Public education experienced major political and social change in 2017. NCTR looked back on the year’s most important teacher preparation news and rediscovered seven stories that changed the landscape for teacher residencies.

7. Teacher Student Debt

In July, NPR Education shared trends in student debt for teachers when it released the results of its first Teacher Student Debt Survey. Polling 2,000 teacher-respondents, NPR found shared chronic concerns over: 1) teacher pay amid calls to improve teacher quality; 2) the rising cost of higher education; 3) the increasing reliance on loans to pay for it; and 4) changing policies from the Trump administration.” Read more about the full findings of the survey in Education Week. Listen to anecdotal stories about teachers and student debt on NPR.

6. An Update on Teacher Demographics

The pool of teachers in the United States grew, but remained predominantly white and female, according to a 2015-16 survey. “Characteristics of Public Elementary and Secondary School Teachers In The United States: Results From 2015-16 National Teacher and Principal Survey, First Look” (First Look) showed that there are 3.8 million public school teachers in the United States, which is up from the 3.4 million teachers surveyed four years ago, according to Education Week.

The new data also showed that the overall population of white teachers has decreased and the percentage of Hispanic teachers has increased since the last survey. Education Week reports, “about 80 percent of teachers are white, a decrease from 82 percent in 2012. And now 9 percent of teachers are Hispanic, up from 8 percent previously.”

  • The survey showed:
    80% of public school teachers were white, 9% were Hispanic, 7% were black, and 2% were Asian;
  • 77% of teachers were female and 23% were male;
  • Teachers had an average of 14 years of experience, and;
  • The average base salary for teachers was $55,100.

Read more about the changing demographics of the teacher workforce and how it impacts students in GOOD Education.

5. Louisiana Begins Statewide Integration of Teacher Residencies

By July 2018, all of Louisiana’s teacher preparation programs will include yearlong residencies. Louisiana’s Department of Education announced that it was beginning its search for a pilot group of mentor teacher-trainees last August, and initially aimed to recruit 500 teachers, with a projected 2,000 or more mentors to be trained later. The mentor training is designed to build much needed teacher-residency related infrastructure, according to The Advocate. Read more about Louisiana’s mentor training kick-off in The Daily Comet and The News Star.

4. The Trump Administration’s Education Budget

In May, the Trump Administration proposed to shave nearly 13 percent from the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) FY18 budget, including a $2 billion cut eliminating Title II teacher preparation and development support. In discussing the cut to teacher development funding, Education Week wrote that “Trump’s budget says the Title II grant money is ‘spread too thinly to have a meaningful impact on student outcomes.” USA Today reported that the FY18 budget includes a $1.4 billion increase, for a total of $20 billion, which is dedicated to school choice programs. Find an easy-to-read infographic on the FY18 budget proposal here.

3. The PROSPER Act

This month, the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. The bill reauthorizes the Higher Education Act (HEA). The PROSPER Act has serious implications for teacher preparation, largely due to its rollback of Title II, the resulting elimination of the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program, and the elimination of TEACH grants and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. New America’s analysis of the PROSPER Act describes the elimination of Title II as one of the “greatest departures” from HEA.

Read the Committee on Education and the Workforce’s press release announcing the PROSPER Act, and find a fact sheet about the bill here.

2. Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary

In February, in an unprecedented 50-50 split which resulted in Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. The vote marked the first time in history that a vice president was “summoned to the Capitol to break a tie on a cabinet nomination,” according to the New York Times.

1. ESSA Implementation Plans Submitted

States and the District of Columbia submitted their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation plans to the Department of Education in April and May of 2017, with a second round in October. Based on input from a wide range of stakeholders, states looked at ways to utilize federal supports to ensure students have access to the most effective teachers, and teachers have the tools they need to be successful.

After the plans became available for public review, organizations like Bellwether Education Partners, the Collaborative for Student Success, Alliance for Education, National Council on Teacher Quality and the Brookings Institution reviewed the submissions to understand their overall strengths and weaknesses, and to determine whether elements like educator equity and benchmarks for federal accountability were present.