One of the most significant recommendations to come out of the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching that has gotten very little attention in media and little support from many reformers is our call for teacher-directed, nationally coordinated, teacher licensing and credentialing. Here in the Commission’s own words, is part of our vision of a truly teacher-led profession:

We believe the overwhelming majority of the nation’s 3.5 million teachers are effective practitioners or can become effective with appropriate support and assistance. However, there are some individuals in charge of classrooms today who are not qualified to teach and should not be working with children. If teachers are to be held accountable and responsible for student learning, the profession must take responsibility for the performance of its members.

In order to ensure that every child—regardless of family income, location, or other factors—is taught by effective teachers, it is crucial to set national standards for the preparation, licensing, and certification of educators. Today, individual states establish their own standards for teachers, and some states have established standards for teacher educators. These standards range widely, from highly demanding in some states to insignificant in others. Furthermore, effective teachers and talented teacher candidates often find it unnecessarily difficult to relocate from one state to another because of inconsistent or conflicting licensure policies.

Therefore, we call for a new organization led by effective teachers. The National Council for the Teaching Profession (NCTP) will be responsible for defining and setting the standards for a national system of preparation, licensure, and certification of all teachers and teacher educators.

[Building on work of several existing organizations…] NCTP will work to ensure that each state’s teaching standards are no less rigorous than the national standards. Alignment among state standards will facilitate teacher quality and mobility from state to state.

Bringing this work under one national umbrella group will lead to preparation, licensure, and certification processes that are consistent, efficient, and cost effective. This coordinated effort will support increased student learning by providing access and equitable opportunities for all children.

…..Relying on anyone other than effective teachers to lead this work short-changes teachers and students.

All states will be invited to work together as part of this national body. Initial licensure will continue to be awarded through state education agencies, but state licenses will be based on a single rigorous, consistent set of national standards. The goals are to ensure teacher credentials are rigorous and portable; to streamline the credentialing process for teachers who move from one state to another; and to help remedy the current inequitable distribution of teachers. Schools and districts will respect NCTP-endorsed credentials  because they certify accomplished preparation and practice.

NCTP will set the standards and work toward awarding Professional Teacher Certificates and Master Teacher Certificates, much like the American Medical Association awards board certifications to physicians. Professional certification will become the basic eligibility criteria for educational administrative positions in schools or districts and for teacher educator positions in accredited preparation programs.

….The NCTP will confer with student and parent organizations, seeking their input into defining, preparing, developing, and recognizing effective teaching.

Individuals will be eligible to join NCTP by virtue of their active membership in any of the subscribing organizations.

In addition to identifying and approving standards for the teaching profession, NCTP may share models of teaching and learning, disseminate peer reviewed or research-based best practices, promote professional learning, and act as a clearinghouse for professional information and resources for teachers and teacher educators.

National Council for the Teaching Profession will have:

  • A governing body consisting primarily of highly effective teachers in addition to representatives from participating organizations.
  • A charge to ensure that all licensed and certified teachers have met national standards.
  • Self-sustaining operations.

(from Transforming Teaching: Connecting Professional Responsibility with Student Learning, pp. 6-8)

While it was beyond the scope of the Commission to get too much into the logistics of how such an organization would come into being, we wanted to put forward a vision of what a truly teacher-led educational profession would do.

Do you agree with us that to be a true profession, we need such a coordinated national body? How might this vision become reality?

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