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Goals and Components

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers

Admission into Teacher Preparation

The state should require teacher preparation programs to admit only candidates with strong academic records.

  • The state should limit admission to teacher preparation programs to candidates in the top half of the college-going population.
  • The state should require teacher candidates to pass a test of academic proficiency that assesses reading, writing and mathematics skills as a criterion for admission to teacher preparation programs. Alternatively, academic proficiency could be demonstrated by grade point average.

Elementary Teacher Preparation

The state should ensure that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teachers with a broad liberal arts education, providing the necessary foundation for teaching to college- and career-readiness standards.

  • The state should require all elementary teacher candidates to pass a subject-matter test designed to ensure sufficient content knowledge of all core academic subjects. 
  • The state should require that its approved teacher preparation programs deliver a comprehensive program of study in broad liberal arts coursework. An adequate curriculum is likely to require approximately 36 credit hours to ensure appropriate depth in the core subject areas of English, science, social studies and fine arts. (Mathematics preparation for elementary teachers is discussed in Goal 1-D.) 
  • The state should require elementary teacher candidates to complete a content specialization in an academic subject area. In addition to enhancing content knowledge, this requirement ensures that prospective teachers have taken higher level academic coursework
Elementary Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction

The state should ensure that new elementary teachers know the science of reading instruction and are prepared for the instructional shifts related to literacy associated with college-and career-readiness standards.

  • The state should require that new elementary teachers pass a rigorous test of reading instruction in order to attain licensure. The design of the test should ensure that prospective teachers cannot pass without knowing the five instructional components shown by scientifically based reading research to be essential to teaching children to read. 
  • The state should require that teacher preparation programs prepare candidates in the science of reading instruction.
  • The state should ensure that all elementary teachers are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction of all subject areas. Specifically, 
    • The state should require that all new elementary teachers are prepared to incorporate complex texts and academic language into instruction. 
    • The state should ensure that all new elementary teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject. 
    • The state should ensure that all new elementary teachers are prepared to support struggling readers. 

Elementary Teacher Preparation in Mathematics

The state should ensure that new elementary teachers have sufficient knowledge of the mathematics content taught in elementary grades.

  • The state should require elementary teacher candidates to pass a rigorous test of mathematics content in order to attain licensure. 
  • The state should require teacher preparation programs to deliver mathematics content of appropriate breadth and depth to elementary teacher candidates. This content should be specific to the needs of the elementary teacher (i.e., foundations, algebra and geometry with some statistics). 
  • Such test can also be used to test out of course requirements and should be designed to ensure that prospective teachers cannot pass without sufficient knowledge of mathematics. 


Early Childhood

The state should ensure that new teachers who can teach elementary grades on an early childhood license possess sufficient content knowledge in all core subjects and know the science of reading instruction.

  • The state should ensure that all new teacher candidates who can teach elementary grades on an early childhood license, possess sufficient content knowledge in all core subjects, including mathematics.
  • The state should ensure that all new teacher candidates who can teach elementary grades on an early childhood license, pass a rigorous test of reading instruction in order to attain licensure. The design of the test should ensure that prospective teachers cannot pass without knowing the five instructional components shown by scientifically based reading research to be essential to teaching children to read. 
  • The state should ensure that all new teacher candidates who can teach elementary grades on an early childhood license, are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction of all subject areas. Specifically, 
    • The state should require that all such candidates are prepared to incorporate complex texts and academic language into instruction. 
    • The state should ensure that all such candidates are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject. 
    • The state should ensure that all such candidates are prepared to support struggling readers. 

Middle School Teacher Preparation

The state should ensure that middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content and for the ways that college- and and career-readiness standards affect instruction of all subject areas.

  • The state should require that new middle school teachers pass a licensing test in every core academic area that they are licensed to teach. 
  • The state should not permit middle school teachers to teach on a generalist license that does not differentiate between the preparation of middle school teachers and that of elementary teachers. 
  • The state should ensure that all middle school teachers are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness English language arts standards affect instruction of all subject areas. Specifically, 
    • The state should require that all new middle school teachers are prepared to incorporate complex texts and academic language into instruction.
    • The state should ensure that all new middle school teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
    • The state should ensure that all new middle school teachers are prepared to support struggling readers. 
Secondary Teacher Preparation

The state should ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content and for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction of all subject areas.

