Just over two years ago, the U.S. Department of Education suspended a three-month effort at negotiating with a wide array of stakeholders on new accountability rules for teacher prep programs. The sticking point was how much data on the classroom effectiveness of programs' graduates would figure into the measures. Use of such data seemed like a fine idea to higher ed leaders -- until their rhetoric about the wonders of output measures began to turn into real, live regs.
The suspension of negotiations left the rulemaking solely in the hands of the department, which issued new regulations Friday. Policy announcements issued on a Friday often don't garner much attention. But with stories appearing immediately in Politico and the New York Times about these rules, there's no doubt they will start a firestorm, and a needed firestorm at that. The regs outline both broad accountability measures using teacher effectiveness data, as well as transformation of the federal money pot for teacher prep ($100 million a year) into a competitive program that bases awards on the performance of programs' graduates.
The proposed regs have been portrayed as an ill-considered "quick fix." In a field that has resisted any kind of fix for generations, with disastrous consequences for teachers and their students, urgent action is absolutely the right move.