FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: David Brenna
Olympia, Washington – January 4, 2010
On January 7th and 8th, the Professional Educator Standards Board, working with the Governor’s office, is discussing legislative initiatives to advance the efforts of the state in creating a robust, effective continuum of educator development. The package in discussion contains strategies that the board has identified as they develop teacher standards and regulate educator preparation programs. Possible legislative proposals address three broad areas: improvements in university/college preparation and alternative routes to certification, pre-service teacher assessment, and workforce development strategies.
The PESB will deliberate a number of provisions. Key among them is carefully defining and strengthening the states “alternative route” program. Authorized by the 2001 Legislature, alternative route is a scholarship program that supports individuals who are para-professionals or with education and experience in fields other than education and that now wish to teach. Alternative routes are also an important element in the federal grant, Race-To-The-Top (RTTT). However, defining alternative routes to educator preparation varies from state to state. In order to more clearly articulate the quality approach Washington has chosen, and strengthen the state’s case for RTTT, the board will discuss policies that require all public institutions to provide alternative approaches to teacher preparation, hold existing programs to best practices, and permit non-higher education providers to offer alternative routes so long as they meet state standards.
The package might also include the final steps to implement a pre-service assessment for new teachers. The pre-service assessment currently in development is a high stakes test for new teachers to demonstrate entry-level skills before leading students in the classroom. The assessment will also provide uniform measurements of teacher skill and knowledge that can inform best practice; both at the teacher preparation level and the student learning level. The pre-service assessment enhances the continuum of professional development from preparation through professional licensure.
The board will also deliberate issues related to workforce development. Ineffective teacher recruitment and retention have long concerned the PESB, and helping local school districts project enrollment and plan for hiring is a goal in these discussions. Requiring partnerships between universities and school districts could support targeted strategies revealed in data and planning. Potentially, state partners can provide local partnerships the information they need to improve workforce development by helping institution preparation programs focus teacher production on the actual needs of the district.