Choosing to become a teacher is an admirable decision. While other careers may offer an ease-in policy or probationary period to get up to speed, as an educator, you are expected to know how to change the lives of human beings and are deemed responsible for their success beginning day one. Preparation programs try their best to emulate these expectations through rigorous coursework and student-teacher practicums. But a challenge that continues to persist is the lack of preparation teachers receive to meet the needs of new demands placed on students.
In September, we launched Transforming Educator Preparation: Lessons Learned from Leading States, a playbook that highlights the work being done in states to reform teacher preparation. Our goal with this ‘playbook’ is to inspire states to think differently about teacher preparation. The Network for Transforming the Educator Preparation, also known as NTEP, started with seven states, but quickly grew to 15. Throughout the life of NTEP, participants have included California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Washington. We’ve highlighted examples of their progress over the last three years below.
Georgia stood out as a model on how to effectively engage stakeholders through their P-20 collaboratives regional program. The Georgia Department of Education collaborated with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and the University System of Georgia to create this group charged with promoting continuous program improvement and student achievement through the preparation of teacher candidates and the professional development of P-20 educators.
Louisiana built on the leadership and collaboration between P-12 and higher education officials to advance changes to preparation program approval and accountability regulations, including a year-long teaching residency for all aspiring educators by 2018. The changes were informed by Louisiana's teacher preparation pilot program, Believe and Prepare, and two years of public discussion, input from a survey of 6,000 educators, and more than 50 meetings and focus groups.
Initial and Ongoing Licensure
Massachusetts used this opportunity to revamp their teacher preparation performance assessments to align with the standards used to evaluate teachers. They also revised field experience so candidates spend more time inside the classroom.
Georgia strengthened their requirements for licensure by creating a four-tiered system that set standards for teachers during initial preparation and throughout their careers. The new system lays out clear criteria for teachers to meet at different stages and encourages them to continually improve their practice and pursue additional responsibilities based on demonstration of accomplishments.
Program Standards and Program Approval
Connecticut decided to streamline its program approval process by adopting the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) standards. Linking state approval processes to a process sponsored by a national organization, ensures institutions are able to provide the same documentation they need for CAEP accreditation to the state to be approved.
Delaware built an educator preparation scorecard that creates public transparency and builds out incentives for institutions to improve their programs. The scorecard evaluates programs in six key areas including the recruitment of racially diverse teacher candidates and the perceptions of graduates and future employers.
Data and Information
Oklahoma is building a centralized education preparation data system that connects higher education to K-12 so that information can get back to the teacher preparation education providers. The state’s NTEP team and a data governance committee mapped the needs of preparation programs. Data sharing was facilitated by the Oklahoma Office of Equality and Accountability, but the team was able to utilize a statewide data-management system to house the information.
Tennessee has taken a multi-based approach rooted in data to improve teacher prep in two significant areas. The state introduced a new public interactive state report card available to anyone interested in how teacher preparation programs are performing based on outcome-driven criteria. They also developed online annual reports educator prep programs can use to assess candidates and how they performed using observation data and value add-in metrics. The tool can sort data by licensure type and/or program area and is intended to be shared with internal and external audiences.
These are just a few examples, but as you can see, states have stepped up in these four areas to improve how they prepare all teachers before they enter the classroom. We will use the lessons learned and progress made through NTEP to support other states in continuing this important work and reforming teacher preparation across the country. I encourage you to take a look at the Playbook and envision what it can do in your state.
We look forward to the positive outcomes teacher preparation will continue to yield in the future.