The Council of Chief State School Officers report: Teacher training programs need reform

20 Dec

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CSSO) has released a report, Our Responsibility Our Promise: Transforming Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession which calls for reform of teacher training programs. Moi wrote in Teacher credentials: ‘Teacher Performance Assessment’:

Because teacher training programs will be evaluated by the National Council on Teacher Quality, there is interest in examining how teachers are prepared. See, Building Better Teachers Amy Hetzner and Becky Vevea of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have written the article, How Best to Educate Future Teachers which is part of a series

Alverno College, the small women’s college on Milwaukee’s south side, has been widely cited as a national model for training teachers, thanks to its combination of clinical and classroom experience and use of video and other tools to evaluate whether graduates are meeting the standards for what makes a good teacher….

Key elements of an excellent teacher education program:

  • Strong content knowledge, teaching skills. Future teachers gain a solid grounding in the content to be taught as well as how to teach it.

  • Flexible methods. Emphasis is placed on teaching diverse learners – knowing how to differentiate teaching to reach a broad range of students.

  • Fieldwork. Coursework clearly is connected to fieldwork. The clinical experience, like in medical school, consists of intensive student-teaching, preferably for a semester or entire year, under the supervision of an experienced mentor.

  • Professional mentors. Mentors observe future teachers in the classroom – sometimes videotaping for later analysis – and work with them on everything from lesson-planning and creating assignments to monitoring student progress and grading.

  • Designated “learning schools.” Mentors and school sites for student-teaching are well-chosen. There are close relationships and a sense of joint responsibility among the school sites at which future teachers train, the local district and the teacher-education program.

  • Escalating teaching responsibilities. Future teachers gradually take over a full classroom, first teaching short segments on a single topic with a small group of students, then co-teaching with the mentor before assuming full responsibility for a class.

  • Feedback. Feedback from multiple sources (mentors, professors, peers) is routine.

  • Selective admission standards. Admission to the program is selective; not everyone has the necessary skills or demeanor to be an effective teacher.

Sources: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education; faculty at Columbia University Teachers College, Stanford and Harvard Universities. Compiled by Justin Snider of The Hechinger Report

These are the elements that have made the graduates of Alverno College successful.

Here is the press piece from CSSO:

Our Responsibility, Our Promise: Transforming Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession

Author(s) CCSSO Task Force on Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession
Publication date December 2012
publication pdf Click here to download Our Responsibility Our Promise: Transforming Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession
Twenty-five states have agreed to advance the recommendations in the report. Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia
Click here to see quotes of support of this work. Organizations supporting this work: American Federation of Teachers, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, Data Quality Campaign, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, National Education Association, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, State Higher Education Executive Officers.

Our Responsibility, Our Promise: Transforming Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession was written by a CCSSO task force composed of current and former chief state school officers, with input from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and the National Governors Association (NGA). This report is a call to action for chiefs and an invitation to our colleagues, especially members of NASBE and NGA who contributed to this report, and those in educator preparation and others interested in transforming entry into the education profession for teachers and principals to join us in supporting the implementation of the recommendations contained in this report. While the report attempts to focus on the state policy levers chiefs can activate, it is clear that the work required by these recommendations is not easy and will require the leadership and collaboration of all stakeholders involved in P-20 education.

Task Force on Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession


  • Tom Luna, Chair, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Idaho
  • Terry Holliday, Vice-Chair, Commissioner of Education, Kentucky
  • Virginia Barry, Commissioner of Education, New Hampshire
  • Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of Education, Massachusetts
  • Judy Jeffrey, Former Director of Education, Iowa
  • Christopher Koch, Superintendent of Education, Illinois
  • Rick Melmer, Former Secretary of Education, South Dakota
  • Jim Rex, Former State Superintendent of Education, South Carolina
  • Melody Schopp, Secretary of Education, South Dakota


  • David Archer, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor John Hickenlooper, Colorado
  • Jeanne Burns, Board of Regents, Louisiana


  • Brenda Gullett, NASBE Board of Directors, Arkansas Board of Education
  • Steven Pound, NASBE Board of Directors, Maine Board of Education
  • Patrick A. Guida, Esquire, NASBE Board of Directors, Rhode Island Board of Education

Contact:Kate Dandokated@ccsso.org202-336-7034

Here is the conclusion of the report:

Through this report, we are asking all chief state school officers and leaders of the education systems in their respective states to commit to taking the following actions to ensure we have an education workforce prepared to enter the profession ready to teach and ready to lead.

We believe the entry point on the continuum of development for teachers and leaders is the foundation for the remainder of their career, and we must set a level of expectation that will ensure they are ready on day one. We feel strongly that, individually and collectively, chiefs should commit to the following state actions:


1. States will revise and enforce their licensure standards for teachers and principals to support the teaching of more demanding content aligned to college- and career readiness and critical thinking skills to a diverse range of students.

2. States will work together to influence the development of innovative licensure performance assessments that are aligned to the revised licensure standards and include multiple measures of educators’ ability to perform, including the potential to impact student achievement and growth.

