More California teachers have got credentials

Tribune file photo by Mike Lucia

Credentials don’t tell you all that much about a teacher’s effectiveness, but experts from the Santa Cruz-based Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning say teachers who have them are more likely to come to the classroom prepared. 

In 2000-01, public schools in Alameda County had 1,704 teachers without a preliminary or a clear teaching credential; by 2008-09, that number dropped to 662, according to an analysis released today by the center.

Note: The report does not count intern teachers — those who go straight to the classroom without much teacher training and simultaneously earn their preliminary credential (at night) — as “fully prepared,” though they are considered “highly qualified” under No Child Left Behind.

You can read a summary of the report below:

(Sacramento) California has made steady and significant progress in reducing the number of underprepared teachers in the state’s schools, according to a new research analysis commissioned by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning and conducted by SRI International.

The new analysis, part of a larger report due out in December, shows a continuing decline in the number of underprepared teachers in California. From a high of 42,427 in 2000-2001, the number of underprepared teachers fell to just over 15,000 by 2007-08. The new analysis finds that trend continuing, with numbers falling to 10,855 for the 2008-09 school year.

“These gains go a long way toward providing every child with a fully prepared teacher,” said Margaret Gaston, president of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. “California’s policymakers have shown that informed and thoughtful education policy can make a real difference in our teaching workforce, but in order to ensure all students benefit, they must stay the course.”

Importantly, nine of ten counties with the largest number of underprepared teachers in 2007-08 have made significant progress in reducing the underprepared teachers in their workforce. For example, Los Angeles County has seen the number of underprepared teachers shrink from 20,541 in 2000-01 to 3,136 in 2008-09.

These gains are also evident in some of the state’s school districts that, historically, have faced the greatest challenges in attracting fully prepared teachers. For example, in 2000-01, less than half—44.6 percent―of the teachers in the Ravenswood School District in San Mateo County were fully prepared. In 2008-09, 89.7 percent of teachers in Ravenswood were fully prepared.

“California policymakers have proven they can make a difference in strengthening the teacher workforce, even in school districts that face the greatest needs,” concluded Gaston. “As they confront difficult budgetary and educational challenges, we would urge them to stay focused on ensuring an adequate pool of fully prepared and effective teachers who are willing to go where they are needed most.”

Editor’s note: The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning defines an underprepared teacher as any individual who has not completed a teacher preparation program and attained a preliminary or professional clear credential.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.