Published: November 8, 2017
As California continues its struggle to attract and retain quality teachers, many of the state’s aspiring educators recently received some much-needed support.
The California State Board of Education recently approved its ESSA plan, vastly widening its supply of capable teachers throughout the state by removing the label “ineffective teacher” from educators possessing intern and preliminary teaching credentials.
“Helping students learn how to become life-long learners, adjust to these policies, how they impact the classroom, and how they impact the teaching and learning process are things that we’ve already been integrating into our program,” says Elizabeth Chamberlain, Associate Dean for Pacific Oaks School of Education. “There are so many teachers out there already doing wonderful things to help students to reach their maximum potential.”
The proposal could finally allow these teachers to shed the negative label of “ineffective.”
The plan has been submitted to the federal government for review and approval, pending compliance with federal guidelines.
The Every Student Succeeds Act is the newest reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Passed by Congress in 2015, the federal guidelines are former President Obama’s replacement for the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In an effort to grant states increased flexibility with federal funding, Congress granted them the ability to set their own performance goals and strategies for measuring student achievement. State plans must ultimately still be approved by the federal government.
Under NCLB, “highly qualified teachers” were defined by federal law. They were required to meet the following three criteria:
Under ESSA, the “highly qualified” label was replaced with “effective” and “ineffective.” Additionally, with federal requirements eliminated, any teacher who meets state-approved certification is labeled “effective.” Those who do not are labeled “ineffective.”
Contrary to many other states, California’s proposed plan does not seek to define what an “effective” teacher is. In fairness, many educational leaders believe there are simply too many immeasurable ways in which great teachers can be effective with their students.
“In my opinion, an effective teacher is someone who has the ability to help the total child, not only academically, but in the social and emotional areas, too,” says Jerell Hill, administrative faculty for Pacific Oaks School of Education. “You’ve made an impact on them that will change the trajectory of their lives. You help them realize something in themselves that no one else has ever been able to tap. That’s the big idea of effectiveness.
By allowing intern and preliminary teaching credentials to meet state-approved standards, thus stripping the label of “ineffective teacher” from aspiring educators, the state essentially broadening the scope of effectiveness without restricting it by definition.
Additionally, the California State Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators determined that, often times, teachers being labeled ineffective” were placed in some of the lowest-performing schools and tasked with teaching the states “priority students” (poverty-stricken students and English-learners). This made it difficult to escape the label as teachers struggled to produce desirable student outcomes like high test scores for students whose success could have been measured by a number of other factors.
“If you’ve been able to get a child to come to school with a smile on their face that lives in poverty, or is in foster care,” says Hill. “You know there are levels of effectiveness that occur depending on the situation. Effectiveness is really unique to the situation, but ultimately it is having an impact on student achievement.”
By removing the “ineffective teacher” label, two important things are accomplished.
First, it could better disperse teachers across a larger number of schools, giving “priority students” access to a greater number of experienced educators and decreasing the achievement gap between teachers in priority and more affluent areas.
Second, it removes a stigma that is inevitably attached to the word “ineffective” for new educators who are attempting to help solve California’s teacher shortage. It’s an important step for a state hoping to inspire more individuals to pursue the noble profession of teaching through acquiring their teaching credentials.
All California public school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution to earn teaching credentials.
However, you do not need to have a bachelor’s degree in order to begin the credential program. Pacific Oaks College offers “blended” programs that allow candidates to complete their undergraduate degree and credential simultaneously and in less time than if they pursued these objectives separately.
For more information about teacher credentialing and education programs go to pacificoaks.edu/teacher-credentialing-education-programs/