Boyer, Citing Recent Gains for Teachers, Offers Improvement Plan

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Washington--Saying it is time to move beyond "facts and figures" in the effort to improve teaching, Ernest L. Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, has proposed a five-point plan to strengthen the profession.

Mr. Boyer made his proposals in the foreword to a new Carnegie Foundation report, "The Condition of Teaching: A State by State Analysis, 1985," which was to be released here this week.

The 95-page report gives a nationwide overview of the profession, including data in such areas as salaries, supply-and-demand trends, demographic changes affecting school enrollments, and the performance of prospective education students on college-entrance tests.

"We have the facts and figures," Mr. Boyer writes in the foreword. "Now it is time to move beyond the data. It is time to take the actions needed to advance teaching, not only to serve the profession but also the students who are taught."

Mr. Boyer said the Carnegie report, written by C. Emily Feistritzer, director of the National Center for Education Information, and updating a similar study she prepared for the foundation two years ago, gives evidence that there are "grounds for cautious hope."

"Teachers' salaries have gone up," said Mr. Boyer, "and there are indications that we may be improving the quality of prospective teachers and raising the standards of teacher certification."

But the challenges confronting the profession, he said, are still far greater than the gains that have been made.

Five-Point Proposal

Mr. Boyer's five-point plan for strengthening the profession included the following recommendations:

Outstanding people must be drawn into the field. To accomplish this, the Congress should fund the Talented Teacher Act, making scholarship money available to outstanding high-school graduates who intend to teach; high schools should identify gifted students who might become teachers and encourage them, possibly through work as tutors; and colleges and universities should give scholarships to outstanding students planning to teach.

"Recruiting future teachers is at least as important as recruiting fullbacks," Mr. Boyer said.

The professional standards of teaching must be raised. Teacher certification should be separated from teacher education; state licensure boards made up largely of senior classroom teachers should be established to administer "serious" tests for prospective teachers; and apprentice teachers should spend more time learning from experienced classroom teachers before receiving full certification.

Teachers must be given greater rewards and recognition for their work. The profession must offer teachers the job incentives they need, such as status, power, security, spare time, and convenient schedules. And parents and students should help provide "psychic" rewards by "supporting good teachers and giving them the recognition they deserve."

Salaries must be increased. "The cornerstone of recognition is remuneration," Mr. Boyer said. "Unless teacher salaries become more commensurate with those of other professions, teacher status cannot be raised; able students cannot be recruited."

While progress has been made in this area--teacher salaries have risen about 14 percent over the past two years--beginning salaries in some states are still "disgraceful," he said.

School districts must offer an "authentic" continuing-education program for teachers. Districts should add a two-week professional-development term to the8school year, operate a fund to encourage teachers to travel to conferences and meet with colleagues, and finance summer study for selected experienced teachers.

Report Highlights

In a summary of the foundation's new report, Ms. Feistritzer said that data from the last two years on a range of teacher-related issues indicate "that all the brouhaha over teaching is paying off in slow, but steady, progress."

For example, she said, teacher-salary increases outpaced inflation in both 1983 and 1984, with the average salary rising 13.7 percent over the two years--from $20,715 in 1982-83 to $23,546 in 1984-85. During the preceding decade, teachers lost 12.2 percent of their paycheck's purchasing power to inflation, according to the summary.

In addition, the summary notes, the test-score gap between education majors and other entering college students on the Scholastic Aptitude Test is narrowing.

Though all 50 states report that sat scores for high-school students planning to study education still lag well behind overall averages, the average score for education majors rose 23 points between 1982 and 1984, a period when the average score for all students rose only four points.

The report also indicates that the anticipated teacher shortage may not be as severe as originally expected. Even though the number of teaching graduates in 1983-84 was smaller than the National Center for Education Statistics had said would be needed to meet the classroom demands in 1984-85, the number of teachers hired last year actually exceeded the original nces projection, the summary notes.

The additional teachers are coming from both a "reserve pool" of certified teachers, formed when supply exceeded demand, and from the issuance of emergency certificates to "anyone who wants to teach," the report says.

Vol. 05, Issue 11

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