My new favorite education researcher is Jal Mehta (see an earlier post linking to an opinion piece he wrote for the New York Times).
In this article from Phi Delta Kappan, Mehta and co-author Joe Doctor (who is a PhD candidate at Harvard, meaning he is the future Dr. Doctor…) propose an overhaul of the teacher training system in America based around a rigorous exam for entry and licensure. Nothing new in principle— these ideas have been around for a while— but their proposal is pretty detailed and worth the read.
Essentially, they are advocating for a process not unlike what medical doctors go through before they can fully practice. Teachers would take an initial exam to ensure they have mastered basic core knowledge, then they would have a one-year site-based clinical practice during which they would be supervised by a master teacher. After that would-be teachers would transition into an apprentice-type role (like a residency), during which they would be responsible for certain teaching tasks in a school while under the close supervision of a master teacher.
After these three years, there would be a final board exam to certify the candidate as a fully licensed professional. They could then pursue advanced or specialized certification through advanced degrees or other programs.
The authors predict many potential positive outcomes, some more far-fetched than others, admittedly, but worth thinking about: “A rigorous board exam for teachers could change who is attracted to the profession, develop a more consistent and higher level of skills among teachers, improve student outcomes, and greatly increase public regard for teachers and teaching.”