Meeting of the Board of Regents | April 2003
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents
Johanna Duncan-Poitier James A. Kadamus
TITLE OF ITEM:
What We�ve Learned at A Call to Teaching Forums in the Big Five City School Districts
DATE OF SUBMISSION:
April 15, 2003
RATIONALE FOR ITEM:
Update on Teaching Forums
On April 8, members of the Board of Regents, Commissioner Mills and State Education staff together with New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and City Department of Education staff conducted A Call to Teaching Forum in New York City, concluding a series of activities in the Big Five city school districts focusing on the recruitment and retention of qualified individuals to teach, particularly in lower performing school districts. The five forums included meetings with local leaders and school district and higher education teaching staff and administrators; press briefings; and A Call to Teaching, a large public session in the late afternoon in which parents, students, prospective teachers, current teachers, college faculty, administrators and school board members participated.
In December, we shared with you issues that emerged from the first three forums in Syracuse/Central New York (November 12), Rochester/Mid-West New York (November 13) and Buffalo/Western New York (November 20). This information was updated in February following the Yonkers/Lower Hudson Forum on January 23.
As a result of participant discussion in New York City, other issues emerged which have been incorporated into the summary of all five forums (See attached.) The summary identifies proposed actions at the State and local levels within the following topical areas:
- Investing in mentoring is critical.
- The practice teaching experience must be worthwhile and positive for prospective teachers.
- The three-year timeline for acquiring a master�s degree needs to be reconsidered.
- Students in middle and high schools need to be given opportunities to engage in teaching experiences to encourage them to pursue teaching careers.
- Experienced classroom teachers need to model good practice and attitudes if we expect new teachers and prospective teachers to be motivated to teach.
- School administrators must create a school climate and environment which support quality teaching and learning.
- A variety of financial incentives are needed to attract teachers to the lowest performing schools.
- A stronger partnership between higher education institutions and school districts is essential to the successful recruitment and retention of teachers.
- The role and importance of teachers must be recognized and valued.
- Experienced teachers are needed in the lowest performing schools to close the gaps in student achievement and to raise the academic achievement of all students.
- Teacher creativity is important in helping students meet the learning standards.
- Parents must become active partners in the education of their children.
- Experienced and motivated individuals must be encouraged to remain in teaching.
What We�ve Learned at the "Call to Teaching" Forums
in the Big Five City School Districts
Syracuse/Central New York � November 12, 2002
Rochester/Mid-West New York � November 13, 2002
Buffalo/Western New York � November 20, 2002
Yonkers/Lower Hudson � January 23, 2003
New York City � April 8, 2003
- Investing in mentoring is critical. Mentoring is an effective way to help new teachers adapt to the classroom. Additional resources are needed to make mentoring more widely available.
- The practice teaching experience must be worthwhile and positive for prospective teachers. Student teaching should be early in a student�s academic preparation. Cooperating teachers should be carefully selected and matched to student needs.
- The three-year timeline for acquiring a master�s degree needs to be reconsidered. The initial years of teaching require the full attention and energies of new teachers. Retaining the five-year timeline for the degree will enable teachers to adjust in the classroom and pursue coursework that adds to their knowledge and skills. Implementing the three-year time line creates financial burden and pressure on teachers seeking professional certification. In particular, consideration should be given to reimburse teachers who teach in lower performing schools for their master�s program expenses. (This incentive is currently available for some school districts through the Teachers of Tomorrow program.)
- Students in middle and high schools need to be given opportunities to engage in teaching experiences to encourage them to pursue teaching careers. Programs like peer tutoring, internships, shadowing, and future teachers clubs are being used in schools to introduce students to teaching at an early age, giving them a level of knowledge about the profession and an enthusiasm for teaching as a career. These programs need to be supported and expanded.
- Experienced classroom teachers need to model good practice and attitudes if we expect new teachers and prospective teachers to be motivated to teach. Poor teaching and negative comments about teaching discourage prospective teachers (students) from pursuing careers in teaching. School guidance counselors need to provide more information on teaching as a career. Individuals who enjoy working with youth should be encouraged to become teachers.
- School administrators must create a school climate and environment which support quality teaching and learning. Effective leaders are essential to driving change. An important responsibility of effective school leadership is collaborating with teachers in developing and implementing comprehensive, substantive, coherent and research-based professional development plans. The plans must address the ongoing needs of teachers as related to school improvement. In particular, new teachers have stressed the need for active support by the school community during their first years of employment. Building principals are key players in creating a school climate which supports quality teaching and learning. In addition, higher education institutions are willing partners and must be called upon to work with districts and teachers to improve their practice. The State must provide data on individual student achievement in a timely manner to allow for effective and individualized instructional strategies to be developed and employed. Also, school leaders must ensure that schools are safe environments for teaching and learning.
- A variety of financial incentives are needed to attract teachers to the lowest performing schools. Incentives (such as additional salary, forgiveness of student loans, housing allowances, and income tax deductions) would help recruit new teachers and encourage existing staff to work in high poverty and high minority schools.
- A stronger partnership between higher education institutions and school districts is essential to the successful recruitment and retention of teachers. Higher education institutions and school districts need to continually communicate about the needs of students given the higher learning standards. This ongoing communication will also enable higher education institutions to remain relevant to the needs of practicing teachers. Higher education representatives at the forums indicated that they are willing to continue to support their graduates as they mature as teachers. District superintendents of schools and college presidents/deans of schools with teacher education programs must take responsibility regionally to ensure that this collaboration occurs.
- The role and importance of teachers must be recognized and valued. A media campaign should be developed promoting awareness of teachers as innovators and key to improving student academic achievement. Also, emphasis should be placed on the critical role that teachers play in ensuring the economic health and stability of communities, the State and the nation through the education of the future workforce.
- Experienced teachers are needed in the lowest performing schools to close the gaps in student achievement and to raise the achievement of all students. In most school districts, it is common practice, based on tenure and longevity, for the most qualified, experienced teachers to work in schools with higher achieving students, and newer, less experienced teachers to work in lower performing schools with high concentrations of poor and minority students. If the gaps in student achievement are to be closed, this trend must be reversed.
- Teacher creativity is important in helping students meet the learning standards. Higher learning standards with higher expectations bring quality learning opportunities to students and creative challenges for teachers. Teachers must develop strategies to help students learn challenging curricula aligned to the standards and use new instructional methods based on student learning styles.
- Parents must become active partners in the education of their children. Schools should develop strategies to encourage parents to be partners with schools in the education of their children. Such strategies should include providing parents training in early reading and mathematics literacy to improve their skills and help their children, and developing printed materials for parents at various literacy levels. In addition, teacher education programs should help teacher candidates to work effectively with parents to improve student learning.
- Experienced and motivated individuals must be encouraged to remain in teaching. Often, the only avenue for teachers to increase their income is to go into administration. Career leaders must be developed, tied to additional compensation, to encourage effective teachers to remain in the classroom or to serve as master teachers to coach or mentor less experienced teachers.