  • The state should require that secondary teachers pass a licensing test in every subject they are licensed to teach. 
  • The state should require that secondary teachers pass a content test when adding subject-area endorsements to an existing license.
  • The state should ensure that all secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness English language arts standards affect instruction of all subject areas. Specifically, 
    • The state should require that all new secondary teachers are prepared to incorporate complex texts and academic language into instruction. 
    • The state should ensure that all new secondary teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject. 
    • The state should ensure that all new secondary teachers of English language arts are prepared to support struggling readers.


Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science and Social Studies

The state should ensure that secondary science and social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.

  • The state should require secondary science teachers to pass a subject-matter test in each science discipline they are licensed to teach. If a general science or combination science certification is offered, the state should require teachers to pass a subject-matter test in each science discipline they are licensed to teach under those certifications.
  • The state should require secondary social studies teachers to pass a subject-matter test of each social studies discipline they are licensed to teach. If a general social studies or combination social studies certification is offered, the state should require teachers to pass a subject-matter test in each social studies discipline they are licensed to teach under those certifications.


Special Education Teacher Preparation

The state should ensure that special education teachers know the subject matter they are licensed to teach.

  • The state should not permit special education teachers to teach on a K-12 license that does not differentiate between the preparation of elementary teachers and that of secondary teachers. 
  • All elementary special education candidates should be required to pass a subject- matter test for licensure that is no less rigorous than what is required of general education candidates. 
  • The state should ensure that secondary special education teachers possess adequate content knowledge.

Special Education Preparation in Reading

The state should ensure that special education teachers know the science of reading instruction and are sufficiently prepared for the instructional shifts related to literacy associated with college-and career-readiness standards.

  • The state should require that special education teachers who teach the elementary grades pass a rigorous test of reading instruction in order to attain licensure. The design of the test should ensure that prospective teachers cannot pass without knowing the five instructional components shown by scientifically based reading research to be essential to teaching children to read. 
  • The state should require that teacher preparation programs prepare special education candidates who teach the elementary grades in the science of reading instruction.
  • The state should ensure that all special education teachers are sufficiently prepared for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction of all subject areas. Specifically, 
    • The state should ensure that all new special education teachers are prepared to support struggling readers. 
    • The state should require that all new special education teachers are prepared to incorporate complex texts and academic language into instruction. 
    • The state should ensure that all new special education teachers are prepared to incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.



Assessing Professional Knowledge

The state should use a licensing test to verify that all new teachers meet its professional standards.

  • The state should assess new teachers' knowledge of teaching and learning by means of a pedagogy test aligned to the state's professional standards.
Student Teaching

The state should ensure that teacher preparation programs provide teacher candidates with a high quality clinical experience.

  • The state should require that student teachers only be placed with cooperating teachers for whom there is evidence of their effectiveness as measured by consistent gains in student learning.
  • The state should require that teacher candidates spend at least 10 weeks student teaching.
Teacher Preparation Program Accountability

The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.

  • The state should collect data that connects student achievement gains to teacher preparation programs. Such data can include value added or growth analyses conducted specifically for this purpose or evaluation ratings that incorporate objective measures of student learning to a significant extent.
  • The state should collect other meaningful data that reflect program performance, including some or all of the following: 
    • Average raw scores of teacher candidates on licensing tests, including academic proficiency, subject-matter and professional-knowledge tests
    • Number of times, on average, it takes teacher candidates to pass licensure tests
    • Satisfaction ratings by school principals and teacher supervisors of programs' student teachers, using a standardized form to permit program comparison
    • Five-year retention rates of graduates in the teaching profession 
  • The state should establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data. Programs should be held accountable for meeting these standards, with articulated consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval.
  • The state should produce and publish on its website an annual report card that shows all the data the state collects on individual teacher preparation programs. 
  • The state should retain full authority over its process for approving teacher preparation programs.

Expanding the Pool of Teachers

Alternate Route Eligibility

The state should require alternate route programs to limit admission to candidates with strong academic backgrounds while also being flexible to the needs of nontraditional candidates.

