The Senate passed two resolutions last week that, with the president’s signature, have repealed Obama administration regulations:
NAfME at Forefront in Support for Repeal of Teacher Prep Rules
The first is the Teacher Preparation Program Rules related to the Higher Education Act. These regulations, at least five years in the making, required each state to issue annual ratings for teacher-prep programs within their borders. These annual ratings were to be based on measures of student growth attached to novice teachers and then connected back to the teacher preparation program they attended. However, the process by which this would occur, and how small teacher prep programs such as music education would be included, was complex, expensive, and at times confusing. In addition, the regulations were considered an example of federal overreach at a time where lawmakers have worked in a bipartisan manner to provide flexibility to states and school districts under the ESSA.
NAfME in partnership with the Association’s two higher education societies, the Society for Research in Music Education and the Society for Music Teacher Education, has been at the forefront of opposing these burdensome regulations and commends Congress for quickly passing this legislation that will rightly shift teacher preparation accountability to the responsibility of the states. NAfME will work with Congress should teacher preparation standards be discussed in during a Higher Education Act reauthorization.
ESSA Accountability Rules Repealed and Reissued
The second set of rules repealed by Congress is the accountability and state plan regulations created by the Obama Administration under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In August 2016, NAfME submitted comments to the Department of Education (ED), which expressed multiple concerns, particularly on the narrow definition of accountability indicators, which could unintentionally reduce student access to music and arts due to a heavy focus on tested subjects. NAfME suggested to broaden the definition and include measures “likely to increase student access to and participation in well-rounded education subject areas.” Unfortunately, this suggestion was not included in the final version of the rules. The final version of the rules did, however, offer protections for minority students, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families—all areas NAfME has and will continue to strongly support.
Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released a new application for states to use in developing their ESSA accountability plans. Some major differences include fewer requirements around reaching out to various groups in the state for their feedback, and the flexibility to create their own template with the help of the Council of Chief School Officers as long as the same information is provided.
NAfME will continue to monitor ESSA state plan timelines and will review and provide guidance for music educators on the updated state ESSA plan template later this week. At the state level, the Association continues to monitor draft state ESSA plans, and several states are currently looking at measures of access and participation in music and the arts as part of their state ESSA plans or other accountability system revision, including AZ, CA, CO, CT, MA and MI. NAfME will also be active with both Congress and the federal Department of Education to address the gaps that may need to be filled without the ESSA Accountability rules in place to better support a well-rounded education, including music for all students.
Tooshar Swain, Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, March 14, 2017. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)