Senate GOP call for immediate action on teacher training

If administration doesn’t act, Republicans will re-introduce legislation in 2011
By Oregon Senate Republicans,

Salem, OR — Oregon Senate Republicans are calling for the Oregon Department of Education to immediately implement a comprehensive, statewide professional development program for Oregon teachers. On Monday, Oregon was ranked 7th from the bottom out of 40 states in a federal “Race to the Top” application for $200 million in federal aid. “Oregon could have world-class teachers, but teachers need access to the highest quality tools and training in order to produce excellent rather than average student performance,” said Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro). “The Department of Education can’t drag its feet on professional development any longer. It is a necessity, and its absence is hurting Oregon students.” In addition to landing near the bottom in the “Race to the Top,” Oregon was given a grad of “F” in a January study ranking teacher effectiveness. Oregon fails to require any link between student learning gains and teacher evaluations. Teachers also are allowed to graduate from probationary teaching to a full license without any demonstration of classroom effectiveness. Oregon fell short in the “Race to the Top” because it had little to no plans guaranteeing the effectiveness of teachers and administrators. According to one reviewer, “Oregon’s application does not describe any strategy to ensure equitable distribution of effective or highly effective teachers or principals.”

“We already have a blueprint for the changes we need,” said Starr. “If the Department of Education doesn’t act, we will force the issue in 2011. One way or another, we must ensure that teachers start getting the training they need to be successful.”

The non-partisan Chalkboard Project did a study of professional development practices in six Oregon school districts. They found that teachers uniformly call for more collaborative professional development time, better and more equitable access to quality trainers, and increased networking with neighboring districts. They also recognize that as school districts expand their investments and strive to improve quality, teachers will need better outcome measures””changes in teacher practice and student achievement””to demonstrate expected successes to parents, policymakers, and taxpayers.

Since 2007, Oregon Senate Republicans have been calling for state-wide standards in professional development courses and a network that makes courses, resources and research available to all educators in the state. Senate Republicans fought for teacher training again in 2008, attempting to make it a priority of the special session.