The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) recently outlined some intriguing ways to provide teachers with essential information about licensing they need to make informed choices. Right now, the licensing process can be opaque and varies from state to state.
Improving teacher licensing transparency is a key topic of a report, titled “State Policies to Improve Teacher Preparation,” published by the board’s Teacher Preparation Commission. Commission members suggested state policymakers make changes to their respective teacher preparation programs. These adjustments would improve license transparency and portability, among other core aspects of teachers’ work experiences.
“The job of teaching is harder than ever. We now expect teachers to prepare most students for college, yet the classroom is much more diverse. We require teachers who are skilled at reaching a wide range of learners,” report authors wrote. “Although there are no easy answers, taking action has never been more important.”
One key challenge of attempting to improve the national K-12 teacher training system is what to do with the more than 2,000 providers that prepare aspiring teachers before a state licenses them. Such variance in credential experiences, without a common language to compare the credentials head-to-head, can make it hard for prospective teaching candidates to find the information they need to make informed decisions about what program is right for them.
Greater credential transparency will also help potential teachers gain a clearer sense of what path(s) they need to take during the first three years of their career before they can apply for a National Board Certification, which makes it easier for teachers to transfer their licenses from state to state. This clarity is needed because varying standards exist from state to state for transferring teaching licenses, and without transparency both teachers and school districts can face a frustrating, lengthy transfer process.
SREB also highlights in its report the need to simplify the process of finding and comparing instructor-level data, with a goal of creating transparency so that systems can track teacher outcomes. Right now, data that could help administrators identify patterns and other analytical trends is often siloed. While Credential Engine does not, and will not, track individual-level information, credential-level data about teacher preparation programs could prove useful in providing context and a common language to aid in this effort.
The authors of the SREB report recommend changes to clinical experiences and stronger partnerships between teacher preparation programs and K-12 school districts. Through the Credential Registry, programs that adopt these suggestions could more clearly share and differentiate their offerings.
Throughout the report, SREB makes it clear that they see the importance of improving teacher licensing data and its transparency, and we’re ready to help.