  • With some accommodation for work experience, alternate route programs should set a rigorous bar for program entry by requiring that candidates take a rigorous test to demonstrate academic ability, such as the GRE.  Alternatively, academic proficiency could be demonstrated by grade point average.
  • All alternate route candidates, including elementary candidates and those having a major in their intended subject area, should be required to pass the state's subject-matter licensing test.
  • Alternate route candidates lacking a major in the intended subject area should be able to demonstrate subject-matter knowledge by passing a test of sufficient rigor.
Alternate Route Preparation

The state should ensure that its alternate routes provide efficient preparation that is relevant to the immediate needs of new teachers, as well as adequate mentoring and support.

  • The state should ensure that the amount of coursework it either requires or allows is manageable for a novice teacher. Anything exceeding 12 credit hours of coursework in the first year may be counterproductive, placing too great a burden on the teacher. This calculation is premised on no more than six credit hours in the summer, three in the fall and three in the spring.
  • The state should ensure that alternate route programs offer accelerated study not to exceed six (three credit) courses for secondary teachers and eight (three credit) courses for elementary teachers (exclusive of any credit for practice teaching or mentoring) over the duration of the program. Programs should be limited to two years, at which time the new teacher should be eligible for a standard certificate.
  • All coursework requirements should target the immediate needs of the new teacher (e.g., seminars with other grade-level teachers, training in a particular curriculum, reading instruction, classroom management techniques).
  • The state should require intensive induction support, beginning with a trained mentor assigned full time to the new teacher for the first critical weeks of school and then gradually reduced over the course of the entire first year. The state should support only induction strategies that can be effective even in a poorly managed school: intensive mentoring, seminars appropriate to grade level or subject area, a reduced teaching load and frequent release time to observe effective teachers. Ideally, candidates would also have an opportunity to practice teach in a summer training program. 

Alternate Route Usage and Providers

The state should provide an alternate route that is free from limitations on its usage and allows a diversity of providers.

  • The state should not treat the alternate route as a program of last resort or restrict the availability of alternate routes to certain subjects, grades or geographic areas.
  • The state should allow districts and nonprofit organizations other than institutions of higher education to operate alternate route programs.
  • The state should ensure that its alternate route has no requirements that would be difficult to meet for a provider that is not an institution of higher education (e.g., an approval process based on institutional accreditation).

Part-Time Teaching Licenses

The state should offer a license with minimal requirements that allows content experts to teach part time.

  • Either through a discrete license or by waiving most licensure requirements, the state should license individuals with content expertise as part-time instructors.
  • All candidates for a part-time teaching license should be required to pass a subject-matter test.
  • Other requirements for this license should be limited to those addressing public safety (e.g., background screening) and those of immediate use to the novice instructor (e.g., classroom management training). 

Licensure Reciprocity

The state should help to make licenses fully portable among states for effective teachers, with appropriate safeguards.

  • The state should offer a standard license to fully certified teachers moving from other states, without relying on transcript analysis or recency requirements as a means of judging eligibility. 
  • The state should require evidence of effective teaching in previous employment.
  • The state should uphold its standards for all teachers by insisting that certified teachers coming from other states meet its own testing requirements.
  • The state should accord the same license to teachers from other states who completed an approved alternate route program as it accords teachers prepared in a traditional preparation program.
  • The state should offer a test-out option for any additional, reasonable coursework requirements.

Identifying Effective Teachers

State Data Systems

The state should have a data system that contributes some of the evidence needed to assess teacher effectiveness.

  • The state should mandate the use of its longitudinal data system for providing evidence of teacher effectiveness.
  • To ensure that data provided through the state data system are actionable and reliable, the state should have a clear definition of "teacher of record" and require its consistent use statewide.
  • The state should have a process in place for teacher roster verification. 
  • Data provided through the state's longitudinal data system should be used to publicly report information on teacher production.

Evaluation of Effectiveness

The state should require instructional effectiveness to be the preponderant criterion of any teacher evaluation.

  • The state should either require a common evaluation instrument in which evidence of student learning is the most significant criterion or should specifically require that student learning be the preponderant criterion in local evaluation processes. Evaluation instruments, whether state or locally developed, should be structured so as to preclude a teacher from receiving a satisfactory rating if found ineffective in the classroom.
  • Evaluation instruments should require multiple classroom observations that focus on and document the effectiveness of instruction.
  • The state should encourage the use of student surveys, which have been shown to correlate strongly with teacher effectiveness.
  • The state should require that evaluation instruments differentiate among various levels of teacher performance. A binary system that merely categorizes teachers as satisfactory or unsatisfactory is inadequate.

Frequency of Evaluations

The state should require annual evaluations of all teachers.

  • The state should require that all teachers receive a formal evaluation rating each year.
  • While all teachers should have multiple observations that contribute to their formal evaluation rating, the state should ensure that new teachers are observed and receive feedback early in the school year.

Tenure

The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.

  • A teacher should be eligible for tenure after a certain number of years of service, but tenure should not be granted automatically at that juncture.
  • Evidence of effectiveness should be the preponderant criterion in tenure decisions.
  • The minimum years of service needed to achieve tenure should allow sufficient data to be accumulated on which to base tenure decisions; four to five years is the ideal minimum.

Licensure Advancement

The state should base licensure advancement on evidence of teacher effectiveness.

  • The state should base advancement from a probationary to a nonprobationary license on evidence of effectiveness.
  • The state should not require teachers to fulfill generic, unspecified coursework requirements to advance from a probationary to a nonprobationary license.
  • The state should not require teachers to have an advanced degree as a condition of professional licensure.
  • Evidence of effectiveness should be a factor in the renewal of a professional license.

Equitable Distribution

The state should publicly report districts' distribution of teacher talent among schools to identify inequities in schools serving disadvantaged children.

  • The state should make aggregate school-level data about teacher performance—from an evaluation system based on instructional effectiveness as described in Goal 3-B publicly available.
  • The state should make the following data publicly available:
    • An "Academic Quality" index for each school that includes factors research has found to be associated with teacher effectiveness, such as:
      • percentage of new teachers;
      • percentage of teachers failing basic skills licensure tests at least once;
      • percentage of teachers on emergency credentials;
      • average selectivity of teachers' undergraduate institutions; and
      • teachers' average ACT or SAT scores;
    • The percentage of highly qualified teachers disaggregated by both individual school and by teaching area;
    • The annual teacher absenteeism rate reported for the previous three years, disaggregated by individual school;
    • The average teacher turnover rate for the previous three years, disaggregated by individual school, by district and by reasons that teachers leave.

Retaining Effective Teachers

New Teacher Induction

The state should require effective induction for all new teachers, with special emphasis on teachers in high-need schools.

  • The state should ensure that new teachers receive mentoring of sufficient frequency and duration, especially in the first critical weeks of school.
  • Mentors should be carefully selected based on evidence of their own classroom effectiveness and subject-matter expertise. Mentors should be trained, and their performance as mentors should be evaluated.
  • Induction programs should include only strategies that can be successfully implemented, even in a poorly managed school. Such strategies include intensive mentoring, seminars appropriate to grade level or subject area, a reduced teaching load and frequent release time to observe effective teachers.

Professional Development

The state should ensure that teachers receive feedback about their performance and should require professional development to be based on needs identified through teacher evaluations.

  • The state should require that evaluation systems provide teachers with feedback about their performance.
  • The state should require that all teachers who receive a rating of ineffective/unsatisfactory or needs improvement on their evaluations be placed on an improvement plan.
  • The state should direct districts to align professional development activities with findings from teachers' evaluations.

Pay Scales and Performance Pay

While giving local districts authority over pay scales, the state should ensure that effectiveness is a factor in teachers' compensation.

  • While the state may find it appropriate to articulate teachers' starting salaries, it should not require districts to adhere to a state-dictated salary schedule that defines steps and lanes and sets minimum pay at each level.
  • The state should discourage districts from tying additional compensation to advanced degrees. The state should eliminate salary schedules that establish higher minimum salaries or other requirements to pay more to teachers with advanced degrees.
  • The state should instead support performance pay efforts, rewarding teachers for their effectiveness in the classroom, and allow districts flexibility to define the criteria for performance pay provided that such criteria connect to objective evidence of student achievement.
  • Any performance pay plan should allow for the participation of all teachers, not just those in tested subjects and grades.

Differential Pay

The state should support differential pay for effective teaching in shortage and high-need areas.

