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Teacher Certification Proposal Deserves More Than Conjecture
By Carl Rose


March 14, 2005

Webster's defines conjecture as a conclusion deduced from surmise and guess work. It's my guess that if Alaskans move beyond conjecture about the state's proposed teacher certification regulations, they will see tiered licensure as another tool to help put quality teachers in the classroom.

As Kati Haycock of The Education Trust and many other researchers tell us, the teacher "is the single most important factor in whether young people learn or whether they don't...The most effective teachers are producing not just a little more growth, but as many as six times the learning gains produced by least effective teachers," Haycock reported in 2001.

When weighed against the consequences of inaction, the certification proposal designed by EED offers many opportunities, including:

  • For school boards, the chance to put the focus on practices and policies which promote the success of teachers and instruction.
  • For superintendents, a clear statement that quality instruction is a top priority of your administration.
  • For principals, a chance to be educational mentors.
  • For teachers, a system aligned to focus on your success and that of your students.
  • For parents, greater assurance that their children's teachers are prepared to offer an optimum learning opportunity.
  • For students, a better chance of having classes that are planned and prepared to introduce subject matter in an interesting, relevant and engaging fashion.

That may seem like a lot to promise from a system that would have all new teachers to Alaska undergo a performance review by a panel of EED experts. But when combined with the state's teacher mentoring program, the tiered licensure proposal clearly holds much promise for improving the quality of instruction in Alaska's schools.

Across America, the challenge of meeting the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is bumping up against a diverse population of different cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, limited English proficiency and disabilities.

But we know that the quality of the teacher in the classroom can make the biggest difference in improving the performance of all students. That's why the requirement for highly qualified teachers is in the federal law and the deadline for compliance is fast approaching.

We in Alaska have the opportunity and latitude to move forward intentionally to create an improved learning environment for our students.

I encourage all Alaskans to examine the research, the facts, the process and make your views known. We cannot afford to leave the critical issues of quality instruction and student success to conjecture.


Carl Rose is executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, a statewide non-profit organization whose members include 52 of the state's 53 school districts.



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