Teacher training to get upgrade


A redesign in the works of how Minnesota evaluates teacher preparation programs could shed light on the link between teacher preparation and student outcome.

On Jan. 11, Board of Teaching Executive Director Karen Balmer took the House Education Reform Committee through a fast-paced, but thorough, overview of current standards, practices and new initiatives related to teacher licensure, certification and license renewal.

Committee Chairwoman Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) and committee members have said that improving teacher effectiveness is a priority this session.

Eleven members appointed by the governor sit on the Board of Teaching. By statute, a majority are teachers. Balmer said the board’s ongoing challenge is to meld high standards for teacher accountability with flexibility to meet districts’ needs, particularly in shortage areas.

John Melick, director of educator licensing for the Department of Education, said shortage areas include math; some sciences, such as physics and chemistry; bilingual elementary education; world languages; dance; theater; and several special education categories.

Balmer said the new initiative, Program Effectiveness Reports for Continuing Approval (PERCA), will soon be field-tested and should launch in about a year. It will use more data collection and performance measurement to assess the performance of first-year teachers who graduated from certain four-year education programs. Teachers’ results would be compared with their teacher training program to measure the program’s effectiveness.

“We are starting to see research that does show predictive value,” Balmer said. “A teacher that does perform well on this performs well in the classroom.”

One PERCA component is evaluation of teachers’ work in multiple ways. An independent reviewer will assess a teacher’s lesson planning, instruction and student work, and see a videotape of the teacher in the classroom.

Of the state’s 56,000 licensed teachers, Melick said 99.74 percent are in compliance with licensing requirements, with 96.71 percent fully certified; 3.03 percent holding one of several types of limited or temporary license; and 0.24 percent with an expired license or no license or permission to teach.