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Report: Calif. needs to revamp teaching profession

Posted: September 10, 2012 12:16 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2012 12:16 p.m.

In this photo taken Aug. 13, 2012, Matthew Asner, left, talks to his son Will, 9, who is autistic, at his Nestle Avenue Elementary School in the Tarzana district of Los Angeles.

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California needs to overhaul its teaching profession to address a looming shortage of educators as student enrollment is projected to rise, according to a state report released Monday.

The 96-page report by the Task Force on Educator Excellence said the state has focused on too heavily on holding teachers accountable for standardized test scores without properly equipping instructors and schools.

"This dangerous combination has driven many accomplished educators out of the profession," the report stated.

The number of teaching credentials issued from 2004 to 2010 dropped by 40 percent, while the number of college students in teacher training programs plunged by 50 percent, the report said.

"Sadly, our profession has become a profession under siege," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a former teacher, in releasing the report.

Torlakson formed the task force of teachers, administrators and academics in January to come up with ways to improve California's teaching workforce.

The task force identified six key areas that need improvement in order to attract and retain good teachers and to make the system more equitable between wealthier and poorer school districts.

Teacher and administrator education, for one, is uneven in quality. California is the only state where principals can earn a license simply by taking a written test.

Salaries are highly inequitable, with teachers in the toughest assignments in inner-city and rural schools typically earning the least and often are the newest entrants to the profession.

Mentoring of novice teachers and professional development of more experienced veterans has become rare and needs bolstering, the report said.

Job evaluations provide little meaningful feedback and leadership career routes are poor with teachers often stuck for decades doing the same assignment, according to the task force.

The report made numerous recommendations for improvements.

Evaluations should include measures of student learning and a career ladder established to include higher-level positions such as "master teachers" to serve as mentors and role models, the task force suggested.

To address shortages, laid-off teachers should be encouraged to earn an additional credential in a high-need field, such as special education or math, and stipends should be paid to teachers who work in inner-city or rural schools to attract more experienced teachers to those jobs, the report recommended.

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