- The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that 17 states and the District of Columbia have had access plans approved under its Excellent Educators for All Initiative.
- The initiative aims to guarantee equal access to high-quality education for all students, and the approved plans include strategies for eliminating gaps by addressing localized problems.
- According to a release from the department, among the plans are solutions that support, strengthen, or modify teacher prep programs; boost data-driven decision-making; offer teachers incentives to excel or continue working in high-need schools; and publicly report progress in closing equity gaps.
Among the 17 states gaining approval are: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
Specific programs highlighted in the release include Alabama's "Professional Pathways for Alabama Teachers" tiered certification pilot, the Michigan Teacher Corps, New Jersey's Educator Preparation Provider Annual Reports, Tennessee's Human Capital Data Report, and salary increases and financial incentives across several states and the District of Columbia.
Efforts to close the equity gap will likely receive a larger spotlight in the coming months, as outgoing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his successor, John King Jr., on Monday touted continued improvement in graduation rates and a narrowing of achievement gaps in more than half of states.
In Thursday's release, Duncan said, "All parents understand that strong teaching is fundamental to strong opportunities for their children. We as a country should treat that opportunity as a right that every family has—regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin, zip code, wealth, or first language."
The move follows last month's approval of plans in 16 other states, which included Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.