By Teri Burns, Sr. Director, Policy and Programs
For the first time in six months, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing at its August meeting had a full complement of members, including board member Juliet Tiffany-Morales from the Campbell Union School District Board and three other members Gov. Jerry Brown appointed in July. Fortunately, the agenda was not particularly controversial but did address a broad section of areas of CTC oversight, so it served as a good introduction for the new members to the task at hand.
One item of note was the plan for implementing recommendations made by the Teacher Preparation Advisory (TAP) panel, a stakeholder panel established by the commission last year to review and recommend potential improvements to California teacher preparation programs.
Early this year the TAP panel returned a report with 40 recommendations. The August agenda was a review of staff recommendations for prioritizing implementation of those recommendations. CTC staff did a great job of grouping the recommendations and identifying which ones the commission could implement on its own and which would take action by other agencies, including the Legislature. Many of the stakeholders were concerned that the complex item was just released shortly before the meeting, but most concurred with Director Mary Sandy’s analysis that the action before the board was really just the beginning of the review process. Sandy promised many further opportunities for groups to weigh in before the recommendations are final.
In fact, the first recommendation is that the commission establish a standards revision panel to address 17 of the recommendations for potential inclusion in the next version of teacher preparation and induction standards. They also recommended re-establishment of the TPA Users Advisory Committee and a new Performance Assessment Technical Advisory Committee and more. All of these working groups will report back to the CTC with their analysis and recommendations over the next year.
The staff recommended and the commission approved a schedule for study sessions over the next year in many of the recommendation areas. The first was on the August agenda – a session on field experiences and clinical practice for new teachers in credential programs, with reports from three different types of public and private institutions. At the September meeting the CTC will consider the induction process, and proposed considering draft preliminary and induction program standards in December. Following multiple additional reviews and opportunities for input, the standards will not come before the commission for final adoption until February 2015 at the earliest.
Among the recommendations adopted was the establishment of a task group to analyze national trends in early childhood education and preparation, as well as on other states’ approaches to early childhood licensing, with a report back to the commission in December 2013.
Several of the TAP recommendations were not part of this initial effort in recognition of CTC financial and staff resource limitations. The priority as adopted was modification of the teacher preparation programs to better prepare teachers to teach the Common Core State Standards.
The commission approved seven of the 12 staff recommendations and will revisit others at future meetings including a controversial recommendation to develop new single subject content area credentials in dance and theater. Larger districts and dance/theater proponents are supportive, but smaller districts are concerned that they won’t be able to hire teachers with such specialized credentials. Likewise, discussion of a Recognition of Study in Linked Learning was also postponed. As indicated, there will be plenty more time for these discussions.
Advocates for changes in the credentialing curriculum testified on both this item and item 3C – the proposed adoption of Preliminary Administrative Services Credential preparation programs. In both programs there was a request to add emphasis and education about positive behavioral intervention strategies, mental health awareness and additional focus on the needs of English-language learners. On this item, the commission chose to postpone action to allow stakeholders to review newly proposed language.
Remembering that it will be at least two years before teacher programs are really held accountable for these changes, and that most districts are not hiring large numbers of new teachers each year, the advocates will be well advised to look to local professional development efforts to make the culture changes they are seeking if they hope to see them in classrooms soon.