Press Releases

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Washington, DC—Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced a bipartisan bill to improve professional development opportunities for teachers and school leaders in high-needs school districts called the Teacher and School Leaders need Education and Development to be Empowered Resources in Schools (LEADER) Act. 

“Having strong teachers, school leaders, and administrators is vital to a strong school,” said Hatch. “By supporting training programs that develop aspiring teachers, principals, and other school leaders and give them the practical experience needed to succeed in the classroom, we can respond to the need for the best educator development. As Utah and other states struggle to staff schools with well qualified educators, my Senate colleagues and I are working to enable schools in high-need districts to partner with a broader range of organizations to provide more professional development opportunities for educators and help prepare them for a career in the classroom. This proposal both ensures that teachers, principals, and school leaders have greater access to the resources they need to thrive in their professions and inspire a new generation of Americans.” 

“We must ensure that all students can learn from excellent teachers and school leaders,” said Bennet. “Colorado’s communities recognize the importance of investing in the preparation and development of our educators. From Denver to Alamosa, districts have crafted residency programs to raise the bar for the skills, experience, and support we provide to our future teachers. This legislation builds on Colorado’s momentum to provide more teachers and school leaders with access to the tools they need to succeed in our classrooms and schools.” 

“Teachers and school leadership play a vital role in nurturing and shaping young minds capable of solving today’s toughest problems,” said Cornyn. “This legislation would help give educators in Texas’ high-need school districts the opportunities and resources necessary to motivate students to succeed in school and beyond.” 

 “I’m proud to join Senator Hatch, Senator Bennet, and Senator Cornyn in introducing this bipartisan legislation to expand professional development opportunities for teachers and school administrators,” said Warner. “When we empower educators, their students benefit.”  

Statements of Support

Many local, state and national organizations have endorsed the bill. A letter signed of support has been signed by the following groups: Center for the Study of Education Policy, Council for Exceptional Children, Deans for Impact, Democrats for Education Reform, EdAllies (MN), Educators for Excellence, Hope Street Group, Knowledge Alliance, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Council of Teachers of English, New Leaders, NJ Principals and Supervisors Association, NYC Leadership Academy, Profound Gentlemen, TASH, and Teach Plus. Click [HERE] to read the full letter.

Jean Desravines, New Leaders Chief Executive Officer
“The proposal put forth today by Senators Hatch, Bennet, Cornyn, and Warner highlights what research and our experience have long shown: school leadership matters greatly for students. We are especially encouraged by the bill’s recognition that a large and growing number of teachers, principals, and other school leaders are trained through nontraditional programs. The proposal would provide the opportunity for a wider array of innovative and effective programs to partner and compete for funding under Title II—while also being held accountable for delivering real results for kids. By focusing on research-based practices and evidence of effectiveness, the bill advances a crucial goal: getting well-prepared, well-supported leaders in every school, especially those serving the students and communities most in need.”

Tabitha Grossman, Hope Street Group National Director, Education Policy and Partnerships

"We know from research that the quality of school leadership influences teachers' decisions about remaining in the profession. Keeping more teachers in the profession is a priority and efforts to strengthen the preparation of school leaders is one we support." 

Alice Johnson Cain, Teach Plus Executive Vice President, Policy and Partnerships

"Teachers know that strong principal leadership is an essential ingredient in successful schools.  The Teacher and School LEADERS Act will ensure more of our public schools get the outstanding leadership they need so more students can succeed."

Background

Research has shown that strong school leaders can dramatically improve the quality of teaching and accounts for 25 percent of a school’s effect on student achievement. Despite the critical importance of school leadership within a school, our current state of educator preparation and training does not adequately prioritize the need to recruit, select and train teacher and school leaders, particularly in high-need schools. At the same time, recent reports and statistics show that traditional methods of training new educators do not adequately prepare them for the realities of teaching or leading in a school setting. To do their best for students, aspiring teachers, teacher leaders, principals and other school leaders need more practical, on-the-job experience and targeted support from their preparation programs and colleges. Innovative programs and partnerships are responding to the need for stronger educator development, but continued innovation and progress require even more dramatic changes to the sector.

Reforming Teacher Quality Partnership Grants to Support Principals and School Leaders

This legislation amends Part A of Title II of the Higher Education Act to support opportunities for principal and school leader preparation programs within the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program. In doing so, it explicitly allows for high-need school districts to enter into partnerships with colleges and education and non-profit entities to support programs that recruit, select, and train educators who aspire to fill leadership roles in high-need schools. It also supports pre-service residency opportunities for aspiring school leaders which would train them to offer high-quality administration and leadership to geographically diverse or high-need schools.   

Allowing for More Innovation in Educator Preparation Will Help Elevate the Sector

This legislation also affords high-needs school districts the opportunity to forge new partnerships for the newly re-named Teacher, Principal, and Other School Leader Quality Enhancement grants under Title II of the Higher Education Act.  It allows districts to choose which teacher or school leader preparation organization (e.g., a college of education, nonprofit provider, alternative certification provider, etc.) will serve as their primary partner for the grant, based on shortages in teacher areas and qualifications.

This bill also fosters a stronger connection between teacher and school leaders' professional development and induction within the partnership grants.  It allows for up to 10 percent of grant funds to be used to create a nexus between a teacher’s clinical experiences and their professional development once placed in a school or district.  By strengthening the link between educator preparation and professional development, this bill will help teachers and school leaders develop and will support innovation in educator preparation based on district feedback.

Furthermore, this legislation encourages teachers and school leaders to use both qualitative and quantitative data to improve student achievement and classroom instruction. It also requires the Institute of Educational Sciences to evaluate independently the effectiveness of the Teacher, Principal, and Other School Leader Quality Enhancement Grants.

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