Hard on the heels of the AFT’s proposed “bar exam” for teachers, the Council of Chief State School Officers brings forth this sober, comprehensive, and exceptionally well-thought-out set of recommendations for fundamentally revamping the preparation and licensure of both teachers and principals. It’s a thirty-eight-page blueprint containing ten big recommendations that, if put into practice by states, would indeed be transformative.

Written in straightforward, non-inflammatory prose, the report, in some respects, doesn’t go as far as it could. It does not, for example, do away with state-level certification of educators—which it could justify on grounds that research has found no link between such credentials and actual effectiveness. But it does seek to make certification meaningful by building exacting standards into the framework, standards that rely on evidence of knowledge and performance rather than a checklist of courses taken. Also tucked into the recommendations are such worthy ideas as serious acceptance of alternative pathways and “residency”-style preparation; insistence on real standards for entering prep programs and getting certified; the demand that prep programs respond to K–12 education’s actual supply-demand numbers rather than enrolling as many people as possible (thus probably killing the proverbial ed-school “cash cow” within universities); and tracking the performance of those emerging from various prep programs and institutions—and actually closing those that don’t produce successful professionals.

Underlying all this is the fact that states have plenty of leverage that could be used to boost the quality and effectiveness of the education workforce—and most of them haven’t been using much of it. Of course they should. And this proposal shows how.

A version of this review appeared on Fordham’s Flypaper blog


CCSSO Task Force on Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession, Our Responsibility, Our Promise: Transforming Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession (Washington, D.C.: Council of Chief State School Officers, December 2012).

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