current tests. The second set is about evaluating teacher education, and the final recommendations encourage new and innovative assessments.


The committee examined four types of data in response to this question; it looked at practice and research data on the knowledge, skills, abilities, and dispositions that competent teachers demonstrate; information about current licensing systems and licensing tests; evaluation data for several widely used teacher licensure tests; and an investigation of the extent to which tests can and cannot improve teacher competence and supply.

Defining Competent Beginning Teaching

Definitions of what teachers should know and be able to do have changed over time as society’s values have changed, and they will continue to do so. The job of teaching students to learn and use new information, develop and apply skills, and think critically is highly complex and demanding. Teachers need to motivate and engage all students, including students from varied backgrounds and students with different learning and language needs. In addition to being responsible for student learning, teachers are expected to provide safe and nurturing classrooms, to serve as good role models, and to engage parents and the community in the business of their schools. Teachers need a wide range of knowledge, skills, abilities, and dispositions to perform these many complex tasks.

The quality of teaching in a school depends on more than just teacher quality. Quality teaching depends on a number of factors, including the amount and quality of instructional resources available, teacher professional development, staffing, and support from administrators and parents.

There is no single agreed-upon definition of what competencies a beginning teacher should have. Different professional organizations and many states have recently developed standards for teachers. The fact that different states have affiliations with these national and regional standards development efforts suggests some agreement between states about standards for teacher competence. Given that states have different educational standards for students, have teacher candidate pools with different characteristics, and that licensing of teachers is a state responsibility, it is not surprising that there is some variation in the knowledge and skills that states seek for their beginning teachers.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement