Fall 2016

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26 ATPE NEWS particular assessment was too much. If you're using assess- ments to help improve how we educate kids, that's extremely valuable. A lot of it just depends on the context and how it's used to improve outcomes for kids. ATPE: THERE'S BEEN AN ATTEMPT TO GIVE DISTRICTS AND STATES A LITTLE MORE FLEXIBILITY AROUND TESTING AND TO ALLOW FOR SOME INNOVATIVE PILOT PROJECTS. IS THERE ANYTHING THAT MIGHT HAPPEN ALONG THOSE LINES IN TEXAS? Morath: It's possible. We're looking at the recommendations that come from the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability as well as our marching or- ders from the legislature. To the extent that folks are interest- ed in some sort of innovation under assessment, then we'll go in that direction. ATPE: WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE FOR EDUCATOR PREPARATION AND CERTIFICATION? Morath: Teaching is one of the most complicated professions. Think about the process that a neurosurgeon goes through. A neurosurgeon is responsible for one brain that is asleep, and a teacher is responsible for 30 brains that are awake. You have to have the same kind of depth of knowledge of the craft. You have to have deep content knowledge if you're interested in ensuring that students are reading at an appropriate level. You have to know everything there is to know about litera- cy and language, but you also have to know the research on brain development and how language acquisition works. This is an incredibly demanding profession, and what strikes me as necessary to prepare people for that task, first and foremost, is a high level of core content knowledge in the academic area that you're interested in teaching. Think about what happens after medical school. You go through this intense four-year training process to develop deep content knowledge, but after you pass your boards, you're not crack- ing open skulls. You have to go through a long-term process of preparing the tools of the trade. Once you've received deep content mastery, you need to have pret- ty intense vocational training to practice applying issues related to classroom management and the planning of a se- quence of conversations with students so that lessons impart the maximum amount of impact. I'd love to see that sort of very aggressive residency em- bedded in teacher preparation as much as possible, so that when folks walk into the classroom and they are the teacher of record for the first time, the number of surprises they're presented with is minimized. ATPE: DO YOU THINK THIS LEVEL OF PROFESSIONALISM AND SUPPORT IS NEEDED TO KEEP TEACHERS IN THE CLASSROOM AND ADEQUATELY PREPARE THEM FOR A CAREER? Morath: It's necessary but not sufficient. If you walk in and your first day followed by your first year is a nonstop sea of emotion and problems, it's going to leave a bad taste in your mouth for the profession permanently. So clearly we have to address that. But does that actually keep people in the profes- sion long term? I don't know. I think compensation is part of it. And there's the working conditions that you're in. Are you supported in a school to engage in the pursuit of mastery? You have doctors that publish and conduct research. They have a deep level of expertise because they end up becoming a master in one part of their craft. This is necessary as well for teachers. It's human nature. You want to be empowered, to walk tall and stand tall in your field. So I think we need to address a variety of things simultaneously—preparation, continuous improvement, tools, empowerment to pursue mastery, compensation. ATPE: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO TO RAISE THE PRESTIGE AND THE PERCEPTION OF THE VALUE OF THE EDUCATION PROFESSION? Morath: I don't think there's one answer to that, but there are a few answers that we have good reason to believe are relevant. One thing is entrance requirements. Think about what psychology tells us about satisfaction, prestige, and rec- ognition. The harder we make the entrance requirements, the more people we attract to the profession, the more prestige the profession gets. A lot of people are afraid that if we do that, it will lead to a teacher shortage, but we have really sol- id evidence to believe that the opposite will actually happen. Another piece is compensation. You can say a lot of things about American culture for good and ill, but one thing we do Commissioner Morath with Elaine Acker, ATPE's marketing and communications director (left), and Jennifer Canaday, ATPE's governmental relations director.

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