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S. 882 (114th): BEST Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 26, 2015.

Better Educator Support and Training Act or the BEST Act

Revises, and reauthorizes appropriations through FY2021 under, part A (Teacher and Principal Training and Recruiting Fund) of title II (Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).

Redesignates title II (Developing and Supporting Effective Educators for Disadvantaged Students) and its revised part A (Educator Equity, Professional Development, and Recruitment Fund) program.

Amends subpart 1 of part A to require each state applying for an allotment of part A funds to develop a state educator equity plan to improve the access of low-income and minority students to effective educators.

Requires states to use: (1) 95% of their allotment to make subgrants to local educational agencies (LEAs) under subpart 2; and (2) 2% to 5% of their allotment to develop and implement a plan to improve the effectiveness of principals in high-need schools, ensure that low-income and minority students have equitable access to profession ready principals, and implement a comprehensive strategy for educator development and support that includes, among other elements, the state educator equity plan.

Withholds administrative funds from a state's part A allotment if the state does not meet certain teacher preparation accountability provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Requires each LEA to use its subgrant under subpart 2 of part A to implement a comprehensive strategy for educator development and support that:

addresses gaps in the access of low-income and minority students to effective educators; targets assistance to schools identified as having the greatest need; implements evidence-based activities that provide support to new educators, such as comprehensive, multi-year induction programs; provides systematic, sustained, targeted, coherent, collaborative, and job-embedded professional development for all educators; provides feedback on the performance of new educators to local educator preparation programs; and develops and implements a professional growth and improvement system. Sets forth permissible subgrant activities.

Revises subpart 3 of part A to require each state, directly or through subgrants to institutions of higher education, LEAs, schools or colleges of education, nonprofit organizations, or partnerships of such entities, to use a portion of its remaining allotment to:

assist each teacher preparation program that has been identified as low-performing or that is at risk of being identified as such, and terminate programs identified as low-performing after such assistance and a period of time for program improvement has been provided. Set forth permissible subpart 3 activities.

Revises subpart 4 of part A to require states that receive an allotment under subpart 1, and LEAs that receive a subgrant under subpart 2, to report annually to the Secretary of Education and their state, respectively, on the performance and results of their respective programs under those subparts.

Authorizes the Secretary to withhold part A administrative funds from states that, for three consecutive academic years, demonstrate no progress in making student access to effective teachers more equitable.

Defines a "high-need LEA" for purposes of the national activities under subpart 5 of part A. Replaces the national teacher recruitment campaign with a program authorizing the Secretary to award grants to national nonprofit organizations for projects to: (1) recruit and select educators, or (2) prepare or provide professional enhancement activities for educators.

Redefines "professional development" under the ESEA as job-embedded comprehensive, sustained, targeted, intensive, evidence-based, and classroom-focused support and capacity-building for educators that strengthens classroom practice and increases student learning. Lists additional requirements for professional development activities.