The Professional Educator Standards Board watches key indicators to track progress on policy goals.
For years we have been working to better understand teacher shortages at the state and local level. Traditionally, policy makers have viewed shortages as a factor of adequate / inadequate production. We now know it to be a more complex issue involving multiple factors, including pipeline, distribution, labor market and hiring practices. We also know that determination of shortage varies by perspective, with districts wanting multiple candidates for each open position, programs wanting a greater proportion of their graduates hired, and graduates wanting positions in locations where they want to live.
New course data allows us to view teacher shortages from the perspective of the students they serve. Specifically, we can now determine the extent to which certain courses are staffed by teachers who lack the credential appropriate for teaching that course. Also, thanks to recent research from the University of Washington in conjunction with educator preparation programs, we are beginning to view shortages using the teacher labor market.
Class size reduction proposals this past year have raised new questions about system capacity to implement these proposals and an opportunity for the PESB to outline the policies and supports that would be necessary.
Learn more about educator production.
The latest data available suggests an unexpectedly large number of teachers, representing all experience levels, left teaching in 2013-14. For new teachers, longer term trends show considerable differences in the retention rates by districts. Greater examination of district workforce development and support practices may shed additional light.
Learn more about workforce retention.
Assignment policy refers to ensuring districts are assigning teachers to courses for which they have the appropriate subject matter expertise – called a content endorsement. In the past, this was tracked by counting the number of teachers in one or more assignments for which they lack appropriate credential. Thanks to a new state-wide collection of course-level data it is now possible to measure teacher assignment from the perspective of impact on students. We can now look at the number and characteristics of students and courses taught by a teacher who does not hold the appropriate credential, for each school and district in Washington State. This is a significant change in both state and federal teacher policy. This work has yielded many important policy questions we are tackling this year.
Learn more about teacher assignment.
Diversity in Teacher Preparation Programs
- By 2015, educator preparation programs will recruit, enroll, and deliver graduates more closely approximating the demographics of the state’s K-12 student population
- By 2013, educator preparation programs will have fully integrated the cultural competences competencies for both faculty and candidates. – PESB Strategic Plan
In Washington, as well as nationally, diversity of the teacher workforce does not reflect the student population. PESB and preparation programs continue pursuing the shared goal of diversifying education preparation. Unfortunately we see little upward trend, and educator preparation in general continues to be less diverse than the universities where they reside. Currently we are implementing policy and data collections that focus on the recruitment and admission of under-represented groups.
Learn more about workforce diversity.
Teacher Knowledge and Skills
By 2015, measures of candidate knowledge . . .will have increased for all candidates across all programs. – PESB Strategic Plan
PESB is concerned subject content knowledge from teachers developed in Washington remain flat. We note that although there are not promising tends over time, there are differences between programs. We are looking at new policies to focus program attention to this issue.
The edTPA is the new performance assessment that has been required for completion of a Washington teacher preparation program since January, 2014. Washington is the lead state in a 22-state consortium implementing this assessment. As the first state implementing this new assessment, the PESB set the passing score conservatively, with plans to raise it in 2017-2018 school year. With most candidates passing the assessment at its current passing score, there is little variation of passing rate by program or subject area, but there is variation in candidate performance among programs and subject areas by average assessment score.
Learn more about knowledge and skills.
Professional Teaching Credential
This is the second year we have individuals who have lost their teaching credentials because they either did not complete, or did not pass the ProTeach Portfolio or achieve National Board Certification by the policy deadline, which means they are ineligible for Washington State certification for one year. The legislation requiring a uniform, external assessment for the professional teaching certificate also required placing a time limit in which teachers must achieve it and loss of licensure for failing to do so. Policies for credential renewal have been around for a long time, and individuals who did not complete certain requirements were in danger of losing their certificate. However, this is the first time an individual has lost his or her teaching credential because they did not pass an assessment.
PESB has been closely tracking implementation of this policy. An important part of our work was commissioning a study to better understand the external validity of the ProTeach assessment in 2014. What we learned from this study is:
- Teachers that pass the ProTeach Portfolio on the first attempt are more likely effective in the classroom.
- The ProTeach has similar validity to the National Board Certification assessment process.
- Similar to National Board, characteristics of students in a classroom influence the scores on the assessment.
- Also similar to other assessments, the ProTeach is likely to have a number of false positives and false negatives.
The study suggests these are important considerations for policy-makers and the PESB will continue conversations with legislators about this requirement and its consequences.
Learn more about research on professional teacher assessments in the research spotlight.
Linking Programs and Teacher Effectiveness
The PESB believes that one important measure of teacher preparation program quality is the degree to which their graduates go on to be effective teachers.
(6) Beginning July 1, 2011, educator preparation programs approved to offer the residency teaching certificate shall be required to demonstrate how the program produces effective teachers as evidenced by the measures established under this section and other criteria established by the professional educator standards board.
The Legislature has agreed, charging the PESB with explicit examination of the link between teacher preparation programs and teacher effectiveness in RCW 28A.410.270.
Currently the only way to access aggregate information on teacher effectiveness is by hiring external researchers to perform value-added modeling (VAM).
Problems with VAM include;
- The cost of hiring an outside researcher
- The range of subjects and grades available for study is limited
- Washington does not require verified teacher-student links. This raises questions about whether the value added estimates of teacher effectiveness are all based on correct attributions of students to teachers.
Another possible link between program and teacher effectiveness is aggregate evaluation information.
Problems with evaluation information include:
- Access to individual evaluation data is sensitive, and issues related to privacy still need to be addressed.
- Currently individual educator evaluation data is held by local districts, not at the state level, so it is not possible to aggregate to the teachers’ preparation programs.
- More research needs to be done around Washington’s evaluation system to better understand whether it measures teacher effectiveness.
District Hiring Practices
PESB has been concerned with teacher hiring, particularly the practice of late hiring, which research ties to low retention and negative impact on student learning. Late hiring generally refers to teachers hired after the beginning of the school year and is frequently attributed to inadequate candidate pool or uncertain student enrollment on which to base hiring decisions. Last year we worked with OSPI and the Legislature to implement changes to data collection that has shed additional light on this issue in Washington State. Preliminary findings suggest that as many as 7 percent of teachers hired by Washington districts are hired after the first day of school.