Here are some steps school administrators can take to improve the quality of teachers coming into their classrooms, as well as ensure that new and experienced teachers have the support necessary to continue in the profession.
Keep up-to-date on teacher preparation practices
The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF) has an online District Resource Center that provides information that can be used by anyone interested in improving teaching at the district level. These resources include NCTAF's district teaching policy inventory, an article on promising district induction programs, and links to a range of Web sites that provide information on improving teaching in local school districts.
Start a professional development school
Throughout the country, colleges of education are collaborating with their local public schools to create laboratories for the preparation and continuing professional development of teachers, administrators, and other school support personnel. Professional development schools allow a meshing of the theory and psychology of learning taught by university professors and the daily practicalities of teaching that include how to design lesson plans and classroom management.
Cultivate experienced teachers interested in working with teacher candidates and beginning teachers, provide them with mentoring training, and then match them with beginning teachers. As noted in the NCTAF's article, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future," research shows that beginning teachers working under the guidance of a trained mentor are much more likely to remain in the profession and to move beyond classroom management issues and focus their time and attention on student learning.
Create incentives for teachers to stay in the field
Ongoing, meaningful professional development opportunities and salary increases that bring teacher pay scales on a par with those of other professionals provide beginning and experienced teachers alike with the support and assistance necessary to stay in the field.
Redesign and streamline hiring and recruitment
Decentralized hiring, innovative use of the Internet to announce openings and recruit new educators, and the early hiring of new teachers have all been identified as important steps toward recruiting and maintaining the most highly trained teaching staff. Teacher Recruitment is the subject of the August-September 2000 issue of The Education Commission of the States newsletter, "The Progress of Education Reform," and includes links to many effective teacher recruitment programs throughout the United States.
Work with local colleges of education to recruit teachers from underrepresented groups and nontraditional career paths
Colleges of education cannot begin to fill the nationwide need for well-trained teachers -- or teachers who represent the diverse group of students filling today's classrooms. One exemplary program whose mission is to recruit paraprofessionals (particularly minority and male applicants) in K-12 schools to become fully certificated teachers is The Pathways to Teaching Careers Program, established by the DeWitt Wallace-Readers Digest Funds in 1989.
The Educational Testing Service. ETS offers a multi-faceted course for schools interested in beginning a mentor teacher program.
Essential Conditions for Teacher Preparation. In an easy-to-read chart and text format, the International Society for Technology in Education lays out what education personnel -- from teacher-educators to local school administrators -- need to do to promote teacher preparation in technology.
"Promising Practices: New Ways to Improve Teacher Quality." This U.S. Department of Education report describes promising policies and practices in the teaching profession. Topics addressed include recruiting talented and diverse people into the teaching profession, improving teacher preparation, providing professional support to beginning teachers, and improving teacher accountability and incentives.