Teacher Continuum – Building a Coherent Path to Accomplished Practice
Today only a small fraction of America’s teachers are Board-certified—having demonstrated that their practice meets high standards for accomplished teaching that lead to research-proven advancements in student learning. To achieve the changes in education outcomes that we seek for all students, the number of accomplished teachers must grow dramatically and quickly. Providing a teacher career continuum is a way to achieve that change.
In other respected professions—such as medicine—achieving Board certification is the norm, not the exception.
It’s also the thread that runs through a coherent system of preparation and growth that culminates in certification, and has become a mark of quality that is recognized and demanded by the public.
To help teaching reach its professional potential, we are working with partners to strengthen a continuum for teaching from pre-service teacher preparation to accomplished practice, then to a variety of leadership roles within the profession.
Professional Career Continuum for Teaching
A strong pre-service experience builds the content knowledge and teaching skills of entering teachers to a level of beginning proficiency, with an eye toward the eventual development of accomplished practice. Preparation of new teachers should require a residency year with a reduced teaching load and intense supervision, enabling the practice-based development of teaching skills.
The early years of a teacher’s career should build on their preparation experience, with a robust mentoring and induction program for novice teachers. The aim is to further new teachers’ efforts to improve their practice, help them understand the priorities of their school and school system, and build relationships with their colleagues. Induction programs should incorporate the Five Core Propositions, the National Board Standards and case analysis of accomplished teaching. That, combined with mentorship from Board-certified practitioners, will strengthen teachers’ early-career development.
Professional teachers, having demonstrated the knowledge and skills needed to advance student learning, benefit from ongoing professional learning and growth. Various systems can shape and support them, including state licensure (or certification) systems, local educator evaluation systems, and professional learning opportunities offered through local education agencies and professional associations.
At the heart of the continuum is National Board Certification, a process designed for teachers to demonstrate, through standards-based evidence, the positive impact they have on student learning as a result of their deep and abiding understanding of students, content knowledge, pedagogical practice, ongoing reflection, and participation in learning communities. Candidates for Board certification submit evidence that their practice meets the Five Core Propositions and National Board Standards, a body of knowledge that is maintained by teachers.
Board certification is a foundation for teacher leadership opportunities to take place in the classroom, as well. Once achieved, Board certification serves as a platform for teachers to grow professionally and to become leaders in their schools, districts, states and the profession.
At the school level, teachers can model what the Five Core Propositions looks like in action, spreading their knowledge and skills to help develop the next generation of accomplished practitioners.
At the district and state level, Board-certified teachers can transform isolated pockets of excellence into system-wide improvement. They can work to support fellow educators along the continuum.
For more information, read What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do, Implications for the Profession.