Around the Nation: Examples of State, District and School Initiatives to Support Teaching and Learning
Last fall, Secretary Rod Paige formed the Teacher Assistance Corps (TAC) to work with states as they implement the highly qualified teacher provisions. Teachers, principals, district officials, representatives from higher education, researchers and national leaders made up this group of 45 experts in teacher quality. Department officials and staff joined the group as they traveled to states to listen, learn and share. By spring 2004, TAC visited 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, where teams explained the requirements of the law, answered policy questions, heard about innovative state and local initiatives and learned more about each state's unique environment. Below are some examples of these initiatives. For more complete information, visit www.teacherquality.us.Note: These descriptions of state and local initiatives are intended to share information that may be useful or of interest to teachers. The Teacher Assistance Corps found numerous efforts around the nation to promote teacher quality. The information provided does not reflect any determination by the U.S. Department of Education that the efforts described are effective or scientifically based, nor is the information intended as an endorsement of any of the efforts or programs described.
Professional DevelopmentPennsylvania Governor's Institutes and Academies for Educators
The Pennsylvania Department of Education created these professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators. These intensive summer professional education programs help strengthen educators' subject knowledge and instructional strategies and equip educators with a broad range of tools they can use in the classroom. They provide powerful opportunities to network with peers, to exchange ideas and to share successful practices while receiving additional "tools of the trade." Week-long summer programs are held free of charge at various Pennsylvania institutions of higher education. Teachers apply or are nominated for these opportunities. Examples of programs include Mathematics, Early Childhood Literacy and Data-Driven School Improvement. For more information, visit www.teaching.state.pa.us/teaching/cwp/view.asp?a=11&Q=102406 .Alabama Reading Initiative
This initiative focuses on teacher training to improve students' reading abilities. To participate in the program, schools must adopt the goal of 100 percent literacy, and 85 percent of the faculty must attend a 10-day intensive summer training. The training covers eight modules, including language development, vocabulary, phonics, comprehension strategies and assessment. University faculty work as mentors, providing support, access to research, demonstration and problem-solving assistance. Teachers apply new instructional concepts combined with periodic assessments of students' reading ability. Reading specialists participate in additional training. For more information, visit www.aplusala.org/initiatives/ari/index.asp.Teacher Advancement Program (TAP)
Several states have taken advantage of the Milken Family Foundation's Teacher Advancement Program (TAP), which provides teachers with career path and advancement opportunities. The program focuses on compensating expert teachers for their skills and responsibilities, restructures school schedules to accommodate teacher-led professional development, introduces competitive hiring practices, and pays teachers based on how well they instruct and how much their students learn. The program asserts that these components make the teaching profession more appealing, the job conditions more manageable and the pay for high-quality teachers more generous. Currently, TAP is in eight states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota and South Carolina. TAP schools are supported by a variety of funding sources, including private foundation grants, increases in property tax levies targeted for TAP-like programs, sales tax increases, general revenues from state budgets, district funds and federal dollars available through No Child Left Behind. For more information, visit www.mff.org/tap/tap.taf.Iowa's Beginning Teacher Mentoring and Induction Program
Iowa instituted the Iowa Beginning Teacher Mentoring and Induction Program to "promote excellence in teaching and enhance student achievement." The goals of this program include creating a supportive environment for beginning teachers, enhancing student achievement and providing professional development. The two-year program provides opportunities for coaching and classroom demonstrations and includes release time for mentor-teacher activities such as planning, observing and providing feedback. For more information, visit www.state.ia.us/educate/ecese/doc/btip.html.Arizona's School Services Through Education Technology (ASSET) Portal
The Arizona's School Services Through Education Technology (ASSET) portal was launched in May 2002 and is designed to offer educators nationwide access to professional development opportunities that are free to Arizona teachers and administrators. These include a streamlined video library, a broadcast schedule of instructional programs, and access to a variety of Web-based resources and standards-based lesson plans. Educators can create a personalized professional development plan through an online vehicle called My Compass. ASSET is supported through grants, corporate donations and a school membership structure. For more information, visit www.asset.asu.edu.
Recruitment and RetentionSpecial Education Credentialing for Vermont's General Education Teachers
Vermont's Act 117, passed by the legislature in 2000, is designed to increase the number of qualified special education teachers in the state and to curb special education cost increases. Under this act, the Vermont Department of Education has partnered with institutions of higher education to qualify general education teachers in the area of special education, while focusing on cost-effective practices and consistent operation of special education programs throughout the state. More than 100 general education teachers have received this additional qualification. For more information, visit http://education.vermont.gov/new/html/pgm_act117.html.New York City's Teaching Fellows Program
When faced with a severe teacher shortage in New York City, education officials created the Teaching Fellows Program in 2000. The program recruits candidates who hold at least a bachelor's or master's degree in the subject they would teach. Candidates receive two months of preservice training in the summer before they enter the classroom. The preservice training includes course work toward a master's degree in education, field-based work with experienced New York City teachers, and meetings with an advisor to learn teaching skills and classroom management techniques. A non-taxable stipend of $2,500 is provided to defray living expenses over the summer. After completing training, teaching fellows enter the classroom as full-time first-year teachers. The city pays for the fellows to take evening and weekend coursework toward a master's degree in education at one of 14 area colleges and universities. The coursework usually takes about two years. After three years, candidates are eligible for the state's professional certification. For more information, visit www.nycteachingfellows.org.Florida Employment Web Site
TeachinFlorida.com was created in November 2002 as a response to teacher shortages in Florida schools. The Web site receives approximately 20,000 hits a day from teachers looking for jobs in Florida, district representatives looking for new teacher candidates, and current Florida teachers searching for professional development opportunities or new resources. Users have the ability to customize searches and receive notice when a match is found. These services are free to teachers and school districts. For more information, visit www.teachinflorida.com.
Note: Other states, such as Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, and Louisiana, and Nevada have similar Web sites.Idaho Adopts Passport to Teaching
The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) offers a new approach to certification for both prospective and experienced teachers that uses multi-faceted assessments based on rigorous standards for subject-area knowledge and pedagogy. The focus of ABCTE's assessment process is the identification of individuals with the knowledge and abilities to make an impact on student achievement. Idaho has adopted the assessment process for prospective teachers--Passport to Teaching--as a way to offer interested, talented candidates a new pathway to earn full state certification. For more information, visit www.ABTeach.org.