What certification could mean

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Like us, you might have expected that the Public Impact examination of teacher evaluation tools in 10 different sites would focus exclusively on school districts or states. In fact, one of these sites is the Relay Graduate School of Education, where graduation requirements strongly resemble a robust in-school teacher evaluation tool. We thought we'd take a closer look at how this unique graduate program has designed requirements so relevant to its candidates' classroom performance that they were comparable to district teacher evaluation tools.

Relay's candidate evaluation process has a number of the hallmarks of what makes for strong evaluations of practicing teachers. Relay created several rubrics for assessing classroom performance and other practices it expects its candidates to have mastered (the very same practices in which it intensively trains its teachers). Teacher candidates get detailed feedback on how well they did on the rubrics in conferences with the faculty, just as teachers should expect to get from principals after their observations. And the process includes objective evidence of what students have learned from candidates as well.

To graduate, Relay candidates must earn at least 70 out of a possible 100 points, 45 of which are based on evidence of student achievement. In other words, Relay candidates have to demonstrate some evidence of effectiveness before they are endorsed by their program. Just imagine if every teacher preparation program did the same thing. Teacher certification would become more meaningful, and districts and principals would be clamoring for teacher prep graduates.

Priya Varghese