H. Richard Milner IV, Vanderbilt University
This brief discusses how three recent popular educational reform policies move teachingtowards or away from professionalization. These reforms are (1) policies that evaluate
teachers based on students’ annual standardized test score gains
, and specifically, those based on value-added assessment; (2) fast-track teacher preparation and licensure; and (3)scripted, narrowed curricula. These particular policy reforms are considered because of their contemporary prominence and the fact that they directly influence the way teachingis perceived.This analysis demonstrates that these three reforms, on the whole, lower the professionalstatus of teaching. The pattern is nuanced, however. For instance, value-added teacherevaluation policies could be viewed as increasing professional status by their heavy emphasis on the role teachers can play on student achievement. To the contrary, value-added policies can be considered
: pressuring teachers tomechanically teach to tests while systematically devaluing the broader yet essentialelements of teaching. Alternative, fast-track teacher preparation programs, such as TeachFor America, purport to recruit from academic elites, which can be seen as a step towardsprofessionalization. At the same time, fast-track teacher preparation and licensureprograms de-professionalize teaching by the lack of focus on pedagogical training, thesmall amount of time dedicated to preparing teachers to teach, the assignment of inexperienced personnel to the most challenging schools, and the itinerate nature of theseteachers. Scripted and narrowed curriculum could be said to move teaching closer toprofessional status by defining what should and will be covered. To the contrary, scriptedand narrowed curriculum moves teaching away from professionalization by not allowingteachers to rely on their professional judgment to make curricula decisions for studentlearning, with the consequent sacrifice of higher-level learning, creativity, flexibility, and breadth of learning.
When the positive and negative effects of these three reforms are weighed together, thescale indicates they are far more de-professionalizing than professionalizing. As the quality