WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to boost student achievement in classrooms nationwide,
U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Chris Coons (D-DE) have teamed
up to introduce the Educator Preparation Reform Act (S.1694), which seeks to improve
the professional preparation of teachers, principals, librarians, and other school
leaders by focusing on clinical practice so that new educators are ready to meet the
challenges in the nation’s schools on day one.

The Educator Preparation Reform Act would overhaul federal laws governing teacher
preparation, including reporting requirements, accountability provisions, and the
TEACH Grant scholarship program. The bill places specific attention and emphasis on
principals with the addition of a residency program for new principals. The bill
better connects teacher preparation with principal preparation, and the legislation
would also allow partnerships to develop preparation programs for other areas of
instructional need, such as for school librarians, counselors, or other academic
support professionals. It also makes significant improvements to the Teacher
Quality Partnership Program, which Reed helped author in the 1998 reauthorization of
the Higher Education Act, by expanding the residency programs to include principals
and providing flexibility to partnerships to meet the instructional needs of local
school districts.

The legislation also streamlines the accountability and reporting requirements for
teacher preparation programs to provide greater transparency on key quality measures
such as admissions standards, requirements for clinical practice, placement of
graduates, retention in the field of teaching, and teacher performance, including
student learning outcomes. All programs – whether traditional or alternative routes
to certification – will report on the same measures. Under the legislation, states
will be required to identify at-risk and low-performing programs and provide them
with technical assistance and a timeline for improvement, and states would be
encouraged to close programs that do not improve.

“We all know that high-quality and well-prepared teachers and principals make a
tremendous difference for students and help raise student achievement in the
classroom,” said Senator Reed. “It’s of great importance that we help those
motivated teachers and principals hit the ground running, especially in the nation’s
highest-need schools. The best way to accomplish that is with a comprehensive
system that encourages their preparation, professional growth, and development prior
to the first day of school and throughout the length of their careers. I’m proud to
once again introduce this legislation and push for an increased level of investment
in our educators and their students.”

“Providing educators with the resources necessary to do their jobs is an investment
in the future,” said Senator Casey. “We know that if our children learn more now,
they’ll earn more later. This legislation helps further that goal by making
commonsense commitments to train and support teachers and other faculty from the
earliest days of their careers.”

“Effective teachers are a critical factor in unlocking opportunity for students,
especially for those who attend high-need schools,” said Senator Coons. “This
legislation is not only a vital investment in the training and development of our
teachers, but also provides support for principals and educators, such as counselors
and paraprofessionals. Investing in all of our educators is the surest way to
provide a high-quality education, which is why I’m pleased to support this bill.”

SUMMARY: The Educator Preparation Reform Act:
Improves the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants Program:

* Maintains the core mechanism of the program providing for partnerships between
institutions of higher education, high-need LEAs, and high-need schools to recruit
and prepare teachers, principals, and other educators who commit to serve at least
three years in a high need school.
* Requires that partnership grants be used to reform undergraduate teacher
preparation programs, establish teacher or principal residency programs, or a
combination of those activities.
* Allows partnership grants to support and improve programs to develop other
educators needed by school districts, such as librarians, literacy specialists,
and school counselors.

Strengthens Accountability for Programs that Prepare Teachers:

* Streamlines the data reporting requirements of indicators of program quality
and performance for states as well as both institutions of higher education and
other entities offering teacher preparation programs.
* Offers states and institutions the option to utilize a valid and reliable
teacher performance assessment to determine candidate profession readiness.
* Requires reporting on candidate selectivity as measured by grade point
averages for admitted students.
* Requires the state to evaluate the capacity of the state longitudinal data
system to report outcome indicators on program graduates and report what is
available.
* Strengthens the state’s role in not only identifying at-risk and
low-performing teacher preparation programs, but includes provisions to supply
technical assistance to low-performing programs and close programs which, given
technical assistance and time to implement change, fail to improve.
* Engages key state-level and community stakeholders in the determination of the
criteria necessary to determine the performance level of the teacher preparation
programs in the state. Clarifies what it means for a program completer to be
profession ready. Streamlines Reporting Reforms TEACH Grants in Title IV of the
Higher Education Act
* Amends the TEACH Grants to limit the eligibility for grants to juniors,
seniors, and master’s degree level students.
* Allows for partial payback based on the length of service completed for TEACH
Grant recipients who do not finish the four-year service requirement.

The Educator Preparation Reform Act is supported by: the Association of Colleges for
Teacher Education; American Association of State Colleges and Universities;
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; Council for Christian Colleges and
Universities; Higher Education Consortium for Special Education; Hispanic
Association of Colleges and Universities; National Association of Elementary School
Principals; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National
Association of State Directors of Special Education; National Disability Rights
Network; National Network of State Teachers of the Year; Public Advocacy for Kids;
Rural School and Community Trust; Teacher Education Division of the Council for
Exceptional Children

The House counterpart of the bill (H.R. 3636) was introduced in the U.S. House of
Representatives last week by Congressman Ruben Kihuen (D-NV).