New Department of Education Plan to Focus on Improving Teacher Quality


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Kindergarten teacher and children in classroom,

A child’s access to quality educators is often decided by their race and family income. As part of its efforts to correct that imbalance, the U.S. Department of Education recently announced the launch of its Excellent Educators for All Initiative, aimed at helping states and school districts channel quality educators to the students that need them the most.

“All children are entitled to a high-quality education regardless of their race, zip code or family income. It is critically important that we provide teachers and principals the support they need to help students reach their full potential,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

“Despite the excellent work and deep commitment of our nation’s teachers and principals, systemic inequities exist that shortchange students in high-poverty, high-minority schools across our country. We have to do better,” Duncan added. “Local leaders and educators will develop their own innovative solutions, but we must work together to enhance and invigorate our focus on how to better recruit, support and retain effective teachers and principals for all students, especially the kids who need them most.”

Research shows that low-income students and high-need schools tend to have teachers with less experience, fewer credentials and a shorter track record of success. Nationally, according to the department’s Civil Rights Data Collection, Black and American-Indian students are four times as likely as White students to be enrolled in a school with more than 20 percent first-year teachers, and Latino students are three times as likely.

In Louisiana, for example, the percentage of effective teachers is 50 percent higher in low-poverty, low-minority schools than in high-poverty, high-minority schools. In North Carolina, highly effective teachers are 50 percent more likely to leave a disadvantaged school than an advantaged school.

The Excellent Educators for All Initiative will unfold in three parts:

–States have been asked to submit their locally developed plans to increase educator equity by April 2015. These plans were first created in 2006 and are required by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

–The Department will invest $4.2 million to launch a new technical assistance network to support states and districts in developing and implementing their plans.

–This fall, the Department will publish educator equity profiles to help states to analyze their progress, including identifying gaps in access to quality teaching for low-income and minority students. They will also highlight successful efforts to recruit and retain effective educators in high-need schools.

The education initiative is part of President Obama’s year of action, an attempt to restore middle-class stability and increase opportunities for all Americans in the face of what he termed an intractable and ineffective Congress.

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