Letter to the House about February 27 hearing, “Exploring Efforts to Strengthen the Teaching Profession”
February 26, 2014
On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association and the students they serve, we would like to offer our views in advance of tomorrow’s hearing, “Exploring Efforts to Strengthen the Teaching Profession.”
NEA believes that all teachers should be “profession-ready” from their first day of being responsible for student learning. Profession-ready means that a teacher has:
- Had extensive opportunities to develop and learn teaching and basic classroom management skills.
- Demonstrated the ability to plan and deliver instruction to students with different learning styles, and also to assess and support student learning.
- Worked with accomplished educators to understand the value of collaboration and reflection.
- Learned firsthand the importance of home-school connections.
Before becoming a teacher-of-record, teacher candidates should be required to demonstrate that they have the skills and knowledge necessary for effective classroom practice. While teachers continue to learn and grow after entering the profession, no candidate should ever be called a “teacher” without demonstrating the ability to improve student learning. Candidates who are placed in classrooms and expected to learn how to teach on the job are not profession-ready. (For further details, please see NEA’s Policy Brief, Profession-Ready Teachers.)
To help ensure that teachers are profession-ready, teacher preparation programs should include comprehensive residency programs. Such programs go beyond the traditional student teaching capstone experience — they engage a candidate in a series of school-based experiences and teaching opportunities under the guidance of an accomplished teacher while simultaneously applying theories learned from coursework. (For details, please see these NEA publications: Teacher Residencies: Redefining Preparation Through Partnerships and An On-line Toolkit for Recruiting a Qualified and Diverse Workforce.)
Prior to receiving full state licensure, teacher candidates should be required to complete a pre-service, classroom-based performance assessment like edTPA. Designed for the profession by the profession, edTPA was developed by teachers and teacher educators from across the nation in collaboration with faculty and staff from Stanford University. To ensure that teacher candidates are profession-ready, edTPA requires candidates to demonstrate mastery of both subject matter and pedagogy in their field, as well as the ability to improve student learning. (For details, please the attached document, Prepare Tomorrow’s Teachers with edTPA.)
We thank the Committee for holding a hearing on this critical issue and for the opportunity to submit these views. We look forward to working with the Committee going forward.
Director of Government Relations