How to Set Up and Prepare for Your Meetings

How to Set Up and Prepare for Your Meetings
with Your Legislative Delegation
1. Plan to attend the FACTE meeting on March 18th.
At this briefing, we will review talking points for your meetings and answer any questions you might have.
2. Try to schedule meetings with your Representatives on March 19th between 10:00a.m.-4:30p.m.
Do be flexible. If you are offered a different time, try to take it.
3. Learn about your State Legislators
Who are your State Senators? Who represents your district in the Florida House? What is their party affiliation?
What are their Committee assignments? Determine the answers to these questions and determine how they
affect your concerns.
To determine who your Representative is, visit:
To determine who your Senators are, visit:
4. Prioritize Meetings
We recommend setting up meetings with your legislative delegation. You may also want to meet with
Representatives from neighboring districts, particularly if your institution serves residents of many
congressional districts. If any members of your delegation serve on any of the following committees please
House: K-12, Post Secondary Education, Schools and Learning, Policy and Budget Committees
Senate: Education Pre-K-12, Education Pre-K-12 Appropriations, Higher Education, Higher Education
Appropriations Committees
5. Requesting a Meeting
Before making a verbal request for a meeting, it is a good idea to make a formal request in writing by
facsimile or e-mail. (A sample letter requesting a meeting is available.) Include a cover sheet with the
request letter.
Florida Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
6. Meeting Request Follow-Up
After submitting a meeting request, it is important to follow-up on that request with a phone call. Call the
office of your Senator or Representative, identify yourself, where you are from, the university you are with
and the organization you represent (FACTE). Ask the receptionist to direct your call to the scheduler.
When you are connected, again identify yourself and your affiliation. If the scheduler is not available, leave
a clear, concise message. An example of a conversation would be:
“Hi, my name is <<X>>. I am the Dean of the college of education at <<university>>. I am following up
on a scheduling request I sent earlier requesting to meet with Senator/Congressman <<X>> when I come to
Tallahassee on March 19th. I would like to talk with him/her about the teacher preparation program at my
institution and the initiatives we have underway to meet today’s demands for new teachers. I am also
interested in XXXXX Is there a time the Senator/Representative (or the staffer handling education affairs)
would be available to meet with me?”
7. Determine Meeting Logistics
Tell the staffer if anyone will be attending the meeting with you. Establish a time and place to meet. Keep
in mind most meetings are scheduled in 15-minute increments. Thank the staffer and tell him/her you are
looking forward to meeting.
8. Realize Meeting May be With Staff Person
Realize that you may be meeting with a staff person, not the legislator. The scheduler may tell you this
when you first set up the meeting; don’t sound disappointed – staff are the ones really doing the work!
9. Have “Leave Behinds” Prepared
Before you go into the meeting, it is important to prepare “leave behind” materials. These materials should
provide a good overview of your teacher preparation programs, highlighting initiatives that you are
especially proud of. This is an opportunity for you to inform your delegation how your program is meeting
the demands of today’s PK-12 schools. If you receive state funds, be sure to describe the grants you have
received and the impact they are having. Short, to-the-point materials are most effective, as Members and
staff do not have enough time to read through long documents.
Information that would likely be useful to legislative offices includes:
Florida Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
How many new teachers your programs prepare each year in shortage fields, such as math, science and
special education.
What methods are you employing to gauge your candidates’ performance through K-12 student
How you partner with K-12 schools to ensure that new teachers have the “hands on” training they need to
be effective in the classroom
How you partner with colleagues in schools of arts and sciences and/or engineering
How you prepare new teachers to work with diverse learners, including minority students and students with
How you prepare teachers for hard-to-staff schools, including urban and rural schools
How you work with schools to support new teachers through mentoring, induction and retention programs
How you utilize technology and distance education
10. After the Meeting: Follow Up
Always follow up a meeting with a thank you note and any additional information you may have promised
during the meeting. The best way to send information to Hill offices is via fax or email.
11. Good Luck and Have Fun!
Florida Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
Tips for a Successful Legislator Meeting
Be a resource. Educate staff and Members about how the state government is an important partner in preparing
teachers and providing professional development opportunities, with an end result of high quality in student
Say thank you!
Do your homework: know what committees the legislator sits on, etc.
Respect their time: be on time, prepared and flexible
Stay on message: be clear and concise
Secure support for your issue: make it clear that you are asking for support for strong teacher quality
provisions in legislation.
Include a local story: provide facts, figures and anecdotes
Build a relationship with staff: become a resource
Leave information behind
Follow up: send a thank you letter immediately after the meeting
1. Be late
2. Show disappointment if your meeting turns out to be with a staff person instead of a Member
3. Assume staffers know all about the role of Colleges of Education and how state programs affect you and
the students you serve
4. Get off message – it’s easy to “play the name game” or discuss the weather and lose valuable meeting
5. Use threats
6. Forget to leave information behind
7. Forget to follow up or write a thank you letter
Florida Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
Educator Preparation: Myths and Facts
Myth #1
Educator preparation in higher education is out of touch and hasn’t changed in 50 years.
