“License to Transform” Draws Connections between Licensure and Teacher Effectiveness with Students; Offers Recommendations to Fix the System
BOSTON, MA, July 17, 2014—A newly released policy brief from the Massachusetts Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows puts spotlight on the state’s educator licensure and offers recommendations to streamline the system and connect it to measures of teacher effectiveness in the classroom. The brief, “License to Transform: Teachers Speak Out on Educator Licensure,” was authored by 21 Fellows, all of whom teach across schools and districts in the state.
“Connecting teacher licensure to demonstrated effectiveness in the classroom helps us to increase the prestige of the teaching profession,” said Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow Michael Phaneuf, a lead author of the paper and a special education teacher in Boston Public Schools.
As part of the brief, the Fellows reviewed Massachusetts’ current licensure model and found it unduly bureaucratic with many unnecessary barriers for high-quality teaching candidates. They also found that the current system fails to measure what matters most – classroom effectiveness. The authors recommend a new system with three levels of licenses linked to evaluative measures for maintaining and/or advancing to the next license level. The licensure recommendations are specifically designed to help Massachusetts recruit, develop, and retain high-quality teachers.
The release of the brief is tied to a recently-launched Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s analysis and redesign of educator licensure policy which encompasses extensive stakeholder engagement.
“We are deeply committed to including teacher voice in this process,” said Heather Peske, Associate Commissioner for Educator Quality at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The brief includes the following recommendations for a three-license system:
• Apprentice License: To gain a license, new teachers should have to pass a performance assessment at the end of their practicum or internship that mirrors the state evaluation system. The Apprentice license would allow those new to teaching to manage their own classroom for a maximum of three years.
• Practitioner License: To obtain the full license, teachers should have at least one evaluation with the rating of Proficient and complete a one-year mentorship program with a trained mentor. Teachers should be able to renew their Practitioner licenses every five years if they continue to receive Proficient ratings and acquire a limited number of Professional Development Points.
• Master License: Teachers should be able to earn a Master license by demonstrating a high degree of effectiveness through the state evaluation system. The Master license should be automatically renewed every five years as long as the teacher continues to receive Exemplary ratings.
The recommendations come from research of best practices and academic studies, from the experiences of the teacher authors, and from survey results from an event called “Rethinking Teacher Licensure,” (April 30, 2014) in which 64 teachers met with Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester and department officials to share their ideas for a new licensure system. Of the teachers surveyed at this event, 84% agreed that a full teaching license should indicate demonstrated ability in the classroom.
“All students need outstanding teachers. The teachers are clear: we must ensure that a Massachusetts teaching license is a real indicator of teaching quality,” said Teach Plus Massachusetts Executive Director Lindsay Sobel.
About Teach Plus
Teach Plus aims to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Teach Plus runs three programs designed to place teacher leaders at the center of reform: Teaching Policy Fellows, the Core Collaborative (C2), and T3: Turnaround Teacher Teams. The programs focus on demonstrably effective teachers who want to continue classroom teaching while also expanding their impact as leaders in their schools and in district, state and national policy. Since its inception in August 2009, Teach Plus has grown to a network of more than 17,000 solutions-oriented teachers in six major cities across the country. www.teachplus.org