House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Alternative Certification
The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing this week to examine alternative certification of teachers. The topic is a timely one given its connection to defining highly qualified teachers under the No Child Left Behind Act. In 2010, Congress passed legislation that allowed students enrolled in alternative certification programs to be considered “highly qualified teachers.” The House Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill seeks to extend this definition for two more years.
There was general support for alternative routes to certification on both sides of the aisle during the hearing. Chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA) had this to say:
Alternative certification routes help address teacher shortages in particular geographic areas and subject matter, as well as strengthen the overall quality of the teaching profession. While Republicans know there is no one-size-fits-all federal solution to help put more effective teachers in the classroom, supporting the availability and acceptance of alternative certification programs is one way the public and private sectors can join together to ensure more students have access to a quality education from an extraordinary educator.
Cynthia Brown, Vice President for Education Policy at the Center for American Progress, agreed that alternative certification programs hold a lot of promise, but that there need to be policies in place to ensure that they are “high quality, innovative, and effective,” which also holds true for traditional teacher preparation programs. She suggested that Congress focus on teacher effectiveness rather than alternative routes to certification.
More Details on Career Academies Proposal
Last week Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke at the National Academy Foundation’s NEXT Conference about the President’s FY13 budget proposal to invest $1 billion in career academies. Funding at this level could increase the number of career academies by 3,000 and serve an additional 500,000 students.
According to Duncan, $200 million in grants to states would be available in FY13, and $400 million would be available in both FY14 and FY15. Grants to would total $4 million each to states, and would be given over a three year period. States would distribute those funds competitively to locals.
As part of the grant program, the Department of Education is proposing a definition of “career academy” that each state must use for the in-state competition:
- A career academy is a secondary school program as organized as a small learning community or school within a school to provide the support of a personalized learning environment.
- The academy must begin in ninth grade and combine credit-bearing academic and technical curriculum.
- The academy must organize curriculum around a career theme like those proposed by NAF — hospitality and tourism, IT, health, science, and engineering — and be aligned with states’ college- and career-ready standards.
- The academy must provide work-based learning and career exploration activities through partnerships with local employers.
- The academy must articulate entrance requirements of postsecondary education programs to ensure students graduate from high school ready to pursue a higher education degree or credential.
Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager