The National Council for Teacher Quality (no organizational relationship to us here at the Center for Teaching Quality) has once again published its annual report on teaching policies across the nation. Unfortunately, the NCTQ report card builds on a very narrow view of what it takes to develop the nation’s teaching profession — and apparently is locked into 20th century thinking and actions.
The report card points to four problem areas: performance management policies that are disconnected from teacher effectiveness; vague and/or weak guidelines for teacher preparation; licensure requirements that do not ensure that teachers have appropriate content knowledge; and obstacles that prevent expansion of the teacher pipeline.
But NCTQ bypasses many other critical areas that state teaching policies must address. In fact, the list of overlooked issues is so long I could fill a lot of virtual space ticking off the inadequacies of the NCTQ report. Don’t worry, I won’t. I’ll just give you my top 10.
10 Policy Issues States Must Address but NCTQ Ignores
1. Performance management policies that do not hold administrators accountable for creating conditions necessary for teachers to teach effectively (like time for elementary teachers to teach science);
2. The lack of capacity in state agencies to assemble linked teacher-student databases that educators can use to improving teaching and learning;
3. The development of common tools and strategies so that educators can use value-added ratings in valid and reliable ways (check out the new research of Heather Hill, Tom Kane, and Jesse Rothstein);
4. The lack of attention to joint funding for higher education and school districts (as well as non-profits and social service agencies) required to fuel the teacher education reforms (e.g., urban and rural teacher residencies) that are so important for the schools of tomorrow;
5. Weak guidelines for holding traditional and alternative certification programs accountable for performance and teacher retention (the NCTQ report focuses only on university-based teacher education programs for some strange reason, despite the growing alternative pipeline);
6. The lack of attention to “grow your own” teacher development programs that build capacity for local communities to cultivate new recruits who are more likely to know students and families and remain in teaching for the long haul;
7. The lack of focus on developing teachers with content-specific teaching knowledge (and not just subject matter knowledge);
8. The guarantee that no teacher teaches special education without extensive training in serving the increasing numbers of different students with serious and diverse learning challenges;
9. The lack of attention to creating more hybrid teaching roles so that effective teachers can lead policy and pedagogical reforms without totally leaving the classroom; and
10. Obstacles that prevent all preparation programs from ensuring that new recruits know how to: (a) teach the “Googled learner” (who can find any piece of content at the tap of a finger); (b) work with growing numbers of second language learners, and (c) develop and use tools in the classroom to measure student progress toward meeting the Common Core standards.
Sorry, NCTQ, but your agenda is far too narrow. There is so much more to be done to ensure public policy will advance the results-oriented teaching profession students deserve.