California Approves Revised Teaching Standards with Emphasis on Family Engagement, Social-Emotional Learning


California's Commission on Teacher Credentialing recently approved updated Standards for the Teaching Profession, placing a renewed emphasis on culturally responsive teaching, social-emotional learning (SEL), and family engagement.

The standards, intended to guide teachers' professional development and evaluation statewide, aim to redefine the expectations for effective teaching in the evolving educational landscape.

(Photo : UNSPLASH / National Cancer Institute)

Addressing Current Needs and Challenges

During the commission's meeting, stakeholders overwhelmingly supported the revised standards, recognizing their potential to transform teaching practices and enhance student outcomes. Advocates underscored the importance of recognizing and meeting the diverse needs of students, emphasizing the significance of engaging with students holistically.

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According to Leigh Dela Victoria, an instructional coach in the Fontana Unified School District, the new standards aim to humanize the education system by acknowledging students' identities and fostering inclusive learning environments. Dela Victoria highlighted the need for a paradigm shift in teaching practices to ensure that students' identities, assets, and agency are valued and integrated into classroom instruction effectively.

Key Domains of the Revised Standards

The updated Standards for the Teaching Profession outline six overarching domains, each addressing essential aspects of effective teaching:

1. *Engaging and Supporting All Students in Learning: Teachers leverage their understanding of each student to facilitate meaningful learning experiences that promote participation, engagement, and a sense of belonging.

2. Creating and Maintaining Effective Environments for Student Learning: Teachers cultivate safe, nurturing, and intellectually stimulating learning environments that affirm student agency, identity, and development while promoting equity and inclusivity.

3. Understanding and Organizing Subject Matter for Student Learning: Teachers design culturally relevant and equitable curricula that integrate content, processes, and resources to engage and challenge learners academically and socio-emotionally.

4. Planning Instruction and Designing Learning Experiences: Teachers design purposeful learning experiences that foster students' academic and social-emotional growth, setting clear instructional goals and pathways for student success.

5. Assessing Students for Learning: Teachers employ equitable assessment practices to gauge students' knowledge, skills, and needs, leveraging assessment data to inform instruction and support student progress.

6. Developing as a Professional Educator: Teachers engage in continuous professional learning and reflection to enhance their teaching capacity, leadership skills, and personal well-being, ultimately supporting student learning and well-being.

Emphasis on Family Engagement and Inclusion

The revised standards underscore the critical role of family and community engagement in student success. Teachers are encouraged to establish meaningful partnerships with families, leveraging effective communication strategies and cultivating relationships that support student learning and development.

Additionally, the updated standards include provisions for teachers to examine their personal biases and ethical principles, promoting self-reflection and cultural humility in teaching practices.

Implementation and Future Directions

Despite calls for a delay in the implementation of the revised standards, the commission voted to proceed with their rollout in the 2025-26 school year. Chair Marquita Grenot-Scheyer emphasized the need for an implementation plan to support school districts and teacher preparation programs during the transition.

While some stakeholders expressed concerns about the readiness of programs to implement the new standards, others emphasized the urgency of improving educational outcomes for students. The revised Standards for the Teaching Profession represent a significant step toward fostering inclusive, student-centered learning environments that meet the diverse needs of California's student population.

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