DEFINING, ASSESSING AND IMPROVING TEACHER QUALITY IN THE USA
The article deals with effective strategies of assessing and improving teacher quality in the USA. At the beginning of the article definitions of teacher quality are provided. Thus, the characteristics of “highly qualified teacher” are: having a bachelor’s degree, being licensed by the state, demonstrating subject matter competence, while the characteristics of “exemplary” teachers are: recognition of administration and colleagues, contribution to professional development of other teachers, developing curricula, creating learning environment which enhances students’ achievements. It is highlighted that there is a tendency fоr developing teachers’ standards based on students’ outcomes. Mentoring, continual professional development, observing and evaluating teaching performance are considered to be vital prerequisites of teacher quality. The article introduces detailed analysis of reasons for low status of teachers in the USA: the ones connected with normal schools evolvement into universities, with the position of teachers in society and the nature of teaching profession itself. The best strategies of assessing and improving teacher quality are identified: large-scale surveys, classroom observation, written examinations of teachers, student performance and achievement. It is stated that in order to meet the requirements of accountability, the emphasis is put on the continuous assessment which allows revision and improvement of academic university programs. University faculty members, internal and external experts are central in defining and assessing teacher quality. Much attention is paid to licensure as a prerequisite to teacher quality assurance, as well as to developing performance-based tests like Praxis III. Raising entry standards, reducing licensure differences between states, inclusion of clinical experience as a condition of program approval and teacher licensure are necessary for improving teacher quality in the USA. Prospects of further investigation are peculiarities of the Praxis assessment and its impact on teacher quality.
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