Report: Maryland’s Teacher Recertification Process Should Be Reformed

Maryland spends up to $ 1 billion annually on teacher professional development, but there is little to no data showing that teachers are improving in classrooms through such programs, according to a recent report.

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Maryland spends up to $ 1 billion annually on teacher professional development, but there is little to no data showing that teachers are improving in classrooms through such programs, according to a recent report.

Teachers in Maryland public schools must renew their teaching license every five years, which involves three years of satisfactory annual assessments and a certain number of hours of professional development opportunities and state-approved courses. in colleges and universities.

But the effectiveness of teacher recertification requirements is ambiguous, according to the Abell Foundation’s “Reconsidering Teacher Recertification in Maryland” report. And with the amount of public dollars invested in teacher accreditation and professional development, it’s important to ensure that these efforts are meaningful, wrote Mark Procopio, author of the report.

A “continuing professional development” (CPD) credit, which can include classes, workshops, lectures or peer coaching, costs between $ 30 and $ 249 an hour, according to the report. This year, Baltimore City Public Schools allocated $ 2.1 million for tuition reimbursement, according to its budget.

The Commission on Innovation and Excellence 2019 interim report found that local school districts in Maryland directly spend $ 52.8 million per year on professional development, only some of which count towards teacher certification.

Yet “there is no attempt to link this data to the demonstrated growth in teacher practice, quality programs or where lifelong learning can impact teacher practice or outcomes. students, ”Procopio wrote.

In the absence of data demonstrating that professional development programs and courses contribute to the growth of teaching and student outcomes, the state should not require teachers to take them to renew their licenses, a writes Procopio.

The Maryland State Department of Education did not respond to questions asking whether the state collects data on the effectiveness of teachers’ recertification requirements and how much they spent on recertification programs.

MSDE is currently updating teacher certification regulations to require educators and their supervisors to work together to develop an individualized professional development plan, said Lora Rakowski, spokesperson for MSDE.

The draft regulations also expand the means by which a teacher can earn recertification credit, giving local school systems more flexibility in determining which experiences are most meaningful to a particular teacher, she continued.

Procopio interviewed a dozen people in Maryland with experience in classroom preparation and teacher and alternative teacher certification programs for his report, according to Sarah Manekin, director of research and publications for the Abell Foundation.

However, Cheryl Bost, an elementary school teacher in Baltimore County and president of the Maryland State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, said the courses she took to meet her recertification requirements made her a better teacher.

For example, when her school was not doing well at reading, Bost said she signed up for a class on New Ways of Teaching Vocabulary and implemented what she learned into her daily teaching. .

“I looked at my possible deficits as an educator and my students, and that’s how I chose to make my professional development plan and decide which courses I wanted to take. [for recertification], Says Bost. “I think a lot of educators do this. It is very autonomous.

“The recertification process is very complex, so statements like ‘good or bad’ are general statements,” Bost continued.

David Steiner, executive director of the Institute for Education Policy at Johns Hopkins University and a former member of the Maryland State Board of Education, agreed that there is currently no strong evidence that professional development programs approved by the ‘State are effective, and that’s a problem.

“We have no quality assurance that this money is really well spent,” he said. “We have no measure to tell the taxpayer: if you participate in this kind of work at this university or if you take these workshops, you will, therefore, become a more effective teacher – we simply have no way to. say that, ”he said.

“It’s hard to think of any other profession that spends so much money with no noticeable result,” Steiner continued.

One way to compare different professional development programs in terms of impact is for a principal or group of teachers to register educators and place them in specific professional development programs based on their assessment of the registration. Then they could check in the educator after taking the course and compare their performance from before, Steiner said. Certification of the National Council depends on video recordings, he said.

“Even in a five-minute period, you can tell so much about what a teacher does well, what is difficult, what doesn’t – it’s a very effective way to capture practice,” he said. -he declares. However, he said he doubted MSDE would have the time or the capacity to collect data at that level.

But the national education department could challenge professional development providers to show how they will assess the impact of their programs. “So far we’ve barely asked,” he says.

This is an ongoing problem in education across the country, Steiner said. In 2015, a New Teacher Project report found no evidence that professional development consistently helps teachers improve in classrooms.

The Kirwan Commission, a multi-year initiative to reform Maryland’s public education system, recommended raising “the standards and status of the teaching profession, including a performance-based career ladder and salaries comparable to those other fields with similar educational requirements ”.

The landmark education reform bill called the Blueprint for the Future of Maryland is the result of the commission’s findings and was enacted this year after the General Assembly overturned Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.

The report recommends the implementation of the blueprint, which includes a career ladder that aims to provide salary levels that help attract and retain teachers. It offers “job-integrated professional development”, which depends on the daily practice of teaching. It’s a type of professional development that educators value the most, according to the Abell report.

National board certification is rewarded in the blueprint, but is not required for career advancement. In addition, all principals must be trained in “racial awareness and cultural skills” and teacher training programs must include “cultural competencies” for students of various racial and ethnic backgrounds, in accordance with the legislation.

One problem with the current recertification program is the understaffing. Support for teachers navigating the process often depends on how well a district’s certification office is staffed, Procopio wrote.

Without support, teachers rely on informal networks to choose their professional development programs. “In such a confusing environment, it’s no surprise that convenience and price end up strongly influencing the decisions teachers make about their learning options for recertification,” he wrote.

In recent years, some teachers in the City of Baltimore have experienced delays in their recertification applications and, at times, have not received answers to questions about the recertification process.

It took four months for Melissa McDonald, a grade 9 English teacher in Baltimore City, to get her recertification approved after filing the necessary paperwork. She said she was unable to get a response from the certification specialist as to why her application was denied.

In December, the Baltimore Teachers Union petitioned the Baltimore City Public Schools Human Capital Office to demand responses from the certification specialist within 10 days. But some teachers wait even longer than that, McDonald said.

“There are very few indications [on the teacher recertification process], period. They should just have a tutorial where they’re like, “ This is what certification is, and this is what you need to do, and this is what you can do, and this is how you get things approved ” – I mean it could be really easy. It doesn’t make sense that it isn’t easy, ”said McDonald.

Each year, Baltimore City Public Schools update up to 2,000 certifications, but there is only one Certification Analyst, responsible for issuing and processing all types of Maryland certificates, according to Gwendolyn Chambers, spokesperson for BCPS. The school system recently hired two additional staff who will be able to process certain certificates, she continued.

Another staff member exclusively supports teachers with conditional certificates (new teachers with temporary teaching licenses), Chambers continued.

McDonald said she felt some of her professional development courses did not help her become a better teacher. What would be effective is to watch other educators practice a new way of teaching and then try to implement it on their own, she said. But McDonald said she hadn’t seen anything like the one offered that would count toward recertification credit.

“I was able to co-teach once in a classroom with an experienced teacher, and I learned so much more than I ever did in a classroom, so I think the whole system is weirdly put in. up, ”McDonald said.

Ultimately, it’s important to have a process that ensures teachers continue to learn to become better educators, Steiner said. “We absolutely need another opportunity to work with teachers to improve their profession. Once they start teaching, it shouldn’t be ‘once and you are done’, ”he said. But unproven siege time is not the way to do it, he said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the amount of money provided by Baltimore City Public Schools for tuition reimbursement. The exact figure is $ 2.1 million.


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