidates in exchange for better reporting to help determine which teacher-education programs work.

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