Research reveals that teachers, principals, and other school leaders are the most important school-based influences on student learning, and every student, regardless of race, ethnicity, disability status, income, or zip code, deserves to be taught and led by excellent teachers and school leaders. However, data show that students in many high-need schools do not have access to great educators. For example, the Civil Rights Data Collection, performed by the U.S. Department of Education, show that Black and Latino students are two to four times more likely than white students to attend a school where 20 percent or more of teachers do not have a state licensure or certification. Significantly, the 2014-2015 school year is the first year that public schools in America are majority-minority.

Recognizing this disparity, today the Coalition for Teaching Quality (CTQ), of which First Focus is a co-chair, released “Excellent Educators for Each and Every Child: A policy roadmap for transforming the teaching and principal professions.” The Coalition also held House and Senate briefings on Capitol Hill with practitioners to help explain the importance of these strategies to policymakers. In the Policy Roadmap, CTQ—which comprises more than one hundred civil rights, disability, rural, youth, higher education, principal and education advocacy organizations dedicated to ensuring that every child has fully prepared and effective educators—offers a continuum of the teaching and principal professions to ensure every child has well-prepared and effective educators.

In the policy roadmap, the coalition outlines several measures to build a continuum that supports educator excellence: strengthen the recruitment pipeline for teachers and principals; build robust preparation programs that ensure that all educators are profession-ready; and cultivate opportunities for continuous growth and leadership. This comprehensive vision is an alternative to teacher tenure lawsuits. Instead of a cudgel designed only to take away job protections, this alternative vision strengthens and invests in teachers and principals to ensure that their leadership, knowledge, skills, and expertise are leveraged to improve outcomes for every child and to prepare students to meet the demands of society and a global economy. In supporting educator excellence, these strategies will improve educational conditions for children.

CTQ also released “Profession Ready Teachers and Principals for Each and Every Child,” the first in a series of deep dives into pieces of the policy roadmap. This report describes four steps for future teachers to ensure that they are fully prepared when they enter the classroom as a teacher of record, including participating in extensive clinical experiences and demonstrating their skills and knowledge through a performance assessment.

For principals, profession-ready means having a strong instructional background as a teacher, demonstrated abilities related to effective school leadership competencies and prior success in leading adults. As such, profession-ready principals should earn an advanced degree and demonstrate a record of success as a teacher, complete a one-year residency program under accomplished school leaders, and successfully demonstrate leadership competencies through assessments prior to and upon completion of their preparation and residency experiences.

For children, having teachers and principals who are profession-ready the day they begin their careers means the professionals, who are the largest school-based factor in student achievement, are fully prepared and fully trained. It means they have teachers who are well versed in teaching pedagogy and are subject matter experts so teachers, students, principals, and the rest of the school hit the ground running and learning on day one.

Every child, regardless of race, ethnicity, disability status, income, or zip code, deserves great teachers and principals. With the release of these documents the CTQ has laid out a vision of support, continuous learning, and professional growth to achieve this lofty goal.