Time to Improve

How Federal Policy Can Promote Better Prepared Teachers and School Leaders

While educator preparation has always been important, it is now more important than ever. Currently, there are more first year teachers in the United States than teachers of any other experience level—and at many schools, most of the teachers have only been teaching for a few years. Meanwhile, the skills and responsibilities expected of educators are expanding, as higher standards and new technologies are implemented to improve student learning.

While expectations for PreK-12 educators have changed substantially, many of the programs that prepare educators have remained stagnant. Much of the responsibility for this rests with the preparation programs themselves, but states and the federal government have each played a role as well.

In Time to Improve, New America’s Melissa Tooley and Laura Bornfreund offer recommendations for a new federal approach to addressing current issues with educator preparation and advancement policies that recognize the need to move quickly, yet thoughtfully, to promote better prepared teachers and school leaders.

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Laura Bornfreund is director of early & elementary education policy with the Education Policy program at New America. She leads a team of writers and analysts to conduct policy research and analysis and put forth new ideas for improving children’s birth-through-third grade learning experiences.

Melissa Tooley is the director of Educator Quality with New America's Education Policy program. She is a member of the PreK-12 team, where she provides research and analysis on PreK-12 policies and practices that impact teaching quality and school leadership.