The quality of the teacher in the classroom is perhaps the most important factor in increasing student learning. Studies show that students who have several strong teachers in a row will thrive no matter what their family background. Conversely, students who have just three consecutive weak teachers will perform poorly. Indiana must do more to ensure that every student has a highly qualified and effective teacher.
Indiana is fortunate to have an experienced teaching force. More than 60 percent of the state’s teachers have been in the classroom for 10 years or more. While this experience is valued, 21st century demands of teachers require more critical ability to manage the process of accessing and teaching students in more personalized ways. Teachers must be able to differentiate instruction for all learners in their classrooms.
Continuing to improve the preparation of new teachers is extremely important. Approximately 3,000 new teachers enter Indiana classrooms every year. Indiana colleges and universities prepare a significant majority of these teachers in 40 accredited teacher preparation programs across the state.
Although the state produces a steady stream of new teachers, Indiana schools continue to experience a shortage of qualified teachers in specific content areas and specific schools. Special education constitutes over 80 percent of the shortage, followed by shortages in mathematics and science. Consistent with national trends, the percentage of teachers without full certification is highest in high-poverty districts in the state.
Indiana has made progress in improving teacher licensure. Rules for teacher licensure and renewal are aligned with the state’s academic standards and school improvement plans. Indiana ranks among the top states whose teachers are fully licensed and not teaching on waivers and has been nationally recognized for the high percentage of core academic classes taught by teachers who are fully licensed in the areas in which they are teaching.
Next Steps to Improve Student Achievement:
Ensure that every student has a highly qualified and effective teacher.
- Promote teaching as a profession that is valued and expand efforts to recruit high quality candidates into teaching.
- Implement targeted recruitment strategies to attract African American and Latino candidates.
- Adopt targeted strategies to increase the number of highly qualified teachers in high-poverty and hard-to-staff schools.
- Review the quality, availability, enrollment, and success of university Transition to Teaching Programs, giving particular attention to the state’s shortage of qualified special education, mathematics, and science teachers.
- Preparation, Licensure, Compensation, and Retention:
- Strengthen teacher preparation and licensure through greater integration of subject matter knowledge and instructional expertise.
- Ensure that all new teachers have training in effective classroom assessment practices, analysis of student performance data, recognition of exceptional learners, and modification of curriculum and instruction to meet differentiated student needs.
- Ensure that all elementary and middle school teachers are skilled in teaching reading and reading comprehension.
- Ensure that teachers have technology skills that enable them to be more effective.
- Ensure teachers understand the importance of parents as partners in student learning and are provided with techniques for effective parent communication and engagement.
- Ensure that special education teachers are well prepared to teach the content areas.
- Ensure that Indiana’s standards for teacher licensure effectively provide the subject matter knowledge and instructional expertise that fully prepare teachers to teach Indiana students to learn and achieve Indiana’s academic standards.
- Ensure alignment of compensation system with teacher relicensure requirements and place additional emphasis on quality professional development.
- Implement strategies to retain high quality teachers.
- Professional Development:
- Provide teachers with professional development and time to align curriculum, instruction and assessment and to coordinate instructional plans and strategies with other professional and paraprofessional staff to assist students in meeting academic standards.
- Provide teachers with computer/technology tools and training to bring about increased student achievement. Enable teachers to use technology to improve communication with parents and to increase interaction with other teachers for the exchange of best practices and resources.
- Provide current middle and high school teachers with targeted resources and professional development to support high quality instruction in Core 40 courses.
- Provide teachers with professional development for successfully involving parents and families as partners supporting student academic achievement.
- Ensure professional development funding and practices are deliberate, effective, aligned with Indiana’s academic standards and school improvement plans, and consistent with the State Board’s standards for professional development.
- Make research on scientifically sound instructional practices available to classroom teachers, school leaders, and teacher preparation faculty.