New Thinking Necessary to Improve Teacher Quality

Recently there has been much more attention paid to the link between teacher quality and student achievement. The Educational Testing Service issued a paper on this subject which cites a number of factors that are important to improving teacher quality, including mentoring for new teachers, ongoing professional development to support teacher growth, and continued evaluation of teachers. The Teacher Professional Development Institutes (TPDI) would fit nicely into these findings as a way to improve the quality of teaching by exposing teachers to academic depth of university professors and the opportunity to learn from experienced and successful colleagues.

Teachers are on the front line in raising student achievement and therefore the quality of our teachers' preparation and skills is of the utmost importance to children's education and success. Both the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Higher Education Act (HEA) have provisions to help teachers improve their knowledge and professional skills to better enable our children to learn. While NCLB creates standards for professionals to meet, Title II of the HEA authorizes several programs intended to improve the quality of training and preparation that prospective K-12 teachers receive. These programs will be funded with individual grants, partnership grants to states and local education agencies, and teacher recruitment grants.

The Teacher Professional Development Institutes Act would amend the HEA to authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to TPDIs to encourage the establishment and operation of TPDIs and provide technical assistance to assist local educational agencies and institutions of higher education in establishing TPDIs. The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute is a model for the program this legislation proposes, and its proven success a reason to create additional TPDIs. We need great depth of education in subject matter and more thinking outside the box as to approach.

As we look toward the reauthorization of the HEA this year, I will work with Representative DeLauro for the inclusion of Teacher Professional Development Institutes to encourage the new thinking necessary to improve teacher quality and student achievement.