As 2016 draws to a close, NCTR looks back on the year’s most interesting teacher preparation news – those stories which are likely to shape the trajectory of the field for years to come. These six areas were of particular importance to building momentum around the teacher residency model and effective clinical preparation nationwide. In no particular order, NCTR presents its Top Six Teacher Preparation New Stories of 2016:

1) The Every Student Succeeds Act: The Future of Teacher Preparation Under ESSA

Finalized in 2016, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) creates new opportunities for states, universities, and nonprofit organizations to accelerate the impact of quality teacher preparation through the launch and scale of teacher residency programs. The Department of Education (Department) released guidance to support the launch of residencies as a significant part of a systems approach to increase teacher quality, improve teacher preparation, and ensure that our highest need students have access to effective educators.

Speculation on ESSA’s impact:

The Department released a draft of ESSA accountability rules, requested comments from the education community, and received over 20,000 responses:

The Department released its Final Guidance on ESSA, requiring new reporting by states on program effectiveness, which moves beyond their basic annual reporting requirements under the Higher Education Act:

2) Looming Teacher Shortages Made Headlines Across the Country

Teacher shortages are at their highest since the 1990s, and several states remarked on the urgent need for effective teachers in their public schools.

3) The Teacher Residency Model Gains Popularity in Response to Shortages

In response to teacher shortages across the country, the education community began to reconsider the needs not only of prospective teacher candidates, but also their students; the schools, districts and communities they would serve; and the institutions of higher learning that prepare them. Given that the teacher residency model meets the needs of all the above named constituents, stakeholders looked deeply at the model as a way to prepare highly effective teachers.

4) Teacher Residency Programs Launch Across the Country

Lawmakers in several states enacted legislation that would create opportunities to increase the number, quality and diversity of prospective teachers, especially in high-needs communities and within specific subject areas like special education, ESL, and STEM subjects. Even in areas where the states did not mandate increased and improved teacher preparation, local organizations banded together to support the launch of teacher residencies in their communities.

California and the California State University system

Rural Colorado

Kansas City, MO

Louisiana

New York, NY

After a rigorous application process, NCTR selected its U.S. Department of Education Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant partners; four high-needs school district and higher education partnerships which received funding through the grant and are now participating in our New Site Development Program.

McCormick County, SC

McCormick County Teacher Residency

Nashville, TN

Metro Nashville Urban Teacher Residency  &  Nashville Teacher Residency

New Orleans, LA

Norman C. Francis Teacher Residency Program

5) Diversity Remains at the Forefront of the Teacher Recruitment Conversation

The need for increased teacher diversity is top of mind for most education advocates. This year marked the 50-year anniversary of the 700+ page report commissioned by the Department of Education on racial inequity in public schools. James S. Coleman’s “Equality of Education Opportunity“, dubbed The Coleman Report, raised important concerns about the achievement gap, segregated schools, testing, college enrollment and the effectiveness of teachers. As more and more research indicates, there is a sharp imbalance in teacher diversity — one that does not match the demographic makeup of the general American student population. This year, the Albert Shanker Institute released “The State of Teacher Diversity in American Education,” which showed racial imbalances in the teaching force still persist to this day.

6) Teacher Advocacy Organizations Join Together to Elevate Teacher Preparation through TeachStrong

2016 marked an important shift in legislation and policy conversations concerning teacher preparation and effectiveness. Much of the conversation was led by TeachStrong, a diverse coalition of education leaders from across the country, including NCTR, dedicated to modernizing and elevating the teacher profession

While 2017 is sure to bring many new successes and challenges, NCTR looks back on 2016 with appreciation for the progress made around the recruitment, preparation, and support of effective teachers in the U.S. – and for our many partners and collaborators in this incredibly important effort. Onward!