“It’s not a ‘report card.’ It’s a guidance policy with some teeth.”
~One individual describing a potential new teacher assignment reporting policy soon to be considered by the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB).
So what’s going on? Potential new policy would create a public data base on the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) website reporting the number of students in each school without properly endorsed teachers. At the same time, endorsements in areas such as general science might be limited to specific courses—more limited than they were previously. It is important to note that teachers would not be prohibited from teaching outside of their endorsement area, but the numbers would be publicly reported.
Targets would be set, and schools failing to meet these targets would be reported to the state legislature. Finally, no grandfather clause—these new endorsement reporting guidelines for teaching assignments would apply to all current teachers, no matter when they originally received their endorsements, and what specific courses those endorsements were valid for at the time.
Here’s the potential WAC language—it’s from the March 2014 PESB meeting documents:
Beginning September 1, 2014, the Professional Educator Standards Board shall annually make publicly available a report on the number of students in courses assigned to a teacher of record with or without a matching endorsement appropriate to that course.
No later than September 1, 2017, the Professional Educator Standards Board shall adopt performance targets related to teacher assignments match to state course codes and report annually to the House and Senate education committees of the Washington State Legislature those districts failing to meet these targets.
Without a doubt, it is important to have teachers who are well prepared to teach the courses to which they are assigned. One concern? The report of districts failing to meet these targets might not reflect a problem with the teacher workforce, or a problem with schools making poor staffing decisions. Rather, this report might reflect variables over which the school has no control–for example, the size of the school itself.
Small schools, with their small staffs, find it difficult to hire teachers with exactly the right endorsements for each course—many small schools only have one science teacher! If there are concurrent policy changes such as teachers with general science endorsements not being considered appropriately endorsed for certain advanced science courses, we are going to end up with a very large number of schools reported as “failing to meet the target.”