The Department of Education (ED) has released its final regulations on teacher preparation programs, requiring states to report on and rate these programs using a number of measures including student learning outcomes, placement and retention rates and feedback from graduates and their employers on program effectiveness.
States must begin to implement the regulations on a pilot basis in the 2017-18 academic year, although the first year a program could lose eligibility based on the new standards is 2021-22. ED will release non-regulatory guidance related to the final regulations to help states and districts with implementation.
Programs rated less than effective for two out of any three years can lose TEACH Grant eligibility. The TEACH Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who agree to teach for four years at a K-12 school or educational service agency that serves students from low-income families.
The final rules come after years of negotiated rule making and gathering input from the education community. Proposed rules released in 2014 were criticized for being overly reliant on test scores to judge the effectiveness of teacher prep programs. The final rules give more freedom to states to determine what measures of student outcomes they would use for ratings. States must report whether teacher preparation programs are “low-performing,” “at-risk” or “effective.”
ACE and 30 other higher education groups submitted comments in February 2015 on the proposed rules, noting that while the department’s stated goals are admirable, the rules will worsen existing challenges and undo much of the progress made by states and institutions to improve program quality.
Regarding the release of the final rules this week, ACE Senior Vice President Terry Hartle told The Washington Post that ED had dramatically underestimated the cost of complying with the rules. In 2014, California estimated that it would cost $230 million to get the system up and running and another $485 million each year to maintain; ED estimated the cost over the next decade to be an average of $27 million per year nationwide.
“Teacher quality is absolutely critical to improving student performance in the classroom. The central question, however, is whether or not these regulations will help—and the answer is no,” Hartle said. “They are costly, complex, burdensome and based on only tenuous evidence that they will work.”