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State Group Releases Final Teaching Standards

The Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, a body of educators, teacher-educators, and state officials organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers here in Washington, has just finalized a revision of the Model Core Teaching Standards.

In the past, this influential set of standards has formed the basis of many states' professional teaching standards, and in some cases to guide teacher education program approval decision.

The InTASC group released a draft of the updated standards for public comment last summer and has been hard at work incorporating feedback from the field in the meantime.

Originally crafted in the early 1990s for beginning teachers, the revised version is meant to serve as a guide for teachers at all stages of their career. It delineates 10 areas of focus, detailing for each area the knowledge teachers should have, the performances they should demonstrate, and the "critical dispositions" that should guide their teaching philosophy.

In comparison with the draft standards, certain sections in the final version have been tightened up somewhat (especially for the dispositions) and others expanded a bit, but most of the changes seem aimed at making the standards as clear as possible.

There don't appear to be any major changes in emphasis between the draft and final versions. There is perhaps a bit more attention to teacher knowledge of grade-level academic-content standards. Since the document is supposed to work in tandem with the Common Core Standards Initiative, that's not too much of a surprise. The standards for leadership and collaboration are also more detailed.

As always, the question about all this work has to do with what changes they'll produce in the quality of teaching and learning. Will there be a more concerted effort on behalf of states to measure teacher progress against these standards? Will they align to all the teacher-evaluation work out already under way? Can "critical dispositions" be accurately measured, something that's proved challenging in the past?

I'm thinking, in part, of my colleague Catherine Gewertz' recent blog item, in which she reported that some textbook publishers are already pitching their materials as "common core" aligned. There is probably a parallel to be had with the InTASC standards. Let's hope that they will get states and teacher-preparation programs and districts thinking about where they are falling short, rather than becoming part of the "oh, we do that already" file.

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