Obama aims to overhaul teacher prep regs

The Obama Administration will introduce a proposed overhaul of regulations governing teacher preparatory programs this summer, with an eye on implementing new rules by 2015, the White House said Friday.

Federal officials will push states to require schools to identify how both traditional approaches within universities, and the new breed of nontraditional programs pioneered by organizations like Teach for America, prepare teachers for the classroom.

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The federal government will also ask states to require teacher-prep programs to provide more useful data about the career success of teachers who graduate from their programs, and the academic success of the students they teach.

The government may use the new metrics to inform how federal TEACH grants are used. Those grants support students who are planning to become teachers in high-need fields at low income schools.

"Teachers should be classroom ready, they should be confident when they begin their careers," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said on Thursday.

Duncan said that teachers often complained that before entering the workforce, they had not been given "enough preparation actually teaching and teaching in diverse environments," or "taught how to use technology" that can better gauge the effectiveness of their lessons.

"We want to encourage states to promote more meaningful outcomes," Duncan said.

The promise by the White House to release a proposed rule set for public comment this summer represents a recommitment to the initiative. The administration had released possible regulations in early 2012, but the effort stalled amid protest from higher education institutions and teachers unions.

Those groups had objected in particular to rules that would attempt to measure teachers' impact on student learning, and the creation of metrics judging programs based on job placement and retention rates.

Administration officials wouldn't say Thursday whether those controversial rules would remain in the draft proposal to be released this summer, but emphasized that they would seriously weigh public comment before finalizing new regulations.

But Duncan said the issue was something "the president has a real sense of urgency about," and would be a top priority for his department.