On October 29, the Federal Register published the official notice of the U.S. Department of Education’s final regulations for teacher preparation programs, paving the way for implementing new requirements for the teacher preparation program accountability system under Title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).
Despite concerns raised by almost 5,000 stakeholders, the final regulations make only minor adjustments to the initial proposal such as granting the states some autonomy in the design of their accountability systems. However, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) remains deeply concerned that the original flawed and unworkable structure remains unchanged: all 26,000 of the country’s teacher preparation programs will be rated annually according to federal mandates that include student learning outcomes and employment outcomes, and that for the first time tie such assessments to federal student aid eligibility under Title IV.
“It is disconcerting that after a four-year process that generated such an abundance of stakeholder input, the Department has released regulations that fail to advance and elevate the teaching profession and to effectively address the most pressing challenges facing the nation’s education system: teacher shortages, preparation for today’s diverse classrooms, teacher diversity and the equitable distribution of fully-credentialed teachers,” stated HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores.
As HACU’s January 2015 response to the Department’s December 2014 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking pointed out, the regulations are also likely to produce results that run counter to national needs. For example, the new rating indicators create a disincentive for graduates to teach in the highest-needs schools, discouraging well-prepared teachers from working with students who need them most. The regulations also constitute an unfunded mandate that places an undue burden on teacher preparation programs and on the states.
As U.S. classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse and the teaching corps remains overwhelmingly white, these regulations fail to ensure that new teachers enter the work force profession-ready with demonstrated ability to engage with students who are culturally and linguistically diverse.
HACU, its member institutions and its professional partner organizations continue to advocate for serious efforts to assure excellence and diversity in the teaching profession to meet the needs of all of our nation’s students.