Delaware Panel Suggests 'Accountability' Plan
Tougher "accountability" standards for teachers will be urged in yet another state, when a panel of educators submits its recommendations to the Delaware State Board of Education later this month.
The 10-member committee, appointed by the state board at the request of Gov. Pierre S. du Pont IV to study ways of improving the quality of Delaware's teachers, will make a number of proposals designed to tighten the requirements for a teaching license, to help school districts evaluate their teachers, and to upgrade programs for practicing, according to Frank B. Murray, chairman of the panel and dean of the school of education at the University of Delaware.
The panel will recommend that the state board require education-school graduates to pass a minimum-skills test in language and mathematics before they are granted provisional certification to teach in the state.
Nineteen states, including Connecticut last month, have adopted similar testing requirements for new teachers in the past few years in an attempt to help restore public confidence in the profession.
Mr. Murray said the committee considered the skills tests "the least interesting way of improving teaching."
"Several people argued that the test is trivial, that it is just a convenient public- relations device that only weeds out the very worst cases," he added.
The panel, made up of school, state, and higher education officials as well as teachers, also recommended that the state board:
Toughen Delaware's teacher-recertification requirements by making teachers renew their credentials every five years, instead of every 10, as they are currently required to do.
Teachers would also have to show "evidence of professional growth" by taking six hours of approved courses every five years. Mr. Murray called this requirement "very modest."
Currently, teachers in Delaware need only be employed to be recertified.
Establish a permanent committee on teaching that would have a variety of oversight responsibilities, including setting statewide standards and collecting information on the quality of Delaware's teachers.
Conduct annual studies on teacher competency and a statewide poll of the public's attitudes toward education every three years.
Make "in-service" training for teachers "more flexible" by encouraging school districts to allow teachers more choice in the types of things they can do to satisfy continuing-education requirements.
Mr. Murray said the panel will also recommend that school districts avoid offering large, "impersonal" lectures and seminars for teachers during in-service training sessions.
"The committee is recommending that in-service be more targeted to an individual teacher's needs," Mr. Murray added. "People think that in-service lectures to 800 people are a waste of time."
Make state education-department officials available to help school districts evaluate their teachers.
Last year, 60 new teachers were hired in Delaware. This amounts to slightly more than 1 percent of the state's teaching force of 5,000, according to Mr. Murray.