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Seven States Agree to Pilot Teacher-Prep Changes

Seven states will overhaul their teacher-preparation and -licensing systems under a two-year pilot program created by Council of Chief State School Officers, the group announced today.

The states are Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Washington.

Generally, the states will be expected to carry out reforms aligned with the recommendations in a report a CCSSO task force issued last December. In brief, they include raising admission standards for teacher-preparation programs, making licensure contingent on candidates' demonstration of specific skills, and overhauling their process for approving programs.

Echoing the federal Race to the Top initiative, states had to apply to join the pilot program by submitting a plan outlining the actions they plan to take. Each plan was crafted by a team of individuals representing the state education department, higher education insittutions, data-collection experts, and the state's teacher-standards board, among others. And in order to submit the plan, each state's governor and/or education committee chairs had to sign off on it.

Fifteen states applied in all, and CCSSO officials made the call on the winning state plans, with input from national partners representing the alphabet soup of Washington-based teacher-related organizations: the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the National Education Association, the National Council on Teacher Quality, and the Data Quality Campaign, among others.

In addition to technical assistance in getting their plan off the ground, each state will receive $100,000 during the first year from CCSSO, and a second-year amount contingent on how much progress they make. Progress will be judged by states' ability to revise or pass new policies, develop support for the changes, and implement their plans.

CCSSO will post summaries of the plans, though the full ones will be kept under wraps because they're likely to change and evolve.

As with any initiative dependent on the carrying out of a plan in good faith, the success of this effort will depend on maintaining political support among the many actors, CCSSO officials noted.

That's not an easy task when an endeavor, such as this one, stands to change how adults in both K-12 and higher education do their jobs. Recent events in teacher preparation such as the new national accreditation standards suggest that there is an appetite for change in this field. Whether there is a will behind it remains to be seen.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the first-year award amount.

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