  • The state should support differential pay for effective teaching in shortage subject areas.
  • The state should support differential pay for effective teaching in high-need schools.
  • The state should not have regulatory language that would block differential pay.

Compensation for Prior Work Experience

The state should encourage districts to provide compensation for related prior subject-area work experience.

  • The state should encourage districts to compensate new teachers with relevant prior work experience through mechanisms such as starting these teachers at an advanced step on the pay scale. Further, the state should not have regulatory language that blocks such strategies.

Exiting Ineffective Teachers

Extended Emergency Licenses

The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching.

  • Under no circumstances should a state award a standard license to a teacher who has not passed all required subject-matter licensing tests.
  • If a state finds it necessary to confer conditional or provisional licenses under limited and exceptional circumstances to teachers who have not passed the required tests, the state should ensure that requirements are met within one year.
Dismissal for Poor Performance

The state should articulate that ineffective classroom performance is grounds for dismissal and ensure that the process for terminating ineffective teachers is expedient and fair to all parties.

  • The state should articulate that teachers may be dismissed for ineffective classroom performance. Any teacher that receives two consecutive ineffective evaluations or two such ratings within five years should be formally eligible for dismissal, regardless of tenure status.
  • A teacher who is terminated for poor performance should have an opportunity to appeal. In the interest of both the teacher and the school district, the state should ensure that this appeal occurs within a reasonable time frame.
  • There should be a clear distinction between the process and accompanying due process rights for teachers dismissed for classroom ineffectiveness and the process and accompanying due process rights for teachers dismissed or facing license revocation for felony or morality violations or dereliction of duties.

Reductions in Force

The state should require that its school districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off when a reduction in force is necessary.

  • The state should require that districts consider classroom performance and ensure that seniority is not the only factor used to determine which teachers are laid off.

Pensions

Pension Flexibility

The state should ensure that pension systems are portable, flexible and fair to all teachers.

  • Participants in the state's pension system should have the option of a fully portable pension system as their primary pension plan by means of a defined contribution plan or a defined benefit plan that is formatted similar to a cash balance plan.
  • Participants in the state's pension system should be vested no later than the third year of employment.
  • Defined benefit plans should offer teachers the option of a lump-sum rollover to a personal retirement account upon termination of employment that includes, at minimum, the teacher's contributions and accrued interest at a fair interest rate. In addition, withdrawal options from either defined benefit or defined contribution plans should include funds contributed by the employer.
  • Defined benefit plans should allow teachers to purchase time for unlimited previous teaching experience at the time of employment. Teachers should also be allowed to purchase time for all official leaves of absence, such as maternity or paternity leave.
Pension Sustainability

The state should ensure that excessive resources are not committed to funding teachers' pension systems.

  • The state should ensure that its pension system is financially sustainable, without excessive unfunded liabilities or an inappropriately long amortization period.
  • Mandatory employer and employee contribution rates should not be unreasonably high, as they reduce teachers' paychecks and commit district resources that could otherwise be spent on salaries or incentives.
Pension Neutrality

The state should ensure that pension systems are neutral, uniformly increasing pension wealth with each additional year of work.

  • The formula that determines pension benefits should be neutral to the number of years worked. It should not have a multiplier that increases with years of service or longevity bonuses.
  • The formula for determining benefits should preserve incentives for teachers to continue working until conventional retirement ages. Eligibility for retirement benefits should be based on age and not years of service.
Pension Transparency

The state should disclose all financial and other data necessary for policymakers, school districts and the general public to have a clear and accurate depiction of the current standing and future health of the system. State teacher retirement systems als

  • The state should project and report future contributions required to fully amortize the system's total pension debt.
  • Projections should be reported under different discount rates in order to appropriately assign risk to the system's obligations.
  • The state should disclose who makes employer contributions (e.g. state and/or school districts) to the system, and the proportion of total contributions for which each contributor is responsible.
  • The state should disclose the distribution of employer contribution between normal cost and amortization cost.
  • The state should provide teachers with information about how their benefits accrue over time (until reaching retirement eligibility). Just as teachers can easily access salary schedules, they should also be able to receive similar information about their retirement benefits. 
  • The state should provide teachers (especially new teachers) with information that conveys the extent to which employer contributions are being used to subsidize the retirement benefits of teachers under other tiers (if applicable).