Linda Darling-Hammond

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has elected Linda Darling-Hammond as its chair, placing one of the nation’s foremost authorities on education in a position to shape the state’s policies affecting the recruitment and training of teachers and principals in a year where major changes are in the works.

Darling-Hammond is a professor at the Stanford University School of Education and author of 300 publications. Appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the Commission last year, she has been the vice chair and was in line to succeed English teacher Charles Gahagan. The only question was whether she would have time for the job.

She was voted chair on Friday, the same day that the Commission voted to ask staff to pursue an idea she has pushed: requiring candidates for a preliminary administrative credential to pass a performance assessment, measuring their ability to handle the complexities of school site leadership.

Darling-Hammond has advocated making teacher and administrator training programs more rigorous and holding universities and programs that grant credentials accountable for producing effective teachers. California’s requirement that all teaching candidates pass a performance assessment, which she helped create at Stanford, is a step toward that goal.

In an interview Saturday, Darling-Hammond said the Commission has several major projects in the works for the next year: updating the state’s standards for teaching to incorporate Common Core standards in math and English language arts, rewriting standards for administrators, and rethinking the credential to teach special education,  where there is a critical shortage of teachers.

Darling-Hammond has called for creating more career paths for experienced teachers and for districts to create more time daily for teachers to collaborate. She has spoken out against evaluating teachers based largely on standardized test scores. If the Legislature does try to rewrite the state’s teacher evaluation law next year, lawmakers will likely solicit her advice.

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