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Department of Education Unveils Teacher Preparation Plan
posted by: Alix | October 05, 2011, 02:35 PM   

Last week, AAE had the pleasure of attending an event headlined by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and hosted by Education Sector, which unveiled the Department of Education's proposals to reform teacher preparation programs and better prepare new teachers for the classroom. The event featured both a speech by Secretary Duncan and panel of experts discussing the state of teacher prep and the need for reform. According to the department, the proposals are to be a part of the overall effort by the administration to support educators and make government programs work better for teachers and students.

"Too many future teachers graduate from prep programs unprepared for success in the classroom," said Secretary Arne Duncan in his remarks. "We have to give teachers the support they need to ensure that children get the high quality education they deserve. Our goal is to develop a system that recognizes and rewards good programs, and encourages all of them to improve."

The department is initiating a series of reform efforts to ensure future teachers are better supported. First, based on existing authority in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, the department is proposing to reduce the reporting burden on colleges of education and states, which are currently required to report 440 different measures annually. The reform would focus on meaningful data collection and finding empirical measures for effective programs. The change will help identify the most effective teacher preparation programs and encourage others to improve by linking student test scores back to teachers and their schools of education.

Second, the department has proposed a $185 million Presidential Teaching Fellows program to support rigorous state-level policies and provide scholarships for future teachers to attend top colleges of education. Similarly to such programs as Teach for America, these future educators would be prepped to teach high-need subjects or fields, and upon graduation, teach for at least three years in high-need schools.

Additionally, the department is developing Hawkins Centers for Excellence that will help cultivate the next generation of effective minority teachers. Calling for diversity in the field, President Obama's budget proposes $40 million in first-time funding for this program to support and diversify the teaching workforce. Minority-serving institutions will be eligible to receive competitive grants to reform and expand their teacher preparation programs.

Together, these three initiatives are designed to identify and support the best programs, remove burdens from institutions and help programs improve so education schools can better prepare future teachers for classroom realities.

Click here to read the plan in its entirety.

Click here to watch the webcast of the Education Sector event.

What are your thoughts on the department's plan? While teacher preparation clearly needs reform, is this plan the best course of action?
Comment below.

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