The New York State Board of Regents wants to certify new teachers based on their students’ academic achievement in their first two years of teaching, Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Education Commissioner David Steiner announced today.
The proposal came as part of a plan to overhaul the way teachers are trained and placed in classrooms that state officials hope will help them win competitive federal Race to the Top grant money.
Under the plan, a new teacher would also face a tougher set of tests and must prove to the state that he or she is ready to enter the classroom before receiving their initial certification, possibly through portfolios of lesson plans and videotaped teaching sessions.
“Instead of just a paper and pencil test, instead of looking simply at course credits, instead of waiting until the last semester for a formal experience of student teaching that has a different caliber of qualities associated with it, we want to use these performance assessments to ensure that our candidates for teaching have the skills that matter,” Steiner said in a press conference today.
The proposed changes to teacher training also include an expansion of alternative teacher certification programs, allowing a wider variety of organizations to train new teachers.
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In an interview last week, Tisch described the plan as a way to “break down the barriers between academia and practice” in teacher training. Traditional, university-based teacher training programs have been criticized, most notably by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, as being out-of-touch with actual skills teachers need to succeed in the classroom.
Tisch and Steiner said today that they would like to begin altering the assessments required for initial certification now, but that a program to link student performance to professional certification may take years to develop. The state will need to first develop a more rigorous data system before linking the performance of new teachers back to their students, Steiner said, though the state is already at work building such a system. Steiner also said that a request for proposals for new teacher certification programs will be released before the end of this year.
The speed at which the program is implemented will also depend heavily on funding. Tisch and Steiner are hoping that the proposals will help the state win Race to the Top funds, which could then be used to hasten the development of the new certification systems.
Here is the full set of proposals considered by the Board of Regents today: