DALLAS, Feb. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Every August approximately 27,000 first-year teachers enter classrooms across Texas. And while the state leads the nation in providing the largest number and most varied pathways to become an educator, the current system does not ensure teachers are well prepared. As a result, Texas students – whose academic success is deeply affected by the quality of teachers – suffer the consequences.
To address this pressing issue, Educate Texas, a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), convened the Texas Teacher Preparation Collaborative, a blue-ribbon panel of Texas educators brought together for the first time ever to examine the challenges and opportunities to improve teacher preparation.
This week Educate Texas unveiled the Collaborative's recommendations in a comprehensive report that takes a close look at the current status of teacher preparation in Texas and makes recommendations for the legislature, the state agencies and the educator-preparation programs (EPPs) to improve policies and practices. Recent data from 2013-14 shows that 52 percent of teachers enter the profession through alternative certification methods and 48 percent enter through traditional colleges of education. The report also provides approaches, procedures and policies that can be applied to ensure all teachers are fully equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to lead and provide Texas students with a 21st century education. The report is available online at the Educate Texas website.
"We know that the single-most important school-based factor to affect student success is the teacher, yet many are entering the classroom woefully unprepared," said John Fitzpatrick, executive director of Educate Texas. "The Collaborative's mission was to dig deep into this complicated matter and determine what can be done to train, support and lift up these new teachers during their crucial early years of instruction. Building confidence, leadership and instruction skills should make an immediate, measurable difference in the classroom and likely boost teacher retention."
Convened by Educate Texas in early 2016, the 14-member Collaborative was chaired by Jim Nelson, a passionate advocate and former superintendent of Richardson Independent School District who later served as Texas Commissioner of Education. The Collaborative was comprised of Texas college and university deans of education, alternative certification leaders, teachers, principals, superintendents and advocacy leaders committed to improving teacher preparation. (See list of members at the end of this release.) For almost nine months, they spent hundreds of hours gathering and compiling data, studying best practices in Texas and the nation, conducting conversations and focus groups with teachers and administrators at every level from pre-K to college, and more. Facilitated by Educate Texas with support provided by the nationally renowned American Institutes for Research, the Collaborative produced a 30-page report entitled An Effective Teacher in Every Classroom and executive summary plus three supplemental reports: Texas Teacher Preparation – Pathways to Entering the Classroom, Deeper Teaching for Deeper Learning in Teacher Preparation and Teacher Preparation Data.
"While conversations have occurred before regarding teacher preparation, this is the first time in Texas that the topic has been addressed so deeply and comprehensibly by both educators and advocates who work across the K-12, university and workforce arenas," said Nelson. "Our recommendations seek to reframe teacher preparation in Texas from a system-focused process to one driven by outcomes. The goal is to improve teacher preparation and ensure that every student in Texas has an effective and qualified teacher leader."
The report focuses on three key recommendations:
- Establish a competency-based, tiered licensure system that differentiates performance and strengthens teaching as a profession. The Collaborative recommends the state of Texas create and define a four-tiered system that offers a progression of licensure based on demonstrated and appropriate competencies, as identified by the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) or another commissioner-approved evaluation system. This system would clearly differentiate the licensure of teachers with no student teaching or field-based experience (Level 1) and teachers with classroom experience (Levels 2 and above). Additionally, Texas educator-preparation programs (EPPs) and districts would collaborate to support teachers at Levels 1 and 2 – monitoring, tracking and working with them during their first three years of teaching while sharing relevant data with educator-preparation programs. The Texas Legislature would be asked to allocate state appropriations for mentoring, and related state agencies would be requested to also provide support from sources including Title I, Title II and Title III programs. The Collaborative also urges the Texas Education Agency and State Board for Educator Certification to maximize the supply of qualified teachers by expanding the reciprocity of licensure policy, which would reduce barriers for teachers from out of state to become Texas teachers.
- Enhance the evaluation system for the Texas educator-preparation program to increase accountability, drive program outcome improvement and provide public transparency on program performance. In addition to the state raising standards for education-prep programs, other components would include obtaining national accreditation, enhancing accountability measures and providing EPP data in a transparent manner through a public interactive dashboard or almanac. The legislature and the state would be asked to offer incentives to EPPs and encourage program improvement through the creation of a Program of Innovation. Texas school districts and educator preparation programs could use the data to strengthen partnerships aimed at aligning supply and demand needs for trained teachers.
- Establish a Texas Educator Preparation Evaluation and Innovation Alliance. The state of Texas should establish an Educator Preparation Evaluation and Innovation Alliance that would set the agenda for, oversee, and advise ongoing evaluations of educator preparation policies and practices in Texas to inform state decisions on EPP practices.
The Collaborative members were:
Jim Nelson, chairman of the Collaborative, and former superintendent of Richardson Independent School District who later served as Texas Commissioner of Education
David Chard, vice chair of the Collaborative, and president, Wheelock College and former dean of College of Education at SMU
David Anthony, former superintendent, Cypress–Fairbanks Independent School District Jessica Conlon, partner, TNTP
Stephanie Hirsh, executive director, Learning Forward
Diann Huber, president, iteach TEXAS
Patricia Alvarez McHattan, dean, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Peggy McLeod, deputy vice president, National Council of La Raza
Scott Ridley, dean, Texas Tech University
Mike Savage, principal, Audelia Creek Elementary, Richardson Independent School District
Kevin Sevin, teacher, iSchool High at University Park in Houston
Rodney Watson, superintendent, Spring Independent School District
Pam Wells, executive director, Region 4 Education Service Center
Randall Woods, principal, Burgess High School, El Paso Independent School District
Funding to support the Collaborative's efforts was provided by Exxon-Mobil and the Houston Endowment, The Meadows Foundation, Sid W. Richardson Foundation and W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation of the Communities Foundation of Texas.
For more information, go to EdTX.org
ABOUT EDUCATE TEXAS/CFT
Educate Texas is a public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas. Its partners include the Texas Education Agency; Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; Texas Workforce Commission; Office of the Governor; Texas Legislature; Ford Foundation; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Greater Texas Foundation; The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; Houston Endowment; IBM; JP Morgan Chase, The Kresge Foundation; Lumina Foundation; The Meadows Foundation; TG Texas Guaranteed; and Texas Instruments Foundation. For more information, please visit EdTX.org.
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SOURCE Educate Texas