Four national business organizations have launched a campaign to improve teacher quality through a comprehensive plan to change the way teachers are trained, paid, and supported. Among the groups’ proposals are:
Improved preparation and training:
- Raise entrance requirements for teacher-preparation programs.
- Require all teacher candidates to major in an academic subject, not just education.
- Mandate that all schools of education be accredited, based on such criteria as the alignment of their programs to the standards of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the percentage of graduates who pass licensing exams.
- Require that graduates of alternative-certification programs pass assessments that judge their performance in the classroom.
- Build extra time into teachers’ workdays to allow them to participate in professional development.
- Provide new teachers with mentoring, along with a reduced teaching load and manageable assignments.
- Ensure that every school has a cadre of teachers certified by the national board.
New incentives and work arrangements:
- Make teacher salaries competitive with salaries in other fields.
- Tie pay to performance, with both group bonuses for improvement and monetary rewards for individuals based on demonstrated knowledge and skills and students’ academic performance.
- Create new career opportunities that allow teachers to take on roles as peer evaluators, mentors, and adjunct university faculty members, without having to give up teaching.
- Make work arrangements more flexible to allow for varied schedules, such as a year-round schedule.
A climate of professional freedom:
- Decentralize decisionmaking to give school staff members more authority to set budgets, hire staff, and design instructional programs.
- Ensure that teachers have such resources as office space and information technology.
- Make it easier for teachers to transfer between districts and states by standardizing teacher licenses and creating a voluntary national retirement plan.
A version of this article appeared in the February 07, 2001 edition of Education Week as Investments in Teacher Quality