Coalition Calls on Administration to Proceed with Accountability Plan for Teacher Prep Programs


September 4, 2013

September 4th, 2013, Washington, DC – Democrats for Education Reform joined a coalition of advocates, educators, and researchers today to urge the White House and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to release draft regulations under which states would be required to evaluate and seek to improve their teacher preparation programs. The regulations were drafted by a group of stakeholders in 2012 and have been held at the White House Office of Management and Budget for more than a year. The groups signing the letter include the Center for American Progress Action Fund, The Education Trust, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Teach for America, and TNTP.

“The Administration has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to start us down the road of ensuring all teacher preparation programs are held to the same high standards we are expecting from teachers, schools, and students,” said DFER Policy Director, Charles Barone. “President Obama’s first term was marked by a visionary boldness on education that we’ve not yet seen this year. It would be a shame if the Administration decided now to rest forever on its laurels.”

The coalition letter follows shortly after President Obama presented his new proposal for higher education, which includes ranking institutions on a variety of measures related to both quality and affordability. Despite the fact that teacher education programs receive more than $4 billion annually from the federal government, and a broad consensus that neither their students nor taxpayers are getting their money’s worth, these programs were noticeably absent from the proposed policies in the President’s new higher education plan.

Teacher preparation programs have come under close scrutiny following the release of a landmark report by NCTQ in June, which found widespread deficiencies in teacher education programs nationwide. Currently, states have identified only three percent of all institutions that train and prepare teachers as low-performing. More than half of all states have failed to identify even one such lagging program. This widespread inaction by states comes despite longstanding requirements under the Higher Education Act first instituted in 1999 and last reauthorized by Congress in 2008.

Research shows that students with the most effective teachers on average advance a grade and a half on academic assessments in a single academic year, while students of similar backgrounds with the least effective teachers acquire about only half a grade level of learning in the same time period. With approximately 200,000 new teachers graduating each year, nothing is more vital to closing persistent achievement gaps than ensuring that all teacher preparation programs graduate only those who have the knowledge, skills, and experience to be effective from the first day they enter the classroom.

The draft regulations were developed after months of negotiated rulemaking in 2012, yet they still remain at the White House Office of Management and Budget. A similar coalition sent an almost identical letter on August 27th, 2012. The Administration has the authority to publish the draft regulations, seek comment, and proceed to final rule-making without any action required by Congress. The coalition is asking the Administration to exercise that authority.

The groups that have signed-on include:

A+ Denver
Association of American Educators
Center for American Progress
Chiefs for Change
Civic Builders
Democracy Builders
Democrats for Education Reform
Education Reform Now
The Education Trust
Educators 4 Excellence
The Mind Trust
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
National Council on Teacher Quality
Rhode Island Mayoral Academies
Success Academy Charter Schools
Teach for America

Click here to download a PDF of the coalition letter.