The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has released a new report, Raising the Bar: Aligning and Elevating Teacher Preparation and the Teaching Profession. The report calls for a systemic approach and more rigorous standards to prepare teachers for successful careers, including establishing a professional bar that all teacher candidates must clear to enter the profession. As one part of this approach, the AFT proposes a formative and summative assessment of teacher candidates’ performance before they are allowed to become practicing teachers.
In this regard, the report cites edTPA, a national performance assessment designed by Stanford University, AACTE, educator preparation professionals and PK-12 teachers to answer the essential question: “Is a new teacher ready for the job?”
Significant work has been underway for the last few years to develop edTPA, with an initial field test completed in spring 2012 that included some 7,200 teacher candidates from more than 160 institutions in 22 states. edTPA was created by the profession and includes a review of a teacher candidate's authentic teaching materials as the culmination of a teaching and learning process that documents and demonstrates the ability to effectively teach specific subject matter to all students.
“AACTE is encouraged by the vision expressed by the American Federation of Teachers in this report,” said Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., president and CEO of AACTE. “A
national ‘bar’ for teachers, including a teacher performance assessment, is something we have been hard at work on in the profession through edTPA. Our hope is for edTPA to represent the consensus of the broader professional community concerning novice teacher capabilities, while also serving as a valid, reliable measure that ensures every teacher is truly ready to teach. We look forward to working with the AFT and the full range of stakeholders in the education community to make the vision of a performance-based profession a reality.”
AACTE also agrees with the AFT report that educator preparation programs should have rigorous and meaningful standards for students entering programs, continuing in programs and exiting programs. Many strong programs are doing great work in these areas, either historically or as part of recent efforts to transform and reform their programs. However, far more programs still need to improve their rigor, which is why the Association is involved with initiatives such as edTPA and with advocacy campaigns to ensure that all preparation programs become productive contributors to the education workforce—and that they have access to the resources necessary to meet the high expectations of policy makers and the education community at-large.
In our current policy climate where incentives can ease standards for becoming a teacher and lower standards for preparation programs, the AFT’s report sends an important message to policy makers—to reconsider their devaluing of higher-education-based preparation programs—and a further reminder for preparation providers to step up their game. If education is truly a public good and for public good, our actions must raise the bar for all aspects of educator preparation.