Friday, September 14, 2012

Collaborative Work to Help the Teaching Profession

This week I was struck by what is happening in Chicago with the teacher strike, contrasted against the collaborative work going on in Kentucky. Over the past few days, Kentucky was very much focused on elevating the teaching profession. The Prichard Committee has launched a task force to look closely at improving teacher effectiveness. This task force has been charged with looking at teacher preparation, professional development, recruiting and retaining great teachers, and supporting teachers. Hats off to Executive Director Stu Silberman and the task force for looking at these issues in a thoughtful way and engaging teachers in the process.

Also this week, I dropped by to visit with my Teacher Advisory Committee, which was working with our professional development task force. This task force is an outgrowth of our selection as a model state to develop guidelines for professional development and support of teachers as they implement the Common Core State Standards. I was excited to see the group working very hard to develop key recommendations for professional development that I hope will in turn provide the framework for legislation for the 2013 session.

Another group that I am working with is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This group is developing accreditation standards for teacher preparation programs. I am co-chairing the accountability and public reporting committee. Our challenge is to develop key outcome measures for teacher preparation programs, levels of accreditation, public reporting and transparency guidelines, and annual performance requirements.

The national conversation about teachers and the teaching profession was certainly highlighted through the Chicago teacher strike. One of the key issues leading to the strike was the proposed teacher evaluation system that would include some measure of student performance. In Kentucky, we have been working with teachers and other stakeholders for almost two years to develop a statewide teacher effectiveness system.

The goal of our system is not teacher dismissal but teacher professional growth. In the past, our teacher evaluation systems have been narrowly focused without a lot of feedback and support for teacher professional growth. Our proposed system would greatly improve the feedback that teachers receive during the evaluation cycle and also provide access to the best professional development in the world, customized to meet the needs of the individual teacher and thus meet the needs of students in the teacher’s classroom. I was provided with an early look at our comprehensive software system that will provide teachers and administrators with the tools to bring our proposed system to fruition.

I am thankful to be in Kentucky and working with stakeholders who believe in collaboration to elevate and improve the teaching profession.

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