A statewide commission has rolled out its final recommendations to help improve working conditions for Missouri’s K-12 public school teachers. They are part of a statewide effort to get a grip of Missouri’s low teacher retention rate and teacher shortage.

The recommendations include:

•Investigating opportunities to expand apprenticeship and residency programs across Missouri to place more high-quality teacher candidates in classrooms

•Recruiting retired or former teachers to return in a support role

•Creating a master teaching certificate

•Assess whether any schools are using an advanced teaching roles model and, if so, develop a best practices document for statewide distribution

•Funding grants to make a model for an advanced teaching role

•Providing positive school culture and climate training for district leaders and school board members

•Using a leadership development system’s programming (Missouri Leadership Development System) to further support principals’ work to develop a positive school climate and culture, including effective student discipline

•Collecting additional data on the demographics of who is participating in the Missouri Leadership Development System to monitor and ensure that Missouri is producing and supporting high-quality school leaders across the state who are able to support a teacher workforce that reflects the demographics of the state’s student population

State Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven said the whole point is to recruit and retain more teachers – an in turn, help students.

“We call it the profession that develops all other professions,” said Vandeven. “When we talk about workforce development and the success of our children, we know that the teacher is very, very key to that. So, when we hear about teacher shortages and teachers who are wanting to leave the classroom due to high levels of stress, for example, that’s concerning to us.”

She said one focus is creating pathways to excel as classroom teachers.

“Right now, really the pathway to increased salaries or increased leadership roles takes them out of the classroom. So, how do we find pathways that will keep those really, really great teachers in the classrooms and appropriately compensate for them,” asked Vandeven.

Vandeven said finding ways for teachers to focus on teaching is important.

“How do we make sure that the teachers have appropriate time to do the important pre-work and post-work? I mean, we know that again, one of the greatest tools we can give to our students is effective feedback. If they don’t have time to examine the work or meet with individual students and give them that effective feedback, that’s a loss to the child,” said Vandeven.

According to Vandeven, the commission’s work focused on statewide levers.

“To the teachers who are reviewing this, they’re going to say, ‘Wow they missed this or they missed that,’ which that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t acknowledged or noted. It’s that we had to stay very focused on what it is that we can do at the statewide level. That doesn’t mean that we think those local levers are not important. They are really very, very important,” said Vandeven.

The Missouri Board of Education is expected to vote on the commission’s recommendations at its meeting next Tuesday. Once the board signs off on the plan, then the work begins on trying to deliver some of the changes through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and others at the legislative level.

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