Widespread reform is well underway in higher education-based educator preparation. Robust partnerships
with high-need P-12 schools, yearlong apprenticeships with master teachers, and residency programs based
on the medical model have become increasingly widespread. Close collaborations between colleges of
education and the arts and sciences to recruit high-performing content majors—particularly in the STEM
fields—into teaching are occurring more frequently, and alternate routes for career changers are becoming
commonplace in higher education-based educator preparation programs. Further, numerous institutions
and states are working in collaboration with AACTE to develop a valid and reliable Teacher Performance
Assessment that will inform the public and employers as to a candidate’s readiness to be a teacher.
Myth #2
Educator preparation programs in higher education are locked in the ivory tower with little to no
understanding of the needs of P-12 students.
Higher education-based preparation programs provide teacher candidates with extensive hands-on
experience with P-12 students. Strategies for reaching diverse learners, including English language learners
and students with disabilities, are developed under the guidance of effective mentor teachers who interact
with teacher candidates daily, on site in live classrooms. In fact, teaching is increasingly acknowledged as an
academically taught, clinical-practice profession—such as clinical psychology and medicine—involving
rigorous and extended clinical experiences for candidates. The average number of clinical preparation
hours required in programs is 749, and in many cases it is much higher.
Myth #3
Teachers have little to no knowledge about the content they are teaching.
Twenty-eight states require teacher candidates at the secondary level to major in a content area, such as
math, chemistry, or English. Many preparation programs have this requirement even if their state does not.
All teacher candidates must pass content exams before they complete their program and/or become
certified to teach. In addition, 12 states require elementary teacher candidates to have a content degree,
and 19 states require middle-level teacher candidates to have a content degree. The average GPA of
teacher candidates in some preparation programs, such as that at the University of Colorado Denver, is
higher than those of their colleagues in the content areas who are not in the preparation programs.
Myth #4
Alternative providers prepare most minority teachers.
The vast majority of minority teachers are prepared in higher education, particularly in minority-serving
institutions such as historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions.
Approximately 91% of all Latino teachers and almost 90% of African-American teachers are prepared
through higher education preparation programs.
Myth #5
Teachers do not require preparation. Credentials and experience don’t matter. Only content
knowledge matters.
Knowing something and knowing how to teach it are not the same thing. Research shows that teachers who
are fully prepared and fully certified are more effective than those who are not. Numerous rigorous research
studies report positive effects on the achievement of students whose teachers were prepared at higher
education-based educator preparation programs and were licensed by their state to teach. In fact, many
studies have reported that well-prepared teachers are likely to stay longer in teaching than those from
inadequate alternative preparation programs or those with no preparation. The fact that over 90% of all
Teachers of the Year—from every state in the union—over the past 2 years received their initial preparation
and/or subsequent professional degrees through universities illustrates their confidence in the value of
higher education-based teacher preparation.
Myth #6
There are few entry or exit requirements for teacher candidates. Anyone can get in, and everyone
gets out.
Preparation programs utilize a range of entry criteria including GPAs, SAT/ACT scores, interviews, and
success on basic skills tests. The quality of the teaching pool is rising as evidenced by increases in SAT scores
earned by teacher candidates and by a significant increase in the number of top teacher candidates
graduating from colleges. However, it is the in-program and end-of-program screenings that are most
important, as they ensure that only the successful candidates are recommended as program completers.
Particularly encouraging is the expanding interest and participation across the states—26 states and 180
institutions—in the new Teacher Performance Assessment (referenced in Myth #1). Candidates will be
required to pass the TPA in order to become certified, thus ensuring their readiness for the classroom.
Myth #7
Teacher preparation programs in higher education operate with no accountability and actively
oppose accountability efforts.
Multiple accountability mechanisms are in place for preparation programs—such as state program approval,
annual reporting on the quality of programs to the federal government, and voluntary professional
accreditation. Most institutions have developed their own measures of program effectiveness, and as
mentioned above, the profession is currently engaged in developing a nationally available, valid and reliable
Teacher Performance Assessment to measure new teachers’ readiness. Additionally, preparation programs
support the development of statewide longitudinal data systems that offer feedback to programs regarding
the performance of the P-12 students taught by their graduates. Data from these state systems and from
the TPA are useful to institutions for program improvement.
Myth #8
Higher education offers only one route to becoming a teacher. Alternative routes are found outside
of higher education.
The U.S. Department of Education reports that 92% of all teacher preparation is provided by institutions of
higher education, but a wide range of programs offer many choices to teacher candidates. Over 52% of all
alternate-route programs are based in higher education. Higher education has been a great innovator in
developing alternate routes for career changers and older students.
Myth #9
Value-added scores of teacher preparation programs’ graduates are the most appropriate and
meaningful measure of preparation program effectiveness.
