In early January, The Teaching Commission, a bipartisan panel of national leaders in education, government, business, and philanthropy, called for a new compact with teachers to fundamentally change the way they are paid, assessed, trained, and supported. The new report,Teaching at Risk: A Call to Action, makes four bold suggestions to improve the quality of America’s teaching profession and calls for the hiring of 2 million new teachers in the next decade.
“The quality of teachers in our schools affects every aspect of our society, from jobs to national security,” said the chair of The Teaching Commission, former IBM chairman Louis V. Gerstner Jr. “The nation will not continue to lead or to create new jobs if we persist in viewing teaching – the profession that makes all other professions possible – as a second-rate occupation.”
Teaching at Risk highlights the chronic problems schools face in hiring high-quality teachers. Too many teachers do not have academic majors or minors in the subjects they teach. Too many poor and minority students do not have access to the best teachers. And too many schools, especially urban and high-poverty schools, do not have an adequate supply of quality teachers due to inadequate funds and poor working conditions.
“These systemic problems prevent teachers from achieving their goals and mire educators and their students in the quicksand of the status quo,” the report concludes. “Given these challenges, it is no surprise that half of all new teachers quit after a few years, and that our students are not achieving as much as we’d like,” said Gerstner.
To overcome such obstacles, the commission makes four recommendations:
1. Transform How Teachers are Paid:
Increase all teachers’ pay by 10 percent. Tie compensation to student performance. Develop career advancement structures, including pay raises, for master and mentor teachers.
2. Revamp Teacher Education:
Raise entrance requirements for teacher preparation programs. Make academic content more substantive. Promote teaching as a career for top students across the university. Attach federal funding to measured success of training programs.
3. Improve or Overhaul State Licensing and Certification Requirements:
Raise passing scores for existing certification exams. Replace low-level competency tests with more rigorous ones. Streamline the bureaucracy of the licensing process to attract a wide range of candidates.
4. Empower Principals to be Better School Leaders:
Give principals more input in personnel decisions. Ensure that principals provide teachers with mentoring and professional development that improves instruction.
The complete report is available at: http://www.theteachingcommission.org/