News

CCCU Opposes Department of Education’s Final Regulations on Teacher Prep Programs

October 19, 2016
Image from Photos.com
Image from Photos.com
WASHINGTON – The Department of Education’s final regulations on teacher preparatory programs, released on Oct. 12, 2016, will likely have a negative impact on Christian colleges and universities, said CCCU President Shirley V. Hoogstra.

The CCCU has opposed the DOE’s efforts to federalize the oversight of teacher preparatory programs at colleges and universities since the first proposal was released in 2012. The DOE has provided several opportunities for comment, and several of the modifications in the final rules indicate some of the CCCU’s concerns were heard.

However, unchanged is one of the points of greatest concern for the CCCU: the Department’s push to use student test scores as the assessment for how well a preparatory program prepares its graduates to teach in the classroom instead of a peer-reviewed accreditation process.

Many CCCU alumni feel called serve in school districts that have traditionally struggled with low test scores, Hoogstra said. By tying federal funding to test scores, CCCU institutions could be adversely affected if their alumni continue to serve in such a capacity, as they send a higher percentage of graduates into these schools than other teacher preparatory programs.

“These regulations undercut the missional and sacrificial way in which Christian colleges and universities send graduates of their education programs into school districts with the highest need,” Hoogstra said. “Often the students in these districts are not able to immediately meet learning outcomes, and the desired results take more than just two years to implement. This regulation will penalize the institutions that prepare the very people who are called to work with the students who need them the most, and it will affect CCCU institutions even more than most.”

The regulations, which will go into effect on July 1, 2017, are 695 pages in length, meaning it will be difficult to determine their full impact yet. However, as the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities has outlined, the new regulations include:
  • Establish necessary definitions and requirements for institutions of higher education and States related to the quality of teacher preparation programs, and require States to develop measures for assessing teacher preparation performance.
  • Establish indicators that States must use to report on teacher preparation program performance, to help ensure that the quality of teacher preparation programs is judged on reliable and valid indicators of program performance.
  • Establish the areas States must consider in identifying teacher preparation programs that are low-performing or at-risk of being low-performing, the actions States must take with respect to those programs, and the consequences for a low-performing program that loses State approval or financial support. The final regulations also establish the conditions under which a program that loses State approval or financial support may regain its eligibility for title IV, HEA funding.
  • Establish a link between the State’s classification of a teacher preparation program’s performance under the 8 title II reporting system and that program’s identification as “high-quality” for TEACH Grant eligibility purposes.
  • Establish provisions that allow TEACH Grant recipients to satisfy the requirements of their agreement to serve by teaching in a high-need field that was designated as high-need at the time the grant was received.
  • Establish conditions that allow TEACH Grant recipients to have their service obligations discharged if they are totally and permanently disabled. The final regulations also establish conditions under which a student who had a prior service obligation discharged due to total and permanent disability may receive a new TEACH Grant.
“We will be closely watching how the states determine the learning outcomes by which these programs will be measured,” Hoogstra said. “Ultimately, we are disappointed that the Department of Education followed through on their proposal to release these unnecessary regulations.”

The CCCU has previously examined how the regulation would impact CCCU institutions in the spring 2013 issue of Advance. In February 2015, Hoogstra commented on the initial proposed regulations; in May 2016, she responded to a supplemental proposal regarding the state authorization of distance education teacher prep programs.

###

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 182 Christian institutions around the world. The 117 member campuses in North America are all regionally accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences and whose missions are Christ-centered and rooted in the historic Christian faith. In addition, 65 affiliate campuses from 20 countries are part of the CCCU. The CCCU’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit www.cccu.org.

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities offers nine off-campus study programs, collectively branded BestSemester®, which expand learning opportunities for students from CCCU campuses and are designated as culture-shaping or culture-crossing programs. Culture-shaping BestSemester programs are: American Studies Program (Washington, D.C.), Contemporary Music Center (Nashville) and Los Angeles Film Studies Center (Los Angeles). Culture-crossing BestSemester programs are: Australia Studies Centre, Latin American Studies Program, Middle East Studies Program, Oxford Summer Programme, Scholars’ Semester in Oxford and Uganda Studies Program. Visit www.bestsemester.com for program details.