Value-added modeling (VAM) was created to measure teachers’ impact on student learning, not the
effectiveness of their preparation programs. While many institutions do use VAM to help inform their
programs, it is not appropriately used for high-stakes determinations, such as establishing eligibility for
student financial aid. VAM has many limitations: It can only be used for teachers in certain grades and
subjects, as it requires standardized tests scored on equal interval scales. Further, the results provide no
insights into why a teacher received a particular VAM score, thus limiting the usefulness of VAM to help
improve preparation programs. VAM also provides no insights into characteristics of the preparation
program that prepared the teacher, and VAM scores of individual teachers have been shown to fluctuate
dramatically from year to year, making them an unreliable gauge of preparation program quality.
Myth #10
Graduates of teacher preparation programs do not know how to effectively use technology or
assessment data with P-12 students.
Higher education-based teacher preparation has been at the forefront of articulating the integration of
utilizing technology and understanding student data into both pedagogy and content. Programs utilize
a wide range of technologies and strategies for analyzing student data in preparing candidates for the
P-12 classroom. Increasingly, preparation programs develop teachers to be virtual teachers for online
schools and programs. The sophisticated use of technology in some programs has enabled the
development of avatars who serve as P-12 students, allowing candidates to hone their teaching skills
before they enter a classroom with live students. The new Teacher Performance Assessment
(referenced in Myth #1) requires candidates to demonstrate how they analyze and use student data to
improve their instructional strategies. Additionally, in a survey conducted by ETS for AACTE of teacher
candidates taking Praxis in 2009-2010 (N= 7000 teacher candidates), 71% reported that they were very
well-prepared or well-prepared to use student achievement data to modify or differentiate instruction.
June 2012
For more information, contact Mary Harrill-McClellan at [email protected]
AACTE, 1307 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005
Sources and Examples
Myth #1 – Examples of widespread reform are the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Quality Partnership grantees, awardee
abstracts for which are found at and Additional examples are described in selected publications:
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2010, November). Transforming teacher education through clinical
practice: A national strategy to prepare effective teachers. Washington, DC: Author.; AACTE. (2009, June). Innovation and reform in teacher
preparation. Washington, DC: Author.; AACTE. (2007, June). Preparing
STEM teachers: The key to global competitiveness. Washington, DC: Author. The new Teacher Performance Assessment is described at
Myth #2 – The emergence of teaching as an academically taught, clinical-practice profession is discussed in Alter, J., & Coggshall, J.
G. (2009, March). Teaching as a clinical practice profession: Implications for teacher preparation and state policy [Issue brief]. New
York Comprehensive Center and National Comprehensive Center on Teacher Quality. Data on hours required for clinical preparation are from U.S. Department
of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education. (2011). Preparing and credentialing the nation’s teachers: The Secretary’s eighth
report on teacher quality—Based on data provided for 2008, 2009 and 2010, p. 16. Washington, DC: Author.
Myth #3 – See U.S. Department of Education (2011), pp. 43-46. See also AACTE. (2012, Spring). Where we stand: Selectivity of
educator preparation programs. Retrieved from
Myth #4 – See U.S. Department of Education (2011), p. 14.
Myth #5 – See two relevant research summaries: AACTE. (2012, Spring). What we know: How teacher preparation affects student
achievement.; and
AACTE. (2012, Spring). What we know: How teacher preparation affects teacher retention.
Myth #6 – Educational Testing Service reports that the quality of the teaching pool has increased in recent years, with SAT-Math
scores of teacher candidates having risen by an average of 17 points, and SAT-Verbal scores by 13 points. See Gitomer, D. H. (2007).
Teacher quality in a changing policy landscape: Improvements in the teacher pool. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
Further, the number of teachers with degrees from top colleges and universities has increased by 59% for females and 29% for
males over the last two decades. See Ingersoll, R., & Merrill, L. (2010, May). Who’s teaching our children? Educational Leadership,
67(8), 14-20.
Myth #7 – For example, AACTE is a member of the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), which encourages the use of state longitudinal
data for improving teaching and learning. AACTE, DQC, and other organizations collaborated to create a template that institutions
can use to work with their SEAs and others to build data systems that provide useful feedback to preparation programs.
Myth #8 – See U.S. Department of Education (2011), pp. 11, 14.
Myth #9 – See for a useful statement, supported by AACTE, entitled “Evaluating
Teacher Evaluation,” by Linda Darling-Hammond, Audery Amrein-Beardsley, Ed Haertel, and Jesse Rothstein, from the Stanford
Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.
Myth #10 – For example, see the Lockheed Martin/University of Central Florida Academy for Mathematics and Science program,
which has developed the TeachLivE program that provides teacher candidates the opportunity to learn skills and develop their
practice without placing real students at risk in the process. Virtual classrooms are developed using student avatars that mimic realworld scenarios and students.