New pathways for teachers, new promises for students: A vision for developing excellent teachers

US Department of Education

Article Highlights

  • Teaching 2.0 and schooling 2.0 must go hand in hand.

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  • We must build systems to recruit, prepare, place, retain, incentivize, and hold individuals and institutions accountable for results.

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  • According to NCTAF, about 1,000 teachers leave the profession every day for reasons other than retirement.

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Executive Summary

If we are serious about significantly improving academic outcomes for children in America, teaching must focus on student learning, and schools must offer teachers opportunities to teach, lead, and innovate throughout their careers. Taking pragmatic steps at each stage of the pipeline and leveraging existing resources can help us get there.

  • Recruitment: Aggressively subsidize teacher education programs that deliver results; eliminate federal policies that conflate certification with quality; increase beginning teacher salaries; improve tools to assess aspiring teacher candidates.
  • Preparation: Demand an undergraduate major in the teaching subject area for all teacher candidates; dramatically diversify approaches to teacher training; institute results-based, renewable teacher licensure.
  • Placement: Encourage “preparation to placement” pipelines; invest in district-level recruitment; place cohorts of teachers from particular training institutions in specific schools.
  • Early Retention: Encourage school systems and teacher education programs to jointly support new teachers; measure and report on which schools are or are not good places to learn and work.
  • Career Incentives: Diversify roles for exemplary teachers; base compensation on student success; provide ongoing, job-embedded training and development.
  • Accountability: Develop tools that accurately measure multiple indicators of teacher success; measure and report on the extent to which schools are organized for improvement; hold all teacher training institutions publicly accountable for graduate hiring, retention, and classroom success; give students incentives to care about their learning.


The demand to improve teacher quality is not going away. To truly transform teaching, we must also transform schooling, and all stakeholders must take unfamiliar steps to make schools better places to work and learn. This includes organized labor, which must become a self-regulating entity—ever vigilant about improving the quality of the teacher workforce—or face growing existential threats.

Timothy Knowles (tknowles@uchicago.edu) is the John Dewey Director of the University of Chicago Urban Education
Institute.

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