A Second Bid by US Education Department to Regulate Teacher Preparation Programs Receives Mixed Reactions

The federal government, following a failed attempt in 2012 because of a lack of agreement to use test scores to evaluate teacher effectiveness, would like states to use a rating system approved its Department of Education to determine how well teacher preparation programs run by the universities, Teach for America and other nonprofits and through school districts are preparing K-12 teachers for the classroom. Obama Administration does not believe that K-12 teachers are ready for the classroom. Some of the criteria the rating system would use to rank the programs as “low-performing,” “at-risk,” “effective” or “exceptional” are whether the graduates from these programs are hired to teach the subject of their specialty, how their students do in standardized and other tests, and how long they remain at their jobs.

A “low-performing” or “at-risk” program for two consecutive years, will lose the $4000 a year federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, or TEACH, grants for teacher preparation candidates who agree to work full time in high-need fields and struggling schools for at least four academic years which amounted to $96.7 million for 34, 000 grants.

According to Arne Duncan Education Secretary of Education, “Nothing in school matters as much as the quality of teaching our students receive. We owe it to our children to give them the best-prepared teachers possible.” The regulations will be issued by September 2015 with the first report cards issued by states in April 2019. Take advantage of the 60 day public comment period to share your ideas and opinions.

Here are the mixed reactions reported by Lyndsey Layton, who has been covering national education since 2011:

“Arthur Levine, former president of Teachers College at Columbia University and a critic of teacher preparation programs, said the country needs urgent action. “Our colleges and universities have waited far too long to transform these programs to meet the needs of both today and tomorrow,” he said.

“Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education, which represents colleges and universities, said the move is “a significant expansion in the federal role overseeing state government. But it may well change considerably before it becomes final.”

“States would be required to judge the quality of an education program in large part by tracking the performance of a newly minted teacher’s students on standardized tests. That idea triggered immediate protests from teachers unions, which argue that student test scores are not an accurate measurement of teacher effectiveness.”

“There’s no evidence these regulations will lead to improvement and plenty of reason to believe they will cause harm,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, adding that teacher prep programs might avoid placing graduates in struggling schools where test scores tend to be lower and teacher turnover higher.“Due to the focus on K-12 test scores, the very programs preparing diverse teachers for our increasingly diverse classrooms will be penalized.”

“Becky Pringle, vice president of the National Education Association, said her union recognizes the need for better teacher training, but she also slammed the “inappropriate” use of test scores to judge teacher preparation. “Too many teachers are saying they are unprepared for the realities of the classroom and that teacher preparation, licensure, and induction standards must improve,” she said.

“Charles Barone, policy director for Democrats for Education Reform, said that improving the education schools’ quality will prevent future problems.“They could save a lot in the long run if they just got the training right from the get go,” he said.

“Too many people are graduating who aren’t prepared to teach. Then you get bad instruction for the kids. And we try to remediate that,” Barone said. “You’d do less of that and disrupt fewer lives if you just got it right from the beginning.”

NAEP’s Data Show A Steady Growth in Math for Hispanic Students

A report released on November 10, 2014 by Child Trends Hispanic Institute based on the analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress, NAEP’s, data covering the past ten years show a significant and steady growth in federal Math tests by Hispanic students. Major cities such as Houston, Charlotte, Boston and the District showed the most gains.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit research center, Child Trends Hispanic Institute indicated that the growth is about one grade level with fourth grade students’ scores going up nine points and eighth grade students’ scores going up thirteen points. NAEP’s report is also known as the Nation’s Report Card and represents the “most consistent measure of K-12 progress” in the United States.

Natalia Pane, the vice president of research operations at Child Trends who authored the report expressed surprise at her findings and said, “It’s really interesting what’s going on in the large cities. Our large cities were able to keep pace when they’ve got such higher proportions of students coming from low-income families.”

Single Sex Education: A Solution For Low Achieving Inner-City Public Schools?

Single sex-education in public kindergarten through twelfth grade schools is a fairly new concept. During the past decade, there has been a remarkable increased interest in offering single-sex education in the United States K-12 public schools. The increase in single-sex education could be partly attributed to the May 2002 former President Bush’s proposal to spend $385 million from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001’s allocation to create separate schools for boys and girls. The Bush administration’s proposal appeared to be in conflict with the 1972’s Title IX regulation 34 CFR106.34 which mandates that schools receiving federal funds shall not create programs and activities on the basis of sex except in cases of few contact sports, sex-education classes, remedial or affirmative action (Bronski, 2002). The appearance of the stated conflict reduced the surge to create single-sex education schools and classes as school districts across the nation cautiously awaited clarification from the Bush administration. The clarification came when the U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations that make it legal to educate boys and girls separately under certain conditions effective November 24, 2006.
The regulations are the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of the 1972’s Title IX regulation 34 CFR106.34 federal statute. The Education Department also emphasized that single-sex education is completely voluntary for districts and schools. Stephanie J. Monroe, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, stated in a conference call with reporters in November 2006, “This is not a federal mandate. This is an option that can be helpful to some students.” Single-sex education is designed to offer parents more choices in public education (Davis, 2006).
One of the reasons for the rise of these schools and classes is the belief that single-sex education will bring about substantial changes in the academic performance of under-performing public schools which are mostly located in the American inner cities. Proponents of single-sex education believe that high dropout rates and discipline problems stemming from interaction between boys and girls will be reduced in single-sex classrooms and schools, thereby leaving room for higher student achievement. Some schools that have experienced success at varying degrees with single-sex education are spread across several cities in the United States such as Boynton Beach, Florida, Columbus, Ohio, Memphis, Tennessee, and Seattle, Washington.
This paper analyzed the historical background, policies, regulations, practices, challenges and successes of single-sex education in the United States K-12 public schools. The effects of single-sex education on student achievement, with emphasis on under achieving inner-city public schools were focused on. The academic research suggests positive educational benefits of single-sex schooling for girls (if not affluent), at-risk students, and African-American and Hispanic students (regardless of sex). Further, white males either benefit slightly or at worst realize a neutral outcome.