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Education

Carnegie Panel on Teaching Weighing Final Proposals

By Blake Rodman — January 10, 2020 4 min read

At its final meeting this month, the Carnegie Task Force on Teaching as a Profession debated a preliminary draft of its forthcoming report that calls for the creation of a four-tiered teaching profession, a national board that would test and certify teachers, and the abandonment of the undergraduate education degree.

The draft of the soon-to-be-released report also recommends paying highly trained teachers as much as $65,000 and argues that teacher salaries should be based on such factors as productivity, competence, and responsibility, rather than the number of years on the job, taskforce members said last week.

A copy of the preliminary draft was leaked to the press this month. Until then, little was known publicly about the work of the 14-member task force because its meetings have been held in private and its members have declined to comment on the nature of the discussions.

Last week, members of the task force and its staff director said the draft would be substantially changed before the final report is released May 15 in San Diego.

“That copy was a staff draft that does not represent the task force’s opinion then or now,” said Marc S. Tucker, executive director of the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy and staff director of the task force.

Mr. Tucker said he had written the “interim draft” before this month’s task-force meeting and noted that “a number of pointers were keenly debated” by panel members at the meeting.

That debate, he said, has led “to important changes.” But he declined to discuss what those changes would be or which sections of the draft. would be altered.

‘Consensus’ Sought

Several task-force members reached last week said they anticipated changes in a number of the proposals and in the document’s wording as a result of the vigorous debate at the meeting.

The panel’s members were to have received reworked copies of the draft this week and their responses will be sought, Mr. Tucker said.

“We are hoping this will be a consensus document,” he said, but declined to comment on how that consensus would be determined. From interviews with task-force members last week, it was apparent that they remained unclear on this point.

One panel member was expecting a “yes-no” or “yes-with-reservations” vote on the report, while two others believed members would be asked to “sign off” on the document. Others thought the process would be less formal.

The draft report argues that teachers should receive professional training at the graduate level and recommends abolishing undergraduate education majors.

But it also proposes creating a “National Board of Professional Teaching Standards” that would certify teachers who pass rigorous examinations regardless of whether they have received any formal teacher training.

While teachers would still be licensed by individual states, the draft says that teachers certified by the national board would have more prestige and could command higher salaries, much the way a doctor who is board-certified in a specialty area commands higher fees.

The draft also proposes that the teaching profession be restructured into a four-tiered hierarchy and argues that teachers should be paid salaries commensurate with their productivity, competence, and level of responsibility, rather than on the basis of the number of graduate courses taken or the length of processional experience.

The draft suggests the following salary ranges for the four tiers of the recast profession:

  • $45,000 to $65,000 for the most qualified teachers with advanced certificates working 12 months a year.
  • $28,000 to $42,000 for teachers holding advanced certificates and working only 10 months.
  • $21,000 to $42,000 for the majority of the teaching force, certified teachers working 10 months.
  • $17,000 to $23,000 for teachers lacking certification and working 10 months.

In addition, the draft argues that if teaching is to become a true profession teachers must be given more say in the decisions that affect their daily work and in the standards of their profession.

Based on the debate at the last meeting, task-force members last week suggested several areas of the draft that may be changed before the final report is released.

Task-force members said they debated the use of student test scores to judge teachers’ productivity; the salary ranges for teachers at different tiers of the profession; and the issue of whether any education courses should be required for those entering teaching through nontraditional routes, in addition to successful performance on teacher tests.

A number of the proposals contained in the draft are similar to recommendations put forth by the Holmes Group, a consortium of education deans from about 40 leading research universities, which released its report earlier this month.

That report also called for radical changes in teaching and the education of teachers, including the abolition of the undergraduate education major and a tiered teaching profession.

Judith E. Lanier, chairman of the Holmes Group and dean of the college of education at Michigan State University, is a member of the Carnegie task force.

Among its members are also Lewis M. Branscomb, chief scientist of the International Business Machines Corporation; Mary Hatwood Futrell, president of the National Education Association; Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers; Governor Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey; Bill Honig, California’s superintendent of public instruction; and Ruth E. Randall, Minnesota’s commissioner of education.

Assistant Editor Lynn Olson contributed to this report.

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