Introduction to the Standards
This document sets forth standards for professional teaching practice in California. The standards were developed to facilitate the induction of beginning teachers into their professional roles and responsibilities by providing a common language and a new vision of the scope and complexity of teaching. The standards are not set forth as regulations to control the specific actions of teachers, but rather to guide teachers as they define and develop their practice.
Since 1988, California has sought to provide intensive learning experiences for beginning teachers. Work on a descriptive framework of teaching was initiated for use in the California New Teacher Project (CNTP). The framework was refined and revised based on the experience of local educators who have designed, operated, and evaluated Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) Programs since 1992. The standards reflect the experience of the California Department of Education, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and BTSA program participants in developing and implementing more than 30 local programs.
A companion set of standards, the Standards of Quality and Effectiveness for Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Programs
, has also been developed to guide the design, implementation, and operation of programs to facilitate the induction of beginning teachers.
Organization of the Standards
The standards are organized around six interrelated categories of teaching practice. The six standards are:
- Engaging and Supporting All Students in Learning
- Creating and Maintaining Effective Environments for Student Learning
- Understanding and Organizing Subject Matter for Student Learning
- Planning Instruction and Designing Learning Experiences for All Students
- Assessing Student Learning
- Developing as a Professional Educator
Together these six standards represent a developmental, holistic view of teaching, and are intended to meet the needs of diverse teachers and students in California.
In this document, each standard is introduced in a narrative description of best practice that portrays an accomplished level of professional teaching. Following the narrative description, each standard is organized in elements that identify key areas within that domain of teaching. Each element is further specified with questions that encourage teachers to explore aspects of teaching practice throughout their careers. In order to foster ongoing reflection and insights into teaching, the questions are introduced with the stem, "How do I . . ." The questions can also be phrased as "Why do I . . ," which encourages teachers to examine the rationale for key aspects of their teaching.
Within each element, the questions address only a sample of the important facets of teaching. They do not represent all the possible issues or aspects of teaching. Therefore, the questions should not be used as checklists, but rather as probing issues to promote reflection and professional development throughout one's career.
Teachers using the standards will recognize that there are some overlaps between and among the standards, elements, and questions. These overlaps are intended to underscore the holistic view that emphasizes the interrelationships and complexities of teaching. For example, valuing and drawing on student back-grounds and experiences are integral aspects of all six standards.
The standards are presented in two ways: a linear text version and a graphic version. In the linear version, each standard statement is followed by key elements and associated questions. In the graphic version, a summary page contains the descriptive statements for each of the six standards, as well as a definition and statement of potential uses for the entire set. The summary page is followed by individual pages for each standard that present the components described above.
Purposes and Uses of the Teaching Standards
First-year and second-year teachers continue to develop through intensive learning activities that build on their pre-service preparation and lead to lifelong professional development. The California Standards for the Teaching Profession
were de-developed to address this development, and are designed to be used by teachers to:
- prompt reflection about student learning and teaching practice;
- formulate professional goals to improve teaching practice; and
- guide, monitor, and assess the progress of a teacher's practice toward professional goals and professionally-accepted benchmarks.
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the California Department of Education are pursuing ways to make the standards as valuable and useful as possible for teachers. The two agencies have sponsored the preparation of Developmental Scales that will make it possible for teachers to obtain accurate, reliable information about their developmental levels in relation to each standard.
The Department and the Commission are also using the standards to guide the design of an Integrated Formative Assessment System that will support teachers' professional growth during the "induction period" and throughout the teaching career. The Integrated Formative Assessment System will be built from performance-based assessments such as portfolios and observations that are currently being piloted in Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Programs. Once the Developmental Scales and Integrated Formative Assessment System are completed, teachers will, in their pursuit of excellence in teaching practice and student learning, be able to derive maximum benefit from the California Standards for the Teaching Profession..
Foundations for the Standards
The California Standards for the Teaching Profession
are based on current research and expert advice pertaining to best teaching practice. The standards address the diversity of students and teachers in California schools today, and reflect a holistic, developmental view of
Context of Teaching in California
Professional educators in the State of California are serving the most diverse population of students in the history of education. This diversity among students can greatly enrich and enliven the educational experience. There is a critical need for teachers who are responsive to the diverse cultural, racial, religious, ethnic, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds of all students. The California Standards for the Teaching Profession
support the creation of inclusive classrooms in which diverse students with varying learning styles and abilities are engaged and challenged as learners. The standards reflect an expectation that the education of diverse students is likely to be most productive when teachers use effective pedagogical principles and practices in all subject areas.
The standards also value the diversity of teachers' backgrounds, perspectives, skills, knowledge, and practices. Teaching is not a profession in which a single approach to professional practice will be effective for all practitioners. Although the standards articulate a common vision of excellence in teaching, different teachers have different ways to fulfill the standards effectively. By respecting the diverse ways in which teachers pursue excellence in professional practice, schools enrich and enhance the education of diverse students.
A Holistic Vision of Teaching
A holistic view of teaching recognizes that teaching and learning include complex processes that are interdependent, occur in a variety of contexts, and are affected by many factors that are intrinsic and external to the classroom. A vision of teaching in California must therefore emphasize relationships among the multiple aspects of teaching and learning. A teacher's understandings of students, of subject matter and curriculum, and of instructional methods, strategies and styles are ultimately linked to how the teacher plans instruction and creates and assesses opportunities for student learning.
Teaching is more than methodology. Philosophical and theoretical understandings of teaching and learning empower teachers to make thoughtful, informed decisions about instructional strategies and ways to support students' learning. A teacher's practice cannot be viewed or evaluated separately from her or his professional ideas and understandings; all aspects of teaching are interdependent. The standards are broad and interconnected with each other because the professional practice of teaching needs to be seen comprehensively as a complex, dynamic process in which practical and conceptual elements are woven together as a seamless fabric.
A Developmental View of Teaching
Teachers' knowledge, skills and practices develop throughout their professional careers. The nature of teaching requires continuous growth in order to engage and challenge increasingly diverse students in a rapidly changing world. Teachers are never "finished" as professional learners, no matter how extensive or excellent their formal education and preparation. If teachers' expertise, capabilities, and accomplishments are to be enriched over time, the teachers must become reflective practitioners who actively seek to strengthen and augment their professional skills, knowledge, and perspectives throughout their careers.
A developmental view of teaching gives particular attention to the early years of each teacher's career. Beginning teachers move forward in their professional practice in a variety of ways, developing at different rates in different areas of teaching, just as students develop at individual rates in different curricular areas. Support, mentoring, assessment, and advanced study during the early years of teaching are essential to a beginning teacher's development and success in the profession.
Individual teachers enter the profession at varied levels of experience and expertise. The policies and practices of teacher education programs, certification bodies, and school districts must be guided by clear and realistic standards regarding professional performance. The following standards describe best teaching practices at an accomplished level. Teachers entering the profession with varied levels of prior preparation and competencies will find the standards useful to guide their developing practice as they reflect on their strengths and areas for professional growth in consultation with an experienced support teacher. For these new teachers, the California Standards for the Teaching Profession
reflect a developmental view of teaching, and are an integral part of the State's efforts to foster excellence in teaching and learning.