- Within the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states are authorized to set up a new kind of teacher-preparation “academies” that can operate without states' standard regulations, creating concern about a potential lowering of the bar for teacher standards and a lack of clear guidelines over state oversight and accountability.
- Ed Week blogger Stephen Sawchuk claims that the bill’s teacher-prep provisions are “the brainchild of folks at the New Schools Venture Fund,” and that they were created in the model of the Relay Graduate School of Education, the Match Teacher Residency, and Urban Teachers.
- According to Sawchuk, the current provision was based on a previous failed bill about voluntary teacher training academies called the GREAT Act.
Teacher prep has long been a focus of the U.S. Department of Education, since improving the quality of teaching is one definitive and clear-cut way to improve student learning. Yet states have gone about this in various ways, which critics say the new teacher-prep provision in the ESSA doesn’t address.
Specific teacher prep programs that have been highlighted by the Department of Education are Alabama's "Professional Pathways for Alabama Teachers" tiered certification pilot and the Michigan Teacher Corps. Educators in Wisconsin have petitioned Gov. Scott Walker to drop an initiative to lower teaching standards, and in Missouri, the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has taken a twofold approach in creating “yearly report cards that will score every program in the state” and requiring repeated testing for teachers before they become certified.