The Equal Access to Quality Education Act will provide teachers with the training, mentorships, resources, and high-quality professional development necessary to succeed in our nation’s high-need schools. This is important to NCLD because effective teachers will know how to implement the supports that students with LD need in the classroom. Students with LD who are taught by fully prepared and qualified teachers have an increased chance of achieving at the same level as their peers without LD.
Included in the Act is a grant program to develop and strengthen high-quality pathways into the teaching profession, especially in high-needs schools. This is especially important now, as school budgets face cuts from sequestration.
The Act’s innovative plan for training and retaining teachers includes creating public-private partnerships between high-need K-12 schools and schools of education to create a high quality “teacher pipeline.” Teachers in this pipeline would be required to attend a residency program that inducts them into the first years of teaching. Schools would be required to provide continuous professional development by establishing mentorship and guidance programs to help new teachers succeed. The Act also invests in expanding and strengthening programs that provide specialized training to special education and bilingual teachers. Together, these initiatives will lead to a corps of teachers who are fully trained and prepared to meet the needs of all learners, including those with LD.
“A student’s ability to reach their academic potential should not be determined by the school they attend,” said Congresswoman Chu. “But today, we have the most inexperienced teachers being thrown into the highest needs schools. Every student, no matter their background, deserves a fully prepared and qualified teacher. And half of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years, often because they don’t get the support they need to succeed. That’s why this bill is so critical – it will strengthen the expertise of teachers, allowing them to better serve all students. I am thrilled to be joined by Congressman Hinojosa in ensuring teachers are prepared to provide students with a pathway to a better life.”