The U.S. Department of Education is dusting off and giving a tune-up to the requirement in No Child Left Behind that states address how students from low income and minority backgrounds will not be taught by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers at higher rates than their peers.
It’s been over a decade since this requirement took hold, but most state plans have not been updated since 2006.
This week, the Department unveiled its 50-state teacher equity strategy to revive these plans by focusing in 3 areas:
- State Educator Equity Plans: By April 2015 states must submit a new plan to the Department that describe the steps it will take to ensure that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers,” as the NCLB/ESEA requirement reads. To support the creation and implementation of this plan, the Department will issue guidance this fall.
- Educator Equity Support Network: In the fall of 2014, the Department will fund a new, $4 million technical assistance network to support states in addressing their individual needs, share promising strategies, and identify areas of opportunity for additional support. Addressing the needs of students with disabilities will be highlighted.
- Data Release and State Profiles: Each state will receive a copy of its complete data file from the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), and the Department will release State-specific teacher equity profiles, which will be available to the public on the Department’s Web site.
While Department outlined broad goals for this initiative, much remains to be seen regarding the details. CEC has and will continue to work with the Department to ensure students with disabilities and special educators are a priority consideration.
For years, CEC – along with over 90 other education and civil rights groups -- has been urging the Congress and the Department to eliminate a loop-hole that allows individuals still in their training programs to be deemed “highly qualified”.
Not only is using this designation misnomer but it is misleading to families about the qualifications of their child’s teacher. A fundamental core value of equity must be access to fully prepared educators.
We made progress in 2012 when Congress directed the Department to study this issue to see how many students with disabilities were being taught by teachers-in-training and are now waiting for the results which are expected in November, 2014.
Tell us your thoughts on the Department’s teacher equity plan in the comment section below!