A recent report, written by the Center for American Progress, guides the reader through a teacher’s career trajectory, beginning at recruitment and selection and continuing throughout his or her career in order to provide policymakers and the public with a forward-thinking document that proposes how to elevate and modernize the teaching profession. In this report, authors argue that elevating the teaching profession cannot be solved by one policy change; instead, changes must be made to every step of the teacher pipeline.
Systemic change is critical for the future of the U.S. teacher workforce and the nation’s students. No simple policy fix will be enough to move the system as a whole, especially since so many of the institutions responsible for educating, training, and setting policy for teachers operate in isolated silos that are often disconnected from teachers themselves. Rather, the nation must take a comprehensive approach to improve all parts of a teacher’s career—beginning with the selection of a college major and continuing through retirement.
This far-reaching agenda will affect not just how teachers are recruited and trained but also the fundamental ways in which schools are organized. These changes can set in motion a virtuous cycle by which better training and working conditions enhance the experience of being a teacher, attract more people into the profession, and elevate the status of teachers overall, thereby improving the profession.
Each of the steps listed below must be made in conjunction with policy decisions and school restructuring:
- Ensure that teacher preparation programs select teacher candidates carefully and purposefully.
- Require teacher preparation programs to improve coursework and offer higher-quality clinical training experiences.
- Improve licensure exams to make them a more meaningful bar for entry into the teaching profession.
- Raise teacher compensation to professional levels and differentiate pay according to effectiveness and leadership responsibilities.
- Invest in new teachers by supporting their professional growth early on.
- Redesign school schedules to support improvements in teacher practice.
- Improve professional development by aligning it to the needs of students and teachers.
- Provide more opportunities for teachers to assume leadership roles.
- Reform tenure by setting a high bar for attaining it and streamlining due process.
- Ensure that school leaders receive training in how to support teachers.
This report envisions a modernized teacher workforce made up of professionals who must compete for a spot in their preparation programs; work relentlessly to finish their clinical experiences with high marks; study late into the night to pass their licensure exams; and dedicate themselves fully to their craft so they can earn greater responsibilities, higher compensation, and tenured status. These changes, if brought to fruition, will establish a modernized and elevated teacher workforce. What’s more, these changes have the potential to transform the profession’s reputation and improve teaching and learning for millions of students across the United States.
For more detailed information on how to implement these suggestions above, see Smart, Skilled, and Striving: Transforming and Elevating the Teaching Profession.
To read the full report, see Teacher Vision.