Twenty-five states have voluntarily agreed to enact new policies on teacher and principal licensure and certification, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) which released a report on transforming educator preparation on December 19. Although the report focuses on those state policy levers chiefs can activate through state education agencies, the recommendations “will require the leadership and collaboration of all stakeholders involved in P-20 education.”

In an attempt to not be overly prescriptive about how changes should be made to teacher and principal preparation programs, the report defines “learner-ready teachers” and “school-ready principals” and identifies 10 state actions that can help shape policies on licensure, program approval, and the use of student outcomes and other beginning teacher and leader performance data in the evaluation of preparation programs.

According to the report, few principal preparation programs make a concerted effort to recruit educators who exhibit the potential to become effective school leaders, and the reality is that many people who enroll in these programs do not aspire to serve as principals or assistant principals upon graduation. States are encouraged to revise their salary incentives “to ensure that we are using our resources to prepare the best principals possible to create learning environments for students to achieve and grow and teachers to implement effective instructional practices.” School districts should also actively partner with preparation programs in creating a more “selective and probing” process in recommending who should be prepared to be school leaders in the future.

NASSP agrees that principal preparation programs should recruit high-quality candidates to enter their programs and ensure that graduates are committed to serving as school leaders. We feel that candidates should have demonstrated success as a classroom teacher and show prior success in leading adults, have an advanced, and demonstrate a passion and commitment to leadership.

The report includes recommendations on induction and mentoring for new teachers, but it provides no similar guidance for principal preparation programs. NASSP recommends that aspiring principals should receive training during a year-long pre-service residency that includes coaching from an effective principal and hands-on instructional leadership experience. New school leaders should receive the benefits of induction for up to three years.

CCSSO attempts to address concerns of portability of teacher and principal licenses across states by encouraging common requirements in preparation programs and performance standards. They also encourage states to shift away from the duality of licensure as either traditional or alternative and create one standard for pathways into the profession.

The report states that preparation and entry into the profession “compose the first phase of a continuum of development for teachers and principals and are the foundation on which a teacher or principal builds his or her career.” Ongoing professional learning, collaboration with colleagues, and feedback on the performance of teachers and principals will be the focus of future reports issued by CCSSO.

Read the full report here.

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