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Deadline for Teacher-Distribution Plans Looms

Attention state agency officials: Monday is the final deadline to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education that address the equitable distribution of teachers. Of course, most states are already part-way there—31 states voluntarily submitted drafts of their plans for feedback.

Refresher: What exactly are these plans? After much back-and-forth, the Education Department decided to cook-up a "50-state" strategy, requiring states to show how they plan to ensure that the most-qualified teachers are serving in both high- and low-poverty schools.

That's something that states were required to address under the No Child Left Behind Act, which passed more than a decade ago. But most haven't made substantial progress, at least according to "equity" reports put out by the department. Part of the reason? It's a really, really hard thing to do.

It's unclear, too, just how much force these new "plans" will have. The department isn't tying them to renewal of NCLB waivers, so the enforcement mechanism is unclear. What's more, states with waivers from the NCLB law are already working on another area: teacher effectiveness (i.e. how much teachers move the needle on student achievement). They're trying to move away from teacher quality (whether teachers have a bachelor's degree and expertise in their subject). But, at least according to initial guidance, "quality" not "effectiveness" is what these plans are supposed to address. 

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