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Education Department to Seek Feedback on Teacher Ed. Accountability

The U.S. Department of Education is getting started on what could ultimately result in a major regulatory overhaul of the federal reporting and accountability provisions for programs that prepare teachers.

According to a Federal Register notice, the department will hold "roundtable" discussions on teacher education accountability, and on two teacher-preparation grant proposals it wants to see funded, to gain feedback from the field as it considers whether to propose new rules.

Title II of the Higher Education Act requires teacher ed programs that offer federal student aid to report on specific requirements, mainly on their teacher-candidates' licensing-test passing scores and how they identify "low performing" programs. The law permits the Education Department to promulgate regulations in those areas, though it hasn't yet done so.

But early this year, the administration laid out in the department's 2012 budget justifications plans to review—and potentially revise—the information that is currently collected, as I reported for Education Week. These roundtables are, apparently, the precursor to that process.

The budget justifications were already pretty specific about the indicators the administration wants to see as part of Title II: value-added gauges of newly minted candidates' performance, information on where they are placed, and employer surveys. It will be interesting to see whether any of those indicators change as a result of feedback from the field.

The administration will also be seeking information on the Hawkins Centers of Excellence program, which is aimed at minority-serving institutions, and the Presidential Teaching Fellows, which would help create a corps of excellent teachers with license portability across states.

At one point, the administration also was working with lawmakers on a bill to authorize the Fellows program, but I haven't seen anything introduced yet along those lines in this Congress. The Hawkins program, meanwhile, was created in the 2008 HEA rewrite, but has not yet received funding or been fleshed out through regulations.

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