Professional Development in the New ECAA; Every Child Achieves Act of 2015

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A few weeks ago, the United States Senate passed their version of the re-authroization of the “No Child Left Behind” Law (See my story on that: ECAA; Every Child Achieves Act of 2015). Although this version and the House version will have to be reconciled for its differences, a new part of the ECAA in the Senate version is worth noting on professional development.

This new part is the extent to which teachers are to be trained, supported, and sustained as they do their work. Although the field has long recognized this need, the definitions in the new bill are exciting to see proposed into the law. I quote from that Senate version below:

‘‘(30) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.—The

13 term ‘professional development’ may include activi-

14 ties that—

15 ‘‘(A) improve and increase teachers’ knowl-

16 edge of the academic subjects the teachers

17 teach;

18 ‘‘(B) are an integral part of broad

19 schoolwide and districtwide educational im-

20 provement plans;

21 ‘‘(C) give teachers, principals, other school

22 leaders, and administrators the knowledge and

23 skills to provide students with the opportunity

24 to meet challenging State academic standards;

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1 ‘‘(D) improve classroom management

2 skills;

3 ‘‘(E)(i) are high quality, sustained, inten-

4 sive, and classroom-focused in order to have a

5 positive and lasting impact on classroom in-

6 struction and the teacher’s performance in the

7 classroom; and

8 ‘‘(ii) are not 1-day or short-term work-

9 shops or conferences;

10 ‘‘(F) support the recruiting, hiring, and

11 training of effective teachers, including teachers

12 who became certified through State and local

13 alternative routes to certification;

14 ‘‘(G) advance teacher understanding of ef-

15 fective instructional strategies that are—

16 ‘‘(i) based on scientifically valid re-

17 search; and

18 ‘‘(ii) strategies for improving student

19 academic achievement or substantially in-

20 creasing the knowledge and teaching skills

21 of teachers; and

22 ‘‘(H) are aligned with and directly related

23 to—

24 ‘‘(i) challenging State academic stand-

25 ards and assessments; and

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1 ‘‘(ii) the curricula and programs tied

2 to the standards described in clause (i);

3 ‘‘(I) are developed with extensive participa-

4 tion of teachers, principals, other school leaders,

5 parents, and administrators of schools to be

6 served under this Act;

7 ‘‘(J) are designed to give teachers of chil-

8 dren who are English learners, and other teach-

9 ers and instructional staff, the knowledge and

10 skills to provide instruction and appropriate

11 language and academic support services to

12 those children, including the appropriate use of

13 curricula and assessments;

14 ‘‘(K) to the extent appropriate, provide

15 training for teachers, principals, and other

16 school leaders in the use of technology so that

17 technology and technology applications are ef-

18 fectively used in the classroom to improve

19 teaching and learning in the curricula and aca-

20 demic subjects in which the teachers teach;

21 ‘‘(L) as a whole, are regularly evaluated

22 for their impact on increased teacher effective-

23 ness and improved student academic achieve-

24 ment, with the findings of the evaluations used

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1 to improve the quality of professional develop-

2 ment;

3 ‘‘(M) provide instruction in methods of

4 teaching children with special needs;

5 ‘‘(N) include instruction in the use of data

6 and assessments to inform and instruct class-

7 room practice;

8 ‘‘(O) include instruction in ways that

9 teachers, principals, other school leaders, spe-

10 cialized instructional support personnel, and

11 school administrators may work more effectively

12 with parents;

13 ‘‘(P) involve the forming of partnerships

14 with institutions of higher education to estab-

15 lish school-based teacher, principal, and school

16 leader training programs that provide prospec-

17 tive teachers, novice teachers, principals, and

18 other school leaders with an opportunity to

19 work under the guidance of experienced teach-

20 ers, principals, and other school leaders, and

21 college faculty;

22 ‘‘(Q) create programs to enable paraprofes-

23 sionals (assisting teachers employed by a local

24 educational agency receiving assistance under

25 part A of title I) to obtain the education nec-

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1 essary for those paraprofessionals to become

2 certified and licensed teachers; and

3 ‘‘(R) provide follow-up training to teachers

4 who have participated in activities described in

5 this paragraph that are designed to ensure that

6 the knowledge and skills learned by the teachers

7 are implemented in the classroom.’’;

8 (10) by inserting after paragraph (30), as re-

9 designated by paragraph (2), the following:

10 ‘‘(31) SCHOOL LEADER.—The term ‘school

11 leader’ means a principal, assistant principal, or

12 other individual who is—

13 ‘‘(A) an employee or officer of an elemen-

14 tary school or secondary school, local edu-

15 cational agency, or other entity operating the

16 elementary school or secondary school; and

17 ‘‘(B) responsible for the daily instructional

18 leadership and managerial operations of the ele-

19 mentary school or secondary school.

20 ‘‘(32) SCIENTIFICALLY VALID RESEARCH.—The

21 term ‘scientifically valid research’ includes applied

22 research, basic research, and field-initiated research

23 in which the rationale, design, and interpretation are

24 soundly developed in accordance with the principles

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1 of scientific research (as defined in section 637 of

2 the Head Start Act).’’;

3 (11) by inserting after paragraph (34), as re-

4 designated by paragraph (2), the following:

5 ‘‘(35) SPECIALIZED INSTRUCTIONAL SUPPORT

6 PERSONNEL; SPECIALIZED INSTRUCTIONAL SUPPORT

7 SERVICES.—

8 ‘‘(A) SPECIALIZED INSTRUCTIONAL SUP-

9 PORT PERSONNEL.—The term ‘specialized in-

10 structional support personnel’ means school

11 counselors, school social workers, school psy-

12 chologists, and other qualified professional per-

13 sonnel involved in providing assessment, diag-

14 nosis, counseling, educational, therapeutic, and

15 other necessary services (including related serv-

16 ices as that term is defined in section 602 of

17 the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

18 as part of a comprehensive program to meet

19 student needs.