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Washington, D.C. (February 16, 2007) This week, the Commission on No Child Left Behind (www.nclbcommission.org) released its final report and recommendations. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) congratulates the Commission for producing a comprehensive set of recommendations geared toward improving the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
“AACTE is particularly pleased that the Commission recognizes the challenges and commitment required for the preparation of high-quality teachers and school leaders,” said Dr. Sharon P. Robinson, president and CEO of AACTE. She also praised the Commission for acknowledging the strategic significances of educator quality, the role of schools of education, and our commitment to more ambitious student achievement goals.
AACTE agrees with the Commission that schools of education must be more explicit about their intention to work with the local communities to produce the needed teachers. However, AACTE questions whether this should be accomplished through federal policy levers such as hinging federal student aid eligibility on how well an institution meets the goals its sets for addressing teacher shortage areas. Instead, AACTE asserts that schools of education should develop and meet these goals to address teacher shortage areas through the accreditation process and through expanding the Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant program in Title II of the Higher Education Act.
AACTE will work with the profession’s accreditors to ensure that the ability of a school of education to meet the education needs of the community is a key evaluating factor in the accreditation process. Every institution already partners in some way with P-12 schools to make sure that teachers are well-prepared to teach effectively in the classroom; the Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant program has been one of the tools that have allowed these partnerships to form and strengthen. AACTE recommends significantly expanding the grant program to allow for a much broader participation in the profession.
AACTE maintains that the current definition in NCLB of “highly qualified teacher” (HQT) is limited in its breadth and does not ensure that teachers are effective. The current definition requires that teachers have met credentialing requirements and are competent in their content areas, but it does not ensure that teachers are able to effectively teach their content to students. The Commission’s proposed Highly Qualified and Effective Teacher status would measure a teacher’s effectiveness through student learning gains as well as through principal and peer evaluations.
“While AACTE supports developing measures of teacher effectiveness in relation to student achievement, it cautions that much capacity building is needed before any mandates should be considered,” said Robinson.
AACTE is pleased to see that the Commission recognizes the barriers teachers face when moving to teach in other states. AACTE endorses the Commission’s recommendation that states develop reciprocity agreements for certification and licensure that would facilitate teachers’ transitions to other states. AACTE is currently managing a state certification consortium for the mid-Atlantic region, the Meritorious New Teacher Candidate Project, that is increasing teacher mobility, and the Association looks forward to working with others to promote this model across the country (see http://www.aacte.org/programs/martp/aboutmartp.cfm).