The process of training and certifying teachers is undergoing a thorough reexamination thanks to the Council of Chief State School Officers. In a report released earlier this week, the CCSSO – a non-partisan, nationwide group of state heads of primary and secondary education systems – lays out best practices states should follow in order to produce new principals and teachers who will perform at a high level over their entire career.
The report also delves into what exactly makes a new teacher or principal well-qualified for their job, outlining which skills best translate into good performance in teaching and in overseeing schools. Using the criteria for learner-ready teachers and school-ready principals, states could move forward with implementing new programs that provide the necessary training.
A learner-ready teacher is one who is ready on day one of his or her career to model and develop in students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed today including the ability to think critically and creatively, to apply content to solving real world problems, to be literate across the curriculum, to collaborate and work in teams, and to take ownership of their own continuous learning. More specifically, learner-ready teachers have deep knowledge of their content and how to teach it; they understand the differing needs of their students, hold them to high expectations, and personalize learning to ensure each learner is challenged.
The CCSSO took on the task of rethinking the training of teachers and administrators because its members have come to believe that current teacher licensing requirements are so different from state to state that they can no longer serve as a reliable signal of quality. Programs set different standards and goals for their students without necessarily making sure that meeting such goals actually leads one to become a good-quality instructor.
Instead, the group recommends that all teacher training programs should be looking to produce students who meet the requirements set out in the report, thus guaranteeing that graduates and licensees have actually acquired a set of skills that will prove useful in their future careers.
Among steps that all states should take is to improve the quality of their candidates, with implementing stricter entrance requirements for its training programs as a priority. Each student should also undergo frequent periodic reviews to make sure that those who underperform are dropped from the program.
Although the report is short on specifics about what an ideal teacher training program would look like, members are willing to consult with state officials looking to design and implement ones that conform with the standards the CCSSO lays out.