Enhancing Professional Teaching Standards for California
What is the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards? What does it mean for California's more than 200,000 teachers and for the communities in which they work? How can a national system of voluntary certification give new vitality and stature to teaching?
This document is an initial response to such questions. It is the product of nearly eight months of deliberation by 35 teachers, administrators, teacher educators, parents, school board representatives, and foundation officials—the California Task Force on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The task force was convened by California's four highest ranking education officials: the Secretary of Child Development and Education, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the chairs of the Assembly, Education Committee, and the Senate Education Committee. With financial support from the Stuart Foundation of San Francisco and staff support from Policy Analysis for California Education, the task force held a series of intense conversations, discussions, and debates.
The California Task Force examined the fit between California's educational landscape—its present reform agendas, its economic and political conditions, and the daily realities of teaching—and the purposes of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. We sought answers to these questions:
What does the National Board mean by a system of voluntary certification? What are its standards for accomplished teaching? How does it propose to assess teachers' knowledge, skill, and judgment? Will assessments yield reliable and valid evidence of accomplished teaching?
To what extent do the National Board's ideas parallel California's own improvement agendas? Can the proposed system of certification add momentum to educational reform in the state?
What is the incentive for individual teachers to pursue board certification? What recognition can certification bring a teacher? Put in other terms, how might the presence of board certified teachers affect the system of career incentives and rewards in teaching?
What is the potential benefit from board certification to students, parents, and communities? Could board standards and assessments help to provide public assurance about the quality of the state's teachers?
These questions, and the information and preliminary answers in this report of the California Task Force, are designed to open debate and dialogue—among educators and the wider California community concerned about continued improvement in our schools.