Updated Multistate Review of Professional Teaching Standards

Primary Researchers: Melissa Eiler White, Reino Makkonen, Kari Becker Stewart

Publication Date: April 2010

States update their teaching standards on an ongoing basis and can learn from other states' efforts. This report by REL West adds to our previous 2009 review of teaching standards by incorporating California's recently adopted teaching standards. It also offers options for broad consideration that include structure and target groups of teachers, as well as ways of addressing special populations and use of technology, from six of the largest states in the nation.

This updated review resulted in a report written by REL West researchers, as well as one supplemental document: Profile of California's Teaching Standards [download below].

Research Questions

Three questions guided the research for this multistate review:

  • What is the target group of teachers for the teaching standards?
  • What is the structure of the teaching standards?
  • To what extent do the state teaching standards address instruction of English language learner students, instruction of students with disabilities, use of education technology, and instruction in the context of accountability and student learning standards?


Primary teaching standards documents were identified and reviewed for the six states. Examination of the standards documents focused on the target group of teachers, structure (scope, length, and terminology), and selected content (how the standards address particular teaching-related issues). The target group of teachers and the scope, length, and terminology were identified through references in introductions, preambles, or the standards themselves.

To establish how the standards address specific teaching-related issues of interest, standards were investigated to determine whether they explicitly referenced sets of keywords related to four topic areas: English learner students, students with disabilities, education technology, and accountability and student learning standards. References were then categorized according to topics that researchers identified inductively. Categorization discrepancies were resolved by assigning final codes based on the action that was directly described; references were coded in two categories only when a reference explicitly included two different actions.

Profiles of each state's teaching standards were prepared and used as the basis for the cross-state analysis.

Key Findings

Key findings of the review, which examined each state’s teaching standards and supporting documents, include the following:

• Teaching standards in California, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio cover all teachers, from beginning to experienced. Standards in Texas are expressly for beginning teachers.

• California, Illinois, and North Carolina each have one set of teaching standards for all teachers. Florida differentiates its standards by teacher career level (preprofessional, professional, and accomplished) and Ohio by teacher performance level (proficient, accomplished, and distinguished). Texas has 50 sets of teaching standards, generally organized by content area and grade span. However, one set, the pedagogy and professional responsibilities standards (EC–12), applies to all beginning teachers from early childhood education through grade 12. This set is similar to the other state teaching standards reviewed for this study in content and purpose, and thus is the set examined for Texas.

• The professional teaching standards documents reviewed range from 4 pages (North Carolina) to 32 pages (Florida), and the number of teaching standards per document ranges from 4 (Texas) to 12 (Florida).

• Instruction of English language learner students is addressed through the following topics: recognizing or supporting diversity (5 states), differentiating instruction for English language learner students (5 states), knowing language acquisition and other learning theory and strategies (3 states), assessing students’ language status and development (3 states), communicating with students and families (2 states), and selecting related materials or curricula (2 states).

• Instruction of students with disabilities is addressed through differentiating instruction (5 states), collaborating with Individualized Education Program teams and other stakeholders (4 states), practicing inclusion of students with disabilities (3 states), knowing students’ rights (3 states), understanding patterns or styles of learning (2 states), identifying students with disabilities (2 states), assessing students with disabilities (2 states), and teacher attitudes and self-assessment (1 state).

• The use of technology in the classroom is addressed by effectively integrating technology into instruction (6 states), using technology to assess student performance (4 states), identifying technology and evaluating its instructional value (4 states), understanding conventions for managing electronic information (3 states), demonstrating competency with an interest in technology (3 states), using assistive technology for students with disabilities (3 states), and collaborating and communicating on the use of technology (2 states).

• Accountability and student learning standards are addressed through knowing and understanding state learning standards (5 states), delivering standards-based instruction (4 states), using learning standards to plan instruction (3 states), and assessing student progress toward meeting the state learning standards (2 states).

  • Published: April 2010
  • Research Type: Technical Brief
  • Methodologies: Descriptive
  • Contact info:
    Melissa Eiler White 916.492.4057


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