Published Online: December 13, 2011
Published in Print: December 14, 2011, as NEA Promises Initiatives to Raise Teacher Quality

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NEA Promises Initiatives to Raise Teacher Quality

Preservice requirements, evaluation to be addressed by the new efforts

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The National Education Association has promised to begin several initiatives to upgrade the teaching profession that draw on recommendations from a commission it created last year.

In a statement on the release of the panel's report last week, union President Dennis Van Roekel said the NEA, among other steps, would work to raise preservice teaching requirements, establish career paths for teachers, and develop evaluation systems that include peer assistance and review. How much sway the pronouncement will have on state and local NEA affiliates has yet to be determined.

All teacher-candidates should have one full year of teaching residency and pass a performance-based assessment before entering the classroom, Mr. Van Roekel said. The NEA has supported residency programs in the past, but has not specifically advocated that all teacher education programs embrace them.

It has, however, long spoken out against alternative-certification routes that permit teachers to learn on the job without a supervised student-teaching experience.

Mr. Van Roekel called for the implementation of 50 new residency programs and adoption of performance assessments in at least 10 state licensure systems.

He also said the NEA would support a career ladder for teachers. Teachers in leadership roles would be evaluated less often and would earn a higher salary in exchange for working longer hours, mentoring colleagues, and taking on more challenging teaching assignments.

Career ladders are permissible under NEA policies, but for a decade, the union opposed nearly all differentiated-compensation programs. The union's Representative Assembly removed that prohibition this year.

That resolution still opposes linking teacher evaluation to additional pay, however, and it was not immediately clear last week whether the national union would seek to alter the resolution. – liana heitin

Vol. 31, Issue 14, Page 4

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