President Trump signed into law on March 27 a joint resolution to nullify U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulations relating to teacher preparation programs pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA). As noted in its Statement of Administration Policy, the White House “strongly supports the actions taken . . . to begin to nullify unnecessary regulations” and highlighted the rule on teacher preparation programs as one that “impose[d] new burdensome and costly data reporting requirements on States and institutions of higher education.”
The now-defunct rule had established baseline requirements for States to collect, evaluate, and share data on the quality of teacher preparation programs as evidenced by novice teachers’ retention and performance. Programs that did not meet those standards would risk losing access to federal student financial aid. The Obama Administration had anticipated that this data would provide greater transparency to multiple stakeholders, including higher education institutions, prospective teachers, and elementary and secondary schools. More information on the rule can be found in our previous client advisory.
Regulations concerning teacher preparation programs had been years in the making. After convening a negotiated rulemaking committee in 2012, ED issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2014 and a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in early 2016. Even so, the October 2016 final rule elicited much commentary, reflecting a broader continuing controversy over ED’s authority to issue certain types of regulations. Commenters expressed a range of concerns regarding federalism; academic freedom; administrative costs; and the wide latitude given to States to create evaluative criteria, potentially linking teacher preparation program quality to the achievement outcomes of elementary and secondary school students taught by program graduates.
Under the CRA, as a result of the joint resolution, ED cannot promulgate any substantially similar rule unless specifically authorized by law to do so.