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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. REED. Mr. President, we rely on our public schools to prepare the next generation for success as citizens, workers, and innovators. We have asked educators to raise the bar and educate all students to internationally competitive college and career-ready standards. To achieve these goals, we need to focus on the professionals who have the greatest impact on student learning at school--teachers and principals.

Today, I am pleased to be reintroducing the Educator Preparation Reform Act with Representative Honda to improve how we prepare teachers, principals, and other educators so that they can be effective right from the start. We have also reintroduced the Effective Teaching and Leading Act to support teachers, librarians, and principals currently on the job through a comprehensive system of induction, professional development, and evaluation.

The Educator Preparation Reform Act builds on the success of the Teacher Quality Partnership Program, which I helped author in the 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The legislation we are reintroducing today places specific attention and emphasis on principals with the addition of a residency program for new principals.

Improving instruction is a team effort, with principals at the helm. This bill better connects teacher preparation with principal preparation. The Educator Preparation Reform Act will also allow partnerships to develop preparation programs for other areas of instructional need, such as for school librarians, counselors, or other academic support professionals.

The bill also revamps the accountability and reporting requirements for teacher preparation programs to provide greater transparency on key quality measures such as admissions standards, requirements for clinical practice, placement of graduates, retention in the field of teaching, and teacher performance, including student learning outcomes. All programs--whether traditional or alternative routes to certification--will be asked to report on the same measures.

Under our legislation, states will be required to identify at-risk and low-performing programs and provide them with technical assistance and a timeline for improvement. States would be encouraged to close programs that do not improve.

The Educator Preparation Reform Act refocuses the state set-aside for higher education in Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on technical assistance for struggling teacher preparation programs and the development of systems for assessing the quality and effectiveness of professional development programs. At the same time, it allows for activities to support the development and implementation of performance assessments to measure new teachers' readiness for the classroom and enhance professional development in the core academic areas.

We have been fortunate to work with many stakeholders on this legislation. Organizations that have endorsed the Educator Preparation Reform Act include: The Alliance for Excellent Education, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Council on Education, American Psychological Association, Association of American Universities, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, First Focus Campaign for Children, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Science Teachers Association, National School Boards Association Opportunity to Learn Action Fund, Public Education Network, Rural School and Community Trust, Silicon Valley Education Foundation, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, The Higher Education Task Force, National Association of Elementary School Principals, and National Association of Secondary School Principals.

I look forward to working to incorporate this legislation into the upcoming reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act. I urge my colleagues to join in this effort and support this legislation.

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Mr. REED. Mr. President, today I am reintroducing the Effective Teaching and Leading Act to foster the development of highly skilled and effective educators.

In the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA, building the capacity of our Nation's schools to enhance the effectiveness of teachers, principals, school librarians, and other school leaders must be among our top priorities.

Decades of research have demonstrated that improving educator and principal quality as well as greater family involvement are the keys to raising student achievement and turning around struggling schools. To strengthen teaching and school leadership, the Effective Teaching and Leading Act would amend Title II of ESEA to provide targeted assistance to schools to develop and support effective teachers, principals, school librarians, and school leaders through implementation of comprehensive induction, professional development, and evaluation systems.

Every year across the country thousands of teachers leave the profession--many within their first years of teaching. An estimate by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future of the nationwide cost of replacing public school teachers who have dropped out of the profession is $7.3 billion annually.

There are proven and well-documented strategies to support teachers that will keep them in our schools. Evidence has shown that providing teachers with comprehensive mentoring and support during their first two years of teaching reduces attrition by as much as half and increases student learning gains. The Effective Teaching and Leading Act would help schools implement the key elements of effective multi-year mentoring and induction for beginning teachers.

The bill also significantly revises the definition of ``professional development'' in current law to foster an ongoing culture of teacher, principal, school librarian, and staff collaboration throughout schools. All too often the available professional development still consists of isolated, check-the-box activities instead of helping educators engage in sustained professional learning that is regularly evaluated for its impact on classroom practice and student achievement. Effective professional development is collaborative, job-embedded, and informed by data.

It is also clear that evaluation systems have an important role to play in educator development. Through Race to the Top, ESEA waivers, and other initiatives many states and school systems are focusing on reforming their evaluation systems. When evaluation is done right, it provides educators with individualized ongoing feedback on their strengths and weaknesses and offers a path to improvement. The Effective Teaching and Leading Act would require school districts to establish rigorous, fair, and transparent evaluation systems that use multiple measures, including growth in student achievement.

Principals and school leaders also play a leading role in school improvement efforts and managing a collaborative culture of ongoing professional learning and development. Research has shown that leadership is second only to classroom instruction among school-related factors that influence student outcomes. As such, this bill would provide ongoing high-quality professional development to principals and school leaders, including multi-year induction and mentoring for new administrators.

Recognizing the importance of creating career advancement and leadership opportunities for teachers, the Effective Teaching and Leading Act supports opportunities for teachers to serve as mentors, instructional coaches, or master teachers, or take on increased responsibility for professional development, curriculum, or school improvement activities. It also calls for significant and sustainable stipends for educators that take on these new roles and responsibilities.

The bill also requires school districts to conduct surveys of the working and learning conditions educators face so this data could be used to better target investments and professional development support.

Improving teaching and school leadership is not simply a matter of sorting the good teachers and principals from the bad. What is needed is a comprehensive and integrated approach that supports new teachers and leaders as they enter the profession; provides on-going professional development that helps them improve and their students achieve; and that fairly assesses performance and provides feedback for improvement. This is the approach taken by the Effective Teaching and Leading Act.

I worked with a range of education organizations in developing this bill, including the Alliance for Excellent Education, American Federation of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers; American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; National Association of Elementary School Principals; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; Learning Forward; the National Commission for Teaching and America's Future, and the New Teacher Center. I thank them for their input and support for the bill.

I thank Congressman Mike Honda of California for introducing the companion bill in the House. I encourage my colleagues to cosponsor the Effective Teaching and Leading Act and work for its inclusion in the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

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