Maher: Raising Standards While Making the Profession Less Desirable
This is a guest post from Michael Maher [@mj_maher], who works at the NC State College of Education:
I’m not one to decry higher standards, for teachers and teacher education, but one has to wonder how we will continue to staff public school classrooms as North Carolina further disincentivizes the profession while increasing standards for future teachers.
Here’s a little bit of what the NC General Assembly has done this legislative session that impacts public school teachers:
- Elimination of tenure in favor of contracts up to 4 years (with performance measures not yet defined)
- No raises again this year: teachers have received a 1% raise over the past 5 years, resulting in NC slipping to 48th in average teacher salary in America
- Elimination of supplemental pay for master’s degrees
- Reduction in teacher assistant funding by 21%. Some schools use 2 TA positions to fund 1 teaching position. This results in larger class sizes.
- Phase out of the NC Teaching Fellows Program while funding Teach For America at $12 million.
At the same time, we see a push toward raising standards, including a series of new tests and requirements for teacher preparation programs.
To be admitted to a teacher preparation program, students will now be required to complete the new Praxis I Pre Professional Skills Test. According to ETS, these tests have been designed to be a “more rigorous and comprehensive series of Assessments”.
Additionally, to be licensed as an elementary or special education teacher, graduates will be required to complete the new North Carolina Foundations of Reading/General Curriculum tests . The new tests, based on the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure, have been deemed decidedly more rigorous than the existing Praxis II tests.
It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t believe in high standards and accountability for teachers and schools. Becoming a teacher should be a rigorous process, and we should be doing all we can to entice our “best and brightest” into the profession.
But in order to do that, we need to provide our teachers with the best possible teaching and learning environments, incentivize entrance and continuing education (graduate degrees and scholarship programs), and pay them like professionals. -- MM @mj_maher