It is commonly known that 50 percent of new teachers leave teaching within the first five years. In addition, young people studying to be teachers generally score in the bottom quartile of the college entrance examinations--Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT). Several recent studies indicate the following conditions correlate with the above factors:
As the number of able teachers continues to decline, there is a severe need for greater numbers of teachers in many fields and geographic areas to meet the classroom needs and accountability standards of the various states. In particular, able teachers are needed to improve the academic achievement of students and to narrow the achievement gap between high and low socio-economic students.
To alleviate the critical shortage of able teachers, public education cannot avoid examining current practices related to teacher compensation and employment conditions. The following proposal suggests a new means of increasing the number of individuals choosing to become teachers, choosing to remain in classrooms and choosing to teach in current areas of critical need.
A Proposal for Consideration
Each state shall establish State Registries on Advanced Teaching Criteria. Registries could be developed to address specific state concerns such as the ability of teachers to assist all students to meet state accountability measures. The Registries could be drafted to incorporate many of the criteria used in National Teacher Board Certification. These criteria have been developed with significant input from the national teacher unions and are recognized as legitimate measures of teacher success. The concept of additional compensation for additional skills has been accepted by unions as evidenced by the common practice of states and/or local school districts to award additional compensation for this added achievement.
A Request For Proposal (RFP) will be issued for a service provider to develop criteria for membership in the Registry. Once in the Registry, teachers become eligible to be employed by contract separate from current salary schedules. The service provider shall establish criteria that identifies teachers producing high student achievement; narrowing the achievement gap between high and low socio-economic students and/or are qualified to teach in the current areas of critical need. Other appropriate criteria include interpersonal skills, demand in the teaching field, special demands of the setting, commitment to long-term service and energy to work extended hours.
The Registry could have two classifications of candidates:
1. Experienced teachers who have a track record of proven success improving achievement of students.
2. Non-traditional candidates who have a proven knowledge base of the subjects(s) they desire to teach but have no training, certification or license which attests to their pedagogical expertise, interpersonal skills, and/or their ability to motivate students. This classification will require a different set of criteria for identification and possibly a different set of contract and compensation benefits.
Once the Registry has been established, teachers currently working in any school system in the state may apply to become a member of the Registry. Once accepted for Registry individuals would then be eligible for contract employment. Registry teachers must, however, meet the Advanced Teaching Criteria. Selection for membership in the Registry would be controlled by the standards established by the RFP service provider as accepted and modified by the state.
Under this program individuals would be attracted to teach in the state because:
1. Salary can be negotiated with individual districts;
2. A three-year contract is provided;
3. Responsibilities can be individualized to the teacher;
4. Status is established by meeting the Advanced Teaching Criteria;
5. Market focus would produce increased numbers of quality individuals entering the teaching profession; and
6. Added recognition and compensation will help bolster teaching satisfaction.
An advantage of this program is the relatively low cost for the state. Criteria can be developed for less than $50,000 and the operation of the Registry will cost less than $50,000 each year. Therefore, the continuing cost is less than $50,000 to obtain a more effective group of teachers through a vigorous selection process.
The State Registry on Advanced Teaching Criteria can be established by legislation or by standards or regulations promulgated by the State Education Agency. The important components are:
1. A vigorous criteria which identifies highly effective teachers who have demonstrated enhancement of student achievement;
2. Identification of individuals who can effectively teach in critical areas of need or in high-risk areas;
3. Identification of persons who have a long-term commitment to education;
4. An individual contract for salary, benefits and work requirements; and
5. A three-year contract renewable upon exemplary service six months prior to the end of the contract.
The success of the Registry program will depend on aggressive recruitment of teachers to be on the Registry. Provisions should also be made for talented individuals who are interested in teaching outside their licensed areas to receive "fast-track" certification if that is the one missing criterion needed to qualify for the Registry. The objective is to attract effective individuals to become teachers, stay in teaching, apply for Registry recognition and receive market-level compensation and working conditions.
Bainbridge, William L. and Burkholder, Suzanne, "Using A Market Place Model to Attract Teachers," Illinois State School Board Journal, Springfield, Illinois, to be published in November, 2001 and ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education, Washington, D.C., October, 2001.
Balich, Anjanetta M., "Maryland Teacher Shortage Expected to Keep Growing, Likely Will Peak in 2003." Maryland State Department of Education News Release, February 13, 2001.
Blair, Julie, "Lawmakers Plunge into Teacher Pay," Education Week, 21 Feb. 2001, pp. 1, 16.
Bryant, B. J., "Teacher Supply and Demand in the United States," American Association for Employment in Education, Columbus, Ohio, 2000.
Illinois State Board of Education web site, http://www.isbe.state.il.us.
"S.R.E.B. Reduce Your Losses: Help New Teachers Become Veteran Teachers," Southern Regional Education Board," Atlanta, Georgia, 2001
Symonds, William C., Palmer, Ann Therese and Hylton, Hilary, "How to Fix America's Schools," Business Week Online, 19 March 2001.
"Teacher Supply Shrinking as Attrition Rises, Private Sector Calls, and Enrollment Grows." Illinois State Board of Education News Release, Dec. 14, 2000.
Wilson, Christy Lynn, "The Salary Gap," Quality Counts 2000: Who Should Teach? Teacher Quality, 2000.
Wyatt, Edward, "New Plans to Lure Retired Teachers," New York Times, 15 Sept. 2000, p. A.1.
Dr. M. Donald Thomas is Chairman of the SchoolMatch Advisory Board and former Superintendent of Schools in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was previously educational accountability advisor to the governors of South Carolina, Tennessee, and South Dakota. As Deputy Superintendent of the South Carolina State Department of education, he directed the Division of Public Accountability, representing the Governor to ensure equitable delivery of educational programs. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of School Administrators and has achieved national recognition as a school administrator, education reformer, researcher, author and speaker. The Horace Mann League honored him as "Educator of the Year" 1997. Thomas earned his doctorate at the University of Illinois.