The 2012 State Teacher Policy Yearbook gave Alabama a grade of “B-“ in its teacher preparation policy work, raising it from a “C” in 2011. The report is published annually by the National Council on Teacher Quality to highlight progress made in each state, and to bring attention to areas still needing improvements.
“We are pleased that NCTQ recognized the progress we have been able to make because of the rigorous standards adopted by the Alabama State Board of Education,” said Dr. Jayne Meyer, Director of Teacher Certification for the Alabama State Dept. of Education.
“As we implement Plan 2020 – particularly the objective of having every child ‘taught by a well-prepared, resourced, supported, and effective teacher,’ – we know that we will be able to rely on our partners, particularly our higher education colleagues who prepare teachers and other personnel for P-12 schools,” Meyer said.
Specific areas where Alabama showed improvement through its policy work were in the admission into preparation programs, elementary teacher preparation (overall and specifically in mathematics), and assessing professional knowledge.
Regarding the elementary teacher preparation, the report cites the new state requirement that all elementary teachers pass the Praxis II Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects test, which also contains a separate math subsection.
Prior to admission into teacher preparation programs, Alabama now requires teachers to pass a three-part basic skills test. The state also requires all teachers to pass a Praxis II pedagogy test as a condition of licensure.
These new rules, which became effective September 1, 2012, resulted in NCTQ boosting the state’s overall grade, while also outlining areas in need of further attention.
Alabama was one of only four states that received the highest grade of “B-“ along with Indiana, Florida and Tennessee. No other state received a higher grade, and Alabama is among only 13 states that showed improvement, according to the NCTQ report.
Areas identified in the report as needing “critical attention” include:
• Admission requirements into teacher preparation programs – “Alabama does not ensure that teacher preparation programs admit candidates with strong academic records.”
• Student Teaching – “Alabama does not ensure that teacher preparation programs will provide teacher candidates with a high-quality summative clinical experience.”
Some areas highlighted that could use more improvements are ensuring that new elementary teachers are ready to teach to the Common Core State Standards, ensuring that new secondary teachers are prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content, ensuring that new special education teachers know the subject matter they will be required to teach, and holding its programs accountable for the effectiveness of the teachers they produce.
Alabama is in the process of implementing the College and Career Ready Standards, based on the Common Core State Standards, and it has been preparing teachers for this over the last several years.
Beyond this, Alabama could improve its teacher and educational leader talent pipeline by developing a strong recruitment process to fill education careers and improving the process of training teacher candidates with hands-on practice in the classroom.
However, the report states that “Alabama is on track to ensure that new middle school teachers will be prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content,” and it commends the state for requiring K-8 teachers to pass the Praxis II single-subject content test to attain a license.
Next steps are outlined in the report to help guide Alabama to continued improvement in preparing high-quality teachers, particularly in areas of assessments and delivery of more comprehensive programs of study for aspiring teachers.