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Memorandum on Promoting Excellence and Accountability in Teaching

September 12, 1996

Memorandum for the Secretary of Education

Subject: Promoting Excellence and Accountability in Teaching

Every child needs—and deserves—dedicated, outstanding teachers, who know their subject matter, are effectively trained, and know how to teach to high standards and to make learning come alive for students.

In order to make sure every child has the teachers he or she deserves, as a Nation we must:

  • Recruit and retain the most talented people into teaching;
  • Require tougher licensing and certification standards for teachers, invest in high-quality preparation and ongoing training to help teachers meet these standards, and increase dramatically the number of teachers who meet the demanding standards set by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards;
  • Remove incompetent teachers quickly, fairly, and at less cost than at present and for those teachers who need such assistance, try to restore their enthusiasm or counsel them out of the profession; and
  • Create systems for identifying and rewarding good teachers for achieving outstanding levels of knowledge and skills, especially as reflected in National Board Standards or other standards of quality adopted by States or local school districts.

I hereby direct you to assist States and local communities in meeting these challenges by:

(1) Notifying State and local education officials within 90 days of the date of this memorandum of the Federal resources available to address these challenges; and

(2) Identifying and disseminating within 6 months promising State and local practices responding to each of these challenges.

Please report annually to me on how States and local communities are responding to these challenges.


William J. Clinton, Memorandum on Promoting Excellence and Accountability in Teaching Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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