California officials will work to improve preparation, assessments and support for teachers under a plan approved by the U.S. Department of Education to make sure all students have access to qualified educators.
On Thursday, the department approved plans submitted by the District of Columbia and 17 states, including California, as part of its Excellent Educators for All Initiative. Last month, the department approved plans for 16 other states.
In July 2014, the department launched the initiative by asking states to create plans to ensure students – particularly low-income and minority students – have effective teachers. Department research shows that schools with large numbers of low-income and minority students tend to employ more teachers who are less experienced or are not fully credentialed. Nationally, black and American Indian students are four times as likely as white students to be in a school with more than 20 percent first-year teachers, while Latino students are three times as likely to be in such schools, according to the department.
“All students should have access to excellent teachers. That’s a matter of simple fairness,” said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, in a statement. “This plan details California’s efforts to make sure students from low-income families and students of color have the same access to experienced and qualified teachers as other students. I’m pleased the federal government has approved the plan.”
“All students should have access to excellent teachers. That’s a matter of simple fairness,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
California’s proposal, submitted in July, details the credential status of teachers in schools with large numbers of low-income and minority students. In 2013, 98 percent of the state’s 288,239 teachers had full credentials.
Although most teachers are fully credentialed, less experienced teachers are slightly more concentrated in schools with large populations of low-income and minority students, according to the state’s research.
In schools with large low-income student populations, about 10.6 percent of teachers had less than two years of teaching experience, compared to about 8.2 percent in schools with few low-income students. The state’s plan refers to the difference between the two as an “equity gap” – in this case 2.4 percent – that it will attempt to reduce.
The numbers were similar in schools with large minority student populations. About 10.2 percent of teachers had less than two years of experience in those schools, compared to about 8.6 percent in schools with fewer minority students. The gap is 1.6 percent.
Educators discussed the “relatively small size of the equity gaps” during meetings about the issue in June. Still, the plan must address how to narrow those gaps.
The plan outlines efforts to address equity gaps through the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, which directs funds to low-income, English learner and other student groups.
The plan includes the state’s intent to: change its teacher assessments to show that teachers are prepared to instruct the Common Core standards, gather information about the quality of teacher-preparation programs, make sure teachers know about students’ cultures and improve programs to help new teachers.
States must track and publicly report progress on their plans. California’s plan sets an annual timeline for its goals through 2016-17.
“All parents understand that strong teaching is fundamental to strong opportunities for their children,” said Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education, in a statement. “We as a country should treat that opportunity as a right that every family has – regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin, zip code, wealth, or first language.”
To get more reports like this one, click here to sign up for EdSource’s no-cost daily email on latest developments in education.
We welcome your comments. All comments are moderated for civility, relevance and other considerations. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.
Paul Muench 8 years ago8 years ago
Young children need a lot of attention to spark their motivation to learn. I’d guess it’s very hard to distinguish quality from quantity at the early stages of education. Maybe older students need more quality than quantity as challenging them becomes more difficult. Most wealthy parents don’t have teacher training but they still find a way to help their children.
Rae Adams 8 years ago8 years ago
Well stated, John. I would also offer that we have a growing supply of National Board Certified Teachers in CA and across the country who have yet to be mobilized and utilized in ways to address and propose solutions to the issues you raise. The pipeline into teaching has never reflected criteria for aspiring teachers to see themselves as Board Certified, as in other industries, and therefore the END of their preparation is equivalent … Read More
Well stated, John.
I would also offer that we have a growing supply of National Board Certified Teachers in CA and across the country who have yet to be mobilized and utilized in ways to address and propose solutions to the issues you raise. The pipeline into teaching has never reflected criteria for aspiring teachers to see themselves as Board Certified, as in other industries, and therefore the END of their preparation is equivalent to a “one size fits all” designed to earn a preliminary license. These “newbies” learn that they must CLEAR their credential in five years, via an approved induction program once they have gained employment. This seems to suggest that have been “trained”, and may believe, that they cannot teach effectively without participating in a funded two year induction program with a trained Mentor…. where is the growth mindset for our aspiring and newly licensed teachers? What if we thought differently about the preparation of teachers by integrating tools and resources that increase their effectiveness for day one of the job that are not currently included in teacher prep? What if we explored new ways of supporting and inspiring new teachers candidates that DECLARE that they want to be teacher leaders upon ENTRY into the profession and preparation programs, vs. midstream or never? What if first and second year teachers DON’T have access to funded induction programs that determine if they will CLEAR their credentials? What are alternatives that could be put in place to ensure that we produce and retain new hires that provide EVIDENCE of effectiveness and advance learning for every student, every day, regardless of induction support. I propose that we offer a National Board Distinction Pathway for all teacher candidates in any preparation program that aims to increase the effectiveness, readiness and performance of a newly licensed teachers, WAY before they step into the first year of employment; When aspiring teachers (identified in high school) join the NB Distinction Pathway, they commit to engage on a trajectory to achieve a goal of becoming BOARD certified in year 5 of evidence based, successful teaching… they are prepared to provide evidence of advancing student learning with or without an induction provider. They have “built in mentors” from the field and with each other in virtual and on ground communities who are not PAID to serve, but CHOOSE to serve their fellow peers. These newbies acknowledge that they will be ready on day 1, and if there are funds for extra beginning support, GREAT, but if not, ineffective teaching is not excusable. We may have a shortage, but we are obligated to fill any spot with an effective teacher and that means we need to develop innovative models and strategies that ensure each child does not suffer because of a teacher shortage. I hope that the disruptive innovators keep exploring “out of the box” to discover and advocate for new approaches to solve the anticipated problems. Elevating the voices of teachers and providing them with more platforms to contribute to these conversations will clearly shape cost effective and research based, promising alternatives.
John Affeldt 8 years ago8 years ago
It's no surprise but it is disheartening that the feds have approved California's disappointingly weak plan to close the teacher equity gap. California's plan assiduously avoids proposing many of things that only the state itself can do to really improve teacher quality and decrease inequities. These include steps to address the growing teacher shortage issue and the failure of all districts to offer the teacher induction needed by new teachers to obtain their … Read More
It’s no surprise but it is disheartening that the feds have approved California’s disappointingly weak plan to close the teacher equity gap. California’s plan assiduously avoids proposing many of things that only the state itself can do to really improve teacher quality and decrease inequities. These include steps to address the growing teacher shortage issue and the failure of all districts to offer the teacher induction needed by new teachers to obtain their clear credential. Our teacher prep programs have seen huge drops in the number of candidates and graduates over the last decade. The state now lacks a sufficient pipeline to replace retiring and departing teachers and, as a consequence, equity gaps for low-income students and students of color will only grow. Where in the past the state has offered fellowships, scholarships, loan forgiveness and other incentives for attracting new teachers, this Administration has resisted all such efforts. Similarly, the Governor killed a measure to ensure all districts offer induction programs–programs which have been shown to significantly increase retention of new teachers. Under the mantra of “local control”, the Administration has forgotten that the state itself also has some key overarching duties to maintain basic equality of educational opportunity in our public schools. Those would include ensuring that California has an adequate supply of qualified teachers and that all teachers have access to the minimum training needed to fulfill credential requirements.