A new bill by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) would authorize $500 million for the Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants program of the Higher Education Act to enhance teacher recruitment, retention, preparation and professional development, and to provide support for teachers and principals. The bill would also add much-needed support for principals, early childhood education providers, and ongoing opportunities for educator training and retraining. The bill’s residency program would provide an induction program for all new general education and special education teachers during their first three years on the job.
The current Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants program is much smaller. Senator Reed’s bill-the Preparing, Recruiting, and Retaining Education Professionals (PRREP) Act of 2004, or S. 2335-would increase the program dramatically by increasing the funding directed to Partnership and Recruitment Grants. Teacher Recruitment Grants, which make up 10 percent of the current program, fund scholarships to help students pay the costs of tuition, room and board, and other expenses associated with completing a teacher preparation program.
“Highly qualified teachers are essential to providing students with a strong, quality education,” Reed said. “This bill will provide federal support to help school districts and state and local governments meet the needs of providing a quality education to students.”
Sen. Reed’s PRREP Act is an innovative bill that helps to address the serious problem of high teacher turnover and lack of high-quality teachers, which is even more of a problem in high-poverty schools. According to a 2002 Education Trust study, 34 percent of teachers in high-poverty secondary schools lack subject matter expertise. In low-poverty secondary schools, 19 percent of teachers lack expertise in the subject they teach.
According to a four-year national evaluation of Partnership Grants, 75 percent of participating districts credit the program with improving recruitment, 61 percent credit the program with strengthening teacher qualifications, and 56 percent report reduced teacher attrition and turnover among newly hired teachers.
According to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, one of the primary reasons teachers leave the profession is lack of support. Additionally, data from the 2000 School and Staffing Survey published by the National Center of Education Statistics show that within the first five years of teaching, 46 percent of new teachers leave the profession. The PRREP Act would create a residency induction program for new teachers, which would use effective, research-based best practices to provide ongoing training, mentoring, and professional development during a teacher’s first three years of teaching.
Induction programs have been shown to improve the retention of new teachers and improve teacher quality. A study by Richard Ingersoll, an associate professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, shows that teachers who participate in comprehensive induction programs have half the attrition rates as teachers who do not. Additional studies show that teachers in induction programs use practices that improve student achievement and motivate students to engage in productive learning activities.
For more information on the PRREP Act, including a press release and bill summary, visithttp://reed.senate.gov/press108th/Education/relprrepact04-22-04.htm.