This story was revised at 4:00pm on 10/20/2016. Additions/revisions are shown below in red.
The Department of Education (ED) has released an advanced copy of final rules concerning teacher preparation programs and the TEACH Grant Program, to be published in the Federal Register in the next few days. The package includes a new part 612 to be added to education regulations that define how states must assess the quality of teacher preparation programs, and concomitant reporting requirements. Those rules in turn will ultimately impact the determination of TEACH Grant eligibility for institutions and academic programs under the existent part 686.
Rules impacting state assessments and reporting under part 612 are effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register; however, reporting under the new system definitions will not occur until the Title II reporting cycle in 2018 if the state elects to do a pilot, or 2019 in all cases. New definitions of institutional and program eligibility for the TEACH Grant Program under part 686 do not go into effect until the 2021-22 award year. However, other adjustments to TEACH Grant rules become effective July 1, 2017.
Among the regulatory amendments effective July 1, 2017, are:
The rules clarify that “low-income school” includes an educational service agency, defined as a regional public multiservice agency authorized by state statute to develop, manage, and provide services or programs to local educational agencies (LEAs).
Note, however, that this grandfathering applies to loss of TEACH-specific program eligibility, not to the loss of all Title IV eligibility that would occur if a state withdraws its approval of the academic program. Loss of TEACH-specific program eligibility under the new rules defining high-quality programs will not occur until the 2021-22 academic year at the earliest, although a program may lose TEACH-specific eligibility for other reasons before that.
Among the regulatory amendments effective July 1, 2021, are the following:
TEACH Grant-Eligible Institution and TEACH Grant-Eligible Program
Effective July 1, 2021, an institution will be eligible to participate in the TEACH Grant Program if it provides at least one high-quality teacher preparation program, which may be a distance education program, at the baccalaureate or master’s level, that also provides supervision and support services to teachers, or assists in the provision of services to teachers. A high-quality teacher preparation program is generally one that is not classified by the state as less than an “effective teacher preparation program” in two of the previous three years.
An “effective teacher preparation program” is defined in the new part 612 as a teacher preparation program with a level of performance higher than a low-performing teacher preparation program or an at-risk teacher preparation program. Whether a program is low-performing or at risk of being low-performing is determined by the state according to the conditions the state establishes for the assessment of teacher preparation performance. Those conditions must be based on parameters set forth by ED in new part 612. The conditions may vary by state, but must be established in consultation with a representative group of stakeholders. Each state must assess, for each teacher preparation program within its jurisdiction, indicators of academic content knowledge and teaching skills of novice teachers from that program; the final regulations provide certain minimum indicators for that assessment.
If a program that was eligible as a high-quality teacher preparation program subsequently fails the two out of the three-year test of effectiveness, it loses TEACH-specific program eligibility, subject to the grandfathering clause noted above.
A school will no longer qualify if it provides a program in a high-need field but arranges for the teacher preparation coursework to be provided by another institution. Eligibility may continue to be based on a two-year transfer program, with certain clarifications, or a post-baccalaureate program.
The revised definition clarifies other current statutory provisions that allow eligibility based on a master’s degree program, other than a “high quality teacher preparation program,” if it prepares a teacher or a retiree from another occupation with expertise in a high-need field or a teacher who is using high-quality alternative certification routes to become certified.
The definitions of TEACH Grant-eligible institutions and programs in part 686 (the TEACH Grant Program regulations) will no longer refer to specialized accreditation or approval by a state and minimum content criteria, but these factors will not go away. They are instead subsumed into the new part 612 as one of the indicators of the state’s assessment of teacher preparation programs [under 612.5(a)].
Effective July 1, 2021, a teacher preparation program that loses state approval or state financial support as a result of being assessed by the state as low-performing under these new rules, also loses eligibility for the Title IV programs, including TEACH Grants.
Part 612, Title II Reporting System
As noted above, part 612 is new and establishes regulations related to the teacher preparation program accountability system under Title II of the Higher Education Act (HEA). It includes:
Publication Date: 10/20/2016