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Policymakers and researchers have focused on improving the quality of our nation's 3 million teachers to raise the achievement of students in key academic areas, such as reading and mathematics. Given the importance of teacher quality to student achievement and the key role federal and state governments play in supporting teacher quality, GAO's objectives included examining (1) the extent that the U.S. Department of Education (Education) funds and coordinates teacher quality programs, (2) studies that Education conducts on teacher quality and how it provides and coordinates research-related assistance to states and school districts, and (3) challenges to collaboration within states and how Education helps address those challenges. GAO interviewed experts and Education officials, administered surveys to officials at state educational agencies and state agencies for higher education in the fall of 2008, and conducted site visits to three states.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Education To ensure that departmental goals to improve teacher quality are achieved and that the department's many related efforts are mutually reinforcing, the Secretary of Education should establish and implement a strategy for sustained coordination among existing departmental offices and programs. A key purpose of this coordination would be to facilitate information and resource sharing as well as strengthening linkages among teacher quality improvement efforts to help states, school districts, and institutions of higher education in their initiatives to improve teacher quality.
Closed - Implemented
According to Department of Education officials, they are conducting inter-office, regular monthly meetings among teacher quality programs to share information and devise ways to compile the information and disseminate it internally and externally. The meetings provide an opportunity for representatives from each of the program offices to report on their specific programs, share resources, and coordinate with other program offices. For tasks generated by meeting discussions, the Department is organizing technical working groups to accomplish these tasks. Moreover, topical meetings will be conducted to further inform the group on current research, policy and other events.

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