Higher Education Act Reauthorization Expected in 2016

Just before the New Year, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Educator Preparation Reform Act (S. 2419) aimed at better preparing teachers, principals, and other educators to be effective and profession-ready on day one. In announcing the introduction of the bill, Senator Reed cited the body of evidence that shows the impact teachers and principals have on student achievement and also warned of the looming shortage of teachers and principals prepared to serve in high-need schools. Senator Casey also discussed the correlation between what students learn and what they earn later in life.

NASSP endorsed this legislation in the 113th Congress, and after submitting minor policy recommendations to Senator Reed’s staff that were included in the updated version, NASSP again supports this bill.

One of the goals of the legislation is to make significant improvements to the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants in Title II of the Higher Education Act. These improvements include expanding the residency programs to include principals and providing partnerships flexibility in meeting the instructional needs of local school districts.

DWB_9602-X3Currently, the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants provide funding for high-need LEAs, partnerships between higher education institutions, and the recruitment and preparation of teachers who commit to serve three years in a high-need school. S. 2419 would expand the grant program to allow partnerships that prepare principals as well as other educators needed by districts such as librarians, literacy specialists, and school counselors.

The bill also reforms the TEACH Grants, found in Title IV of the Higher Education Act. These grants provide up to $4,000 a year to students completing coursework in teaching in exchange for four years of service teaching a high-need subject at a low-income school. Currently, recipients must pay back the full award if they do not meet the four-year teaching requirement, but S. 2419 will amend this to allow partial payback for students completing only one to three years.

Now that the Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177) has been signed into law, NASSP will focus on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), which should have been reauthorized in 2013.

In addition to the Education Preparation Reform Act and changing regulations around certifications for educators teaching dual and concurrent enrollment courses, NASSP will be pushing for the Recruiting and Retaining Effective School Leaders Act (H.R. 3925), which was introduced in November by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA). This bill would provide loan forgiveness over a seven-year period to elementary, middle, and high school principals and assistant principals who work in schools where at least 30 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. More information on H.R. 3925 can be found in a press release on the NASSP website.

NASSP will be following the expected reauthorization of HEA closely, and will keep you informed here on the School of Thought blog.

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