On Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training held a joint hearing titled, “Exploring Efforts to Strengthen the Teaching Profession.” Subcommittee Chairman of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Todd Rokita (R-IN) chaired the hearing, which focused on the importance of the teaching profession and how to better prepare teachers to influence the nation’s youth, both, before they step in a classroom and while they are licensed teachers.
Rokita convened the hearing by acknowledging research that shows “teachers have an enormous influence on student learning and performance.” However, teacher preparation programs are underperforming and failing to ensure that educators are ready for success in the classroom, said Rokita.
Marcy Singer-Gabella, Professor at Vanderbilt University, began by noting three challenges that the teaching profession faces:
1) a growing gap in student outcomes based on the deepening divide of wealth and opportunity;
2) a shift in years of experienced teachers from a norm of fifteen years to one year; and
3) an increasing reliance on temporary teachers over career teachers.
Deborah A. Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, noted that Rhode Island’s Department of Education adopted new standards and qualifications for teachers through a review and approval process of all educator-preparation programs in the state. She noted that the new standards were modeled after the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to include five key elements: classroom practice; diversity in teacher recruitment; certifications based on criteria and assessment; collecting data on the teachers that graduated through their first year of teaching; and analyze, share and report collected data to the public.
Christina Hall, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Urban Teacher Center, remarked on the success of the Urban Teacher Center (UTC) that has received high success ratings of program satisfaction, teacher retention rates and equitable learning results in the career field. Hall noted that the UTC program is unique to teacher preparation programs across the nation in which aspiring teachers commit to four years of in-classroom training along with graduate-level course work and the schools that agree to pay sizable fees for UTC training students are guaranteed results, “much like a customer would.”
The committees’ questions were based on the difference in compensation for teachers compared to other career fields and the extensive amount of data that schools have to collect for the U.S. Department of Education due to Title II mandates that result in no feedback or outcome analysis for teachers. For more information on the hearing and an archived webcast, go to: http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=371021.
Prepared for Triangle Coalition for STEM Education by Washington Partners, LLC