Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Raise the Bar for Teacher Licensure, Says TeachStrong Coalition
Press Release

RELEASE: Raise the Bar for Teacher Licensure, Says TeachStrong Coalition

Third policy proposal from the TeachStrong coalition recommends states raise the bar for teacher licensure by making licensure exams a meaningful measure of readiness to teach and ensuring that teacher candidates are held to high standards before entering the classroom.

The TeachStrong campaign brings together more than 60 teachers unions, teacher voice organizations, and education reform, civil rights, and education policy leaders to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue of 2016.

Washington, D.C. — States should raise the bar for teacher licensure, said a coalition of more than 60 education advocates and groups in a new policy proposal released today. The current system for licensing teachers is inconsistent, confusing, and often unrelated to the skills necessary to be a great educator. The policy proposal, put forth by the TeachStrong coalition—a diverse group of national education leaders—calls for more meaningful exams that measure both pedagogy and content knowledge, higher passing scores on those exams, and greater reciprocity among states.

“Thousands of educators across the country have joined our community, in part, because they strongly believe that the existing teacher pipeline does not adequately recruit and retain the highly-qualified teachers our students need and deserve,” said Evan Stone, co-founder and co-CEO of Educators 4 Excellence. “In many states, it’s far too difficult for great teacher candidates to navigate the licensure labyrinth—instead, existing licensure laws preclude dedicated teachers from entering classrooms. The TeachStrong coalition’s third policy proposal, which calls for improved, rigorous licensure exams and a streamlined licensure process, takes bold steps to open classroom doors to great teachers across the country.”

The TeachStrong campaign is a coalition of leading education groups aimed at making modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy priority in 2016 so that students, especially those from low-income families, can be taught by great teachers. The campaign’s nine policy principles detail the need for comprehensive, systemic change to the teaching profession. To accomplish this goal, TeachStrong believes that the United States must invest in and develop policies that better recruit, prepare, support, and compensate teachers through all stages of their careers.

TeachStrong’s third policy proposal offers the following three policy recommendations in order to ensure teacher licensure is a meaningful measure of readiness to teach:

  • States should require future teachers to demonstrate both pedagogical and content knowledge and classroom skills.
  • States should set a sufficiently high passing score on licensure exams to ensure that teachers are rigorously assessed before entering the teaching profession.
  • States should create or expand reciprocal agreements, making it easier for teachers to move between states.

“The teacher licensure process is an incomprehensible maze that turns off a new generation of highly-mobile workers,” said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, vice president for the social policy and politics program at Third Way. “With shortages in some states and surpluses in others, creating a licensure system that allows well-trained teachers to move about as they choose is crucial to ensuring that there is a great teacher in every classroom. It is also imperative to making the profession attractive to Millennials, who have little interest in a career that is geographically limited.”

Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers said, “State chiefs are committed to improving teacher preparation, and raising the bar for licensure to ensure every teacher is ready when they enter the classroom. CCSSO’s Network for Transforming Educator Preparation, or NTEP, includes 14 states that have been specifically focused on reform of their licensure systems, including the use of performance-based assessments, as well as making systems more efficient to support greater mobility of teachers across state lines. I applaud the TeachStrong campaign’s attention to this work and efforts to elevate the teaching profession.”

This is the third proposal unveiled by the TeachStrong campaign. The campaign has also released policy proposals on recruiting excellent and diverse teacher candidates and on reimagining teacher preparation. Throughout 2016, TeachStrong will release additional policy proposals as part of the effort to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy priority of 2016 and beyond.

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