National Governor's Association, Center for Best Practices
Teacher quality has been a major topic in Ohio politics of late. One of the latest installments of Gov. Ted Strickland's Conversations on Education video series features Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut speaking about teacher quality provisions within the governor's proposed education plan.
An interesting companion to the Ohio discussion of teacher quality is a National Governors Association report on what it takes to recruit, train, and retain the best teachers. It begins by acknowledging that the effectiveness of teachers has the greatest impact on student learning, and then delves into how to build that workforce.
The report first focuses on the issue of attracting teachers and recommends that states attract the best and brightest to the profession. Fordham President Chester E. Finn, Jr. and visiting Fordham fellow Andy Smarick both have thoughts about the feasibility of attracting these types of ‘superstar' teachers (here and here). The governor's plan for education addresses this concern with the creation of a four-year residency program to better prepare all who enter the teaching profession.
The NGA report recommends improving training for both teachers and principals and licensure revision. Gov. Strickland's plan also addresses this recommendation through improvements to the state's alternative licensure program designed to attract individuals with strong content knowledge but no prior classroom experience in teaching. The education plan also creates a career ladder for teachers with four levels of licensure, providing opportunities for advancement based on credentials and experience.
Finally, to make teaching competitive with other occupations, the report recommends linking bonuses or base salary to effectiveness, student performance, or the willingness to teach in hard-to-staff schools. This is not addressed in Governor Strickland's education reform plan.
This report highlights why the quality of teachers is vital to the success of students and recognizes the inherent challenges of meeting that goal. State-by-state reforms are necessary, and Ohio has only just begun the important work of building a truly high-quality educational workforce.
Read the NGA report here, watch Chancellor Fingerhut's video here, and read more about the Governor's plan for education here.