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Senate Proposal Would End "Highly Qualified" Designation

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Politics K-12's intrepid Alyson Klein reports on a bunch of proposals for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that are being introduced this week by Senate Republicans.

Our interest at Teacher Beat, as always, is on the teacher-quality implications. So far, the big takeaway is that the bills would do away with the unpopular "highly qualified" teacher requirements.

The summaries also make a particular point of playing the "no federal interference" card that seems to be a core education tenet among Republican lawmakers these days. Among other things, the proposals would:

• End the highly qualified teacher requirements. These, as you'll recall, require states to end emergency certification and to ensure all teachers are fully certified, demonstrate subject-matter competency, and hold a bachelor's degree;

• Target teacher and principal training to a local needs assessment (which, oddly, districts are already required to complete under the terms of the current Teacher Quality State Grants, or Title II-A program).

• Set up a competitive grant program for "private-sector" organizations such as nonprofits to provide teacher training and professional development. (Expect lots of screaming from those who fear the so-called "corporate reform" movement.)

• Encourage states and districts to develop teacher/principal evaluation systems based significantly on student academic achievement, and prohibit the feds from "regulating or controlling" those systems.

• Require data reporting on the quality and effectiveness of teachers and principals.

• Authorize the Teacher Incentive Fund, a performance-pay program that's been funded since 2006 but never set down on the books.

Nothing yet on the issue of equitable distribution of teachers, which has become a bigger issue over the last couple of years. And so far, the teachers' unions have been tight-lipped about their reaction to these proposals.

Alyson will have much more for you soon at edweek.org.

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