3. States will create multi-tiered licensure systems aligned to a coherent developmental continuum that reflects new performance expectations for educators and their implementation in the learning environment and to assessments that are linked to evidence of student achievement and growth.

4. States will reform current state licensure systems so they are more efficient, have true reciprocity across states, and so that their credentialing structures support effective teaching and leading toward student college- and career-readiness.

Program Approval

5. States will hold preparation programs accountable by exercising the state’s authority to determine which programs should operate and recommend candidates for licensure in the state, including establishing a clear and fair performance rating system to guide continuous improvement. States will act to close programs that continually receive the lowest rating and will provide incentives for programs whose ratings indicate exemplary performance.

6. States will adopt and implement rigorous program approval standards to assure that educator preparation programs recruit candidates based on supply and demand data, have highly selective admissions and exit criteria including mastery of content, provide high quality clinical practice throughout a candidate’s preparation that includes experiences with the responsibilities of a school year from beginning to end, and that produce quality candidates capable of positively impacting student achievement.

7. States will require alignment of preparation content standards to PK-12 student standards for all licensure areas.

8. States will provide feedback, data, support, and resources to preparation programs to assist them with continuous improvement and to act on any program approval or national accreditation recommendations.

Data Collection, Analysis, and Reporting

9. States will develop and support state-level governance structures to guide confidential and secure data collection, analysis, and reporting of PK-20 data and how it informs educator preparation programs, hiring practices, and professional learning.

Using stakeholder input, states will address and take appropriate action, individually and collectively, on the need for unique educator identifiers, links to non-traditional preparation providers, and the sharing of candidate data among organizations and across states.

10. States will use data collection, analysis, and reporting of multiple measures for continuous improvement and accountability of preparation programs.29


Implementing these 10 recommended actions will take the leadership and political will of the chief state school officer and the involvement of many key stakeholders in each state including their partners from NASBE and NGA. Implementation will also require resources and support from many different levels of the system. Collectively, the commitment from a number of state chiefs to move forward with implementation of transformed policies in licensure; program approval; and data collection, analysis, and reporting will increase the knowledge and skills of the educator workforce.

Hiring teachers who are learner-ready and principals who are school-ready along with these focused actions will help chiefs meet their responsibility and promise of helping students reach our heightened expectations of college- and career-readiness.

Jay Mathews has written an interesting Washington Post article, Why teacher training fails our teachers:

American public elementary and secondary schools spend about $20 billion a year on what is called professional development — helping teachers do their jobs better. Many teachers will tell you much of that is a waste of time and money.

Now, three former teachers involved in training have discovered an important reason. Teachers are rarely given time and opportunity to practice what they have learned.

Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better,” is the new book by Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi exposing this flaw in teacher training and the way most of us learn any complex skill. Professional athletes know the value of repeating moves again and again before the game starts. Michael Jordan was famous for how much time he spent practicing in the gym, even after he became a superstar…

For teachers, the authors of “Practice Perfect” say, pre-game repetition is crucial. “If a teacher’s performance during a given class is less than what she wanted, she cannot get it back,” they say. “She cannot as, say, a lawyer working on a contract might do, stop in the middle of her work and call someone to ask for advice. She can’t give it her best shot and then, as we are doing as we write this book, go back and tinker and revise and have the luxury of being held accountable for a final product that reflects actions taken and reconsidered over an extended period….”

They learned this only recently after analyzing the results of a study of great teachers in high-poverty public schools, reported in Lemov’s previous best-selling book, “Teach Like a Champion.” The teachers with the best results “were often the most likely to focus on small and seemingly mundane aspects of their daily work.” The authors liken this to legendary basketball coach John Wooden, who went so far as to teach players how to put their socks on correctly. But the insight did not immediately illumine the importance of practice….

The authors realized that their trainees hadn’t practiced. It was the equivalent of trying to learn a new backhand in the middle of a match at center court Wimbledon.

They added repetitive exercises to their training workshops. Teachers played students so the situation would resemble a real classroom. Teachers still had trouble getting it right. The real world situation was too distracting, The authors dialed down the student disruption so their trainees had a chance to do the technique correctly several times. Once it became automatic, they could handle unpredictable moments….

In the future, schools will still often spend big money on training teachers in ineffective ways. Learning to practice, this book vividly illustrates, takes time and effort, trial and error. It won’t happen tomorrow. But even a small movement in the direction of more practice will reap benefits, in teaching and many other things we do.

Every child has a right to a good basic education. In order to ensure that every child has a good basic education, there must be a quality teacher in every classroom.


National Council on Teacher Quality

How I was evaluated as a first-year teacher – 10/04/2012

A first year teacher, ripe for feedback and improvement, gets none.

What’s the Latest on Teacher Evaluation? – 10/02/2012

We’ve got the skinny on what states are doing to evaluate their teachers and award them tenure. Read more

2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook

January 2012

State of the States: Trends and Early Lessons on Teacher Evaluation and Effectiveness Policies

October 2011

State of the States 2012: Teacher Effectiveness Policies

October 2012

Center for Teaching Quality

The National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality


Linda Darling-Hammond on teacher evaluation

Report: Measuring teacher effectiveness

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