Ensuring Every Child a Quality Teacher
June 7, 2007 Summary
The National Education Association believes the essential characteristics of a quality teacher include:
- Knowing his/her subject matter;
- Knowing how to teach that subject matter; and
- Understanding how students learn and what it takes to reach them.
To ensure every student the opportunity to learn from a quality teacher, we must support teachers along every point in the Teacher Quality Continuum:
Protect and promote high standards for entry into the profession:
- Recruit talented and committed professionals to the teaching profession and develop a teacher workforce that reflects the diversity of the student population and nation as a whole.
- All teachers entering the profession must demonstrate subject matter competence, pedagogical skills, and teaching ability before entering the classroom as a teacher-of-record. Alternative route programs must maintain the same standards as other teacher preparation programs and must be equal in rigor and content.
Support and measure new teacher performance:
- Policies and funding should focus on comprehensive new teacher induction systems that treat new teachers as "residents" or "interns."
- More support and training, less demanding classroom assignments, and significantly more focused performance assessments for all beginning teachers, regardless of their preparation and routes to licensure.
Improve teaching and learning conditions:
- Teaching and learning conditions-time, teacher empowerment, school leadership, professional development, and facilities and resources-are critical to increasing student achievement and retaining teachers.
- Teachers must be intimately involved in every phase of their ongoing training, with high-quality professional development programs focusing on pedagogy and helping teachers develop the deep understanding of how students learn.
- Principals should also be provided with high-quality professional development so they can serve as instructional leaders in their schools and work collaboratively with teachers to improve student learning.
Strengthen teacher evaluation systems:
- New policies and funding should create teacher evaluation systems based on a set of standards that measure teacher practice.
- Professional development and teacher learning programs should be aligned to meet the needs of both students and teachers - needs that are determined at the local level through measures of student performance and teacher evaluations.
Enhance and reward teacher skills and knowledge:
- Provide teachers with job-embedded professional learning opportunities and create systems for regular collaboration among educators within schools and districts.
- Ensure a $40,000 minimum salary for all teachers in every school in the country.
- Provide financial recognition to individual teachers who demonstrate superior teaching skills (such as National Board Certified Teachers) and to those who take on additional responsibilities (such as mentor teachers), and provide school-wide bonuses for improved student learning.
Ensure that students in high-poverty and other hard-to-staff schools have access to quality teachers:
- Provide an array of incentives to attract and retain qualified teachers to such schools.
- Improve teaching and learning conditions, including by reducing class sizes and ensuring safe modern facilities.