ACSA President David Gomez was on hand to express the association’s support at last week’s unveiling of an Educator Excellence Task Force and Commission on Teacher Credentialing report calling for sweeping improvements to the way teachers are recruited, trained, mentored and evaluated.
“Educator excellence is not just about resources. It focuses on building the capacity of California’s teachers and administrators. And it is about expanding the capacity of the systems that support them,” Gomez said. “This report focuses on recruitment, preparation, induction, professional learning, evaluation and career development. It is a fundamental shift in our focus to improve our schools.”
The 90-page report, “Greatness by Design: Supporting Outstanding Teaching to Sustain a Golden State,” was commissioned by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
Among the report’s 29 recommendations are:
• Distribute well-prepared teachers and administrators equitably to all students.
• Update licensure and program accreditation standards for teachers and principals to support the teaching of more demanding content to more diverse learners.
• Incorporate valid and reliable performance assessments into licensure and accreditation for both teachers and administrators.
• Define the standards for quality induction programs for both teachers and administrators and embed them in state accountability systems for funding and accreditation.
• Clarify the competencies beginning teachers and administrators – and their mentors – should be expected to acquire and ensure they are represented in appropriate assessments.
• Evaluations should include multi-faceted evidence of teacher practice, student learning and professional contributions that are considered in an integrated fashion, in relation to one another and to the teaching context.
• Evaluations should be accompanied by useful feedback, and connected to professional learning opportunities.
• The evaluation system should value and promote teacher collaboration, both in the standards and criteria that are used to assess teachers’ work, and in the way results are used to shape professional learning opportunities.
• Administrator evaluation for both initial entry and later personnel decisions should be based on professional administrator standards and should be sophisticated enough to assess leadership quality across the continuum of development from novice to expert administrator.
• Accomplished administrators should be part of the assistance and review process for new administrators and for administrators needing extra assistance.
• Promote labor-management collaboration to enable innovation in educator roles, responsibilities and compensation systems.
“Every child deserves a great teacher, one who cares for children today and helps prepare them to contribute to the society and economy of the 21st century,” Torlakson said.
CTC Executive Director Mary Vixie Sandy, added: “Working together, we can shape the preparation and development of teachers and leaders so that they can inspire and support our young people to reach their highest potential.”
Gomez noted the report is timely and represents an issue that has come to the forefront.
“Much of the discussion at back-to-school nights throughout the state focused on the lack of resources to get the job done,” he said. “For far too long we’ve been focused on a lack of funding for schools and districts, furloughs for educators and the shortage of instructional time for students. Together we must shift this discussion.”
The Educator Excellence Task Force was co-chaired by two widely recognized education leaders: Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond and Superintendent Chris Steinhauser of Long Beach USD. The group included parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, and business and community leaders, as well as leading academics.
Torlakson said the next step is to form work groups to find ways to implement the task force’s recommendations, especially in an era of huge budget cuts to schools. He emphasized that he does not want it to be a report that just sits on a shelf.
“Greatness by Design” thoroughly examines how to provide a career development framework that fosters growth and leadership opportunities for teachers throughout their careers. It also takes a close look at how to improve the evaluation process, including how to collaborate with teachers and incorporate valid measures of student learning.
“The most successful evaluation systems are those that rely upon research-based best practices to help teachers and administrators improve their craft,” Steinhauser said. “Collaboration is key to developing these systems, with all parties focused on the ultimate goal of improving student achievement. A strong evaluation system is really nothing more than having a high level, great professional development system.”
“Around the world, there is growing recognition that expert teachers and school leaders are the most important school resources for improving student learning, and that the highest-achieving nations invest intensely in teaching quality,” Darling-Hammond said. “California cannot – and should not – do any less. This report describes how we can work strategically to build a world-class educator workforce in all of California’s communities.”
The full report is available online at www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/ee.asp.