Brown signs $500m teacher training bill

Brown signs $500m teacher training bill

(Calif.) Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday authorizing the distribution of $490 million in teacher training money to school districts based on their number of full-time equivalent certificated staff.

The money was agreed upon during budget negotiations earlier this summer and can be used for any number of teacher training services, from professional development in new English, math and science curriculum to induction programs for those new to the job.

Focus on professional development for teachers has increased in recent years as more and more research shows that a well-trained classroom instructor provides the single biggest influence on promoting student achievement. The challenges teachers face, however, have also increased.

Adoption of the Common Core State Standards has posed the biggest change, but a new computer-based assessment system and a variety of new instructional materials have also required teacher adaptation.

While the new grant money is intended to cover many training needs, there has been special attention this session focused on beginning teachers and induction training.

Induction programs have long been considered a critical support for teachers in their first years on the job. Typically the programs are based on individualized mentoring from more experienced educators and more time in classrooms to observe exemplary instruction techniques.

Except in rare cases, newly-minted teachers are required to complete an accredited teacher induction program within five years to advance to a professional credential.

Since the early 1990s, the Legislature has dedicated special funding for the state’s induction program, Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program or BTSA.

That changed in 2009 with the onset of the recession when the Legislature gave LEAs flexibility over the BTSA money. Two years later, Brown pushed the Local Control Funding Formula into law and eliminated almost all categorical funding altogether.

As a result, LEAs have approached induction in a variety of ways. Some have maintained their programs and paid for them out of the LCFF money. Some have put the burden on the new teachers, charging them for participation while others have chosen to stop offering the training altogether.

The responsibility for completing the training, however, remains on new teachers.

A separate bill, still pending before the governor, SB 141 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, would prohibit school districts or charter schools from charging for the induction training beginning with the 2016-17 school year.

The final version, however, did not include a provision that would have required school districts or charters to provide the beginning teacher training.

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