FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: David Brenna
Olympia, Washington – January 11, 2010
The Professional Educator Standards Board, working with the Governor’s office, is submitting a legislative package that will advance the efforts of the states continuum of educator development. The package contains provisions that were deliberated by the board as they develop teacher standards and regulate educator preparation programs. Strategies include improving practice in university/college preparation efforts, teacher assessment, and workforce development strategies. The PESB met on January 7th and 8th to adopt language that will be recommended to the Governor. The Governor is proposing an Omnibus legislative package for education in response to the federal Race-To-The-Top (RTTT) grant.
The package includes a pre-service assessment requirement for all beginning teachers aligned with the ProTeach Portfolio. The proposal offers improvements and expansion of the “alternative route” program; preparation for para-professionals or those with education and/or experience in other fields who now want to teach. Workforce development is also addressed, with requirements for projecting enrollment and planning hiring and retention of teachers locally.
A key component of workforce development for education is the “alternative route” program. 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 recommended approaches that expand alternative approaches to teacher preparation.
Alternative route programs offer concentrated, individually tailored approaches for individuals with education and experience that wish to enter the teaching profession without returning to a four-year preparation program. Alternative route programs emphasize field experience and guided mentorship, placing individuals in the classroom while supporting additional academic needs they may have. Some states include graduate degree attainment as alternative routes; Washington State does not require a full return to academia, rather focuses on the teaching skills necessary for professionals with experience in other fields to bring their expertise to the classroom.
The PESB submitted proposals containing a number of related policy changes that strengthen the model and improve practice. First, the board addressed the implementation of the assessment for pre-service teachers prepared for the classroom. Pre-service assessment will be required of all teachers entering the classroom for the first time.
Teacher preparation is inexorably tied to workforce development. The PESB offered recommended language that would require workforce planning at the local level in conjunction with Institutions of Higher Education (IHE’s) so that production of new teachers, whether through alternative routes or traditional preparation programs, match the local school districts projections. The state Education Research and Data Center, in collaboration with the state Superintendent and PESB, are envisioned as producers of enrollment projection data that will aid districts in preparing these reports. More efficient use of resources and better planning can strengthen the workforce and assure preparation of new teachers that will be in demand.
Taken in its whole, the PESB deliberations could result in legislative requests that improve practice, create the partnerships necessary to address effective teacher preparation, and ultimately improve student success. In addition, the legislative package positions Washington State educator preparation as an innovative, leading edge model that can compete for the federal Race-To-The-Top grant.