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Teacher 'Residencies' Get Federal Boost

Although it got a bit lost in all the commotion about this hearing, the Education Department made an important teacher-preparation announcement last week. The agency awarded $43 million in grants to improve preparation programs at 28 institutions.

They're the first grants awarded under the retooled Title II of the Higher Education Act (not to be confused with Title II of No Child Left Behind, which also deals with teacher-quality issues).

Congress made some significant changes to the program during the 2008 renewal of the HEA. Now, it's funding only partnerships between districts and universities that are designed to respond more specifically to the needs of those communities. In particular, lawmakers supported teacher "residencies," in which the clinical student-teaching experience moves to the foreground of preparation and occurs for an entire year. (For the specifics of the residency model, see this story.)

12 of the new grants support the residency model exclusively, nine focus on reforms to traditional programs, and seven target some combination of both.

It will be enlightening to check in with these grantees in a year or so and see whether they've fundamentally overhauled the teacher-preparation model. And let's not forget that the new HEA includes new reporting requirements for teacher colleges designed to increase accountability, and the Race to the Top puts a premium on programs that can track graduates into their classrooms.

Will we see better results from these new programs? Stay tuned.

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