Last week the National Journal asked about the merits of the Obama administration's RESPECT (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching) proposal. The administration calls for "radical transformation" of the teaching profession and proposes a new $5 billion competitive grant program to support and reward states and districts that commit to reform every level of the profession from preparation to evaluation to career advancement opportunities.
I explained what I think is missing from the proposal:
Teacher certification and teacher education program approval policies drive much of the design of education schools, and rethinking them must be part of the equation. Consider the national landscape on teacher certification. Most states have multiple teaching licenses, many of which overlap, especially for elementary education. State licenses for teaching elementary grades, for example, typically include a K-5 or K-6 license and an age 3 to grade 3 license or birth to grade 3 license. Teachers understandably choose to attain the broadest license possible, qualifying them to teach more grade levels.
The K-5 or K-6 license causes preparation programs, however, to emphasize instructional strategies most compatible with teaching children in the later grades of elementary school, neglecting K-2. A better structure would separate licenses according to developmental spans. One example would be to adopt a pre-K through third grade license and a second license that would cover the later grades of elementary school and perhaps middle school. This new structure could provide an incentive for teacher preparation programs to provide early elementary teachers with deeper content knowledge while still emphasizing early childhood development. In my report “Getting in Sync: Revamping Licensing and Preparation of Teachers in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and the Early Grades,” I explain this and other teacher preparation issues in more detail.
Read my full response here.