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Alabama Quality Teaching Standards


Pursuant to the mission of improving the academic achievement of all students in the public

schools of Alabama, teachers will align their practice and professional learning with the following


Standard 1-Content Knowledge: To improve the learning of all students, teachers master

the disciplines related to their teaching fields including the central concepts, important facts and

skills, and tools of inquiry; they anchor content in learning experiences that make the subject

matter meaningful for all students.

Rationale. Researchers identify a strong relationship between teachers' content knowledge and

the achievement of their students. Three dimensions of content knowledge contribute to effective

teaching: (1) deep knowledge of the academic disciplines related to the subjects of instruction, (2)

an understanding of pedagogical content knowledge that is required to make the subject

understandable and meaningful for all learners, and (3) knowledge of the state standards and

district curriculum for subjects taught at particular instructional levels.

Key Indicators

A. Academic Discipline(s)

1. Knowledge of the structure of the academic disciplines related to the subject-matter content areas

of instruction and of the important facts and central concepts, principles, theories, and

tools of inquiry associated with these disciplines.

2. Knowledge of ways to organize and present content so that it is meaningful and engaging

to all learners whom they teach (pedagogical content knowledge).

3. Ability to use students' prior knowledge and experiences to introduce new subject-area

related content.

4. Ability to identify student assumptions and preconceptions about the content of a subject

area and to adjust instruction in consideration of these prior understandings.

5. Ability to help students make connections across the curriculum in order to promote

retention and transfer of knowledge to real-life settings.

B. Curriculum

1. Knowledge of the content standards and of the scope and sequence of the subject areas

of one's teaching fields as defined in the Alabama courses of study for those teaching fields.

2. Ability to provide accommodations, modifications, and/or adaptations to the general

curriculum to meet the needs of each individual learner.

3. Ability to select content and appropriately design and develop instructional activities to

address the scope and sequence of the curriculum.

Standard 2-Teaching and Learning: To increase the achievement of every student,

teachers draw upon a thorough understanding of learning and development; recognize the role of

families in supporting learning; design a student centered learning environment; and use researchbased

instructional and assessment strategies that motivate, engage, and maximize the learning of

all students.

Rationale. Instruction and assessment are the vehicles by which teachers design and deliver

rigorous and relevant learning experiences for all learners. Research provides compelling evidence

relating student achievement to teachers' use of appropriate instructional strategies selected from

a rich repertoire based in research and best practice. Researchers have also found a strong

classroom learning culture that is strategically organized and managed to be essential to effective

use of these strategies.

Key Indicators

A. Human Development

1. Knowledge of the physical, emotional, and social development of young people and of the

relationship of these to learning readiness and to cognitive development.

2. Knowledge of the role of language in learning.

3. Knowledge of the general characteristics of disabilities and of their impact on cognitive

development and learning.

4. Knowledge of developmentally appropriate instructional and management strategies.

5. Ability to teach explicit cognitive, metacognitive, and other learning strategies to support

students in becoming more successful learners.

6. Ability to use knowledge about human learning and development in the design of a

learning environment and learning experiences that will optimize each student's


7. Ability to recognize individual variations in learning and development that exceed the

typical range and use this information to provide appropriate learning experiences.

B. Organization and Management

1. Knowledge of the importance of developing learning objectives based on the Alabama

courses of study and the needs, interests, and abilities of students.

2. Knowledge of the principles underpinning a sound age-appropriate classroom organization

and management plan and of supportive behavior management strategies.

3. Knowledge of the components and characteristics of collaboratively designed and

implemented individual behavioral support plans.

4. Knowledge of conflict resolution strategies, school emergency response procedures, and

juvenile law.

5. Ability to plan and implement equitable and effective student access to available

technology and other resources to enhance student learning.

6. Ability to plan teaching and learning experiences that are congruent with the Alabama

courses of study and appropriate for diverse learners.

7. Ability to collect and use data to plan, monitor, and improve instruction.

8. Ability to organize, allocate, and manage the resources of time, space, and activities to

support the learning of every student.

9. Ability to organize, use, and monitor a variety of flexible student groupings and

instructional strategies to support differentiated instruction.

C. Learning Environment

1. Knowledge of norms and structures that contribute to a safe and stimulating learning


2. Knowledge of factors and situations that promote or diminish intrinsic motivation.

3. Ability to develop a positive relationship with every student and to take action to promote

positive social relationships among students, including students from different backgrounds

and abilities.

4. Ability to communicate with parents and/or families to support students' understanding of

appropriate behavior.

5. Ability to create learning environments that increase intrinsic motivation and optimize

student engagement and learning.

6. Ability to use individual behavioral support plans to proactively respond to the needs of all


7. Ability to create a print-/language-rich environment that develops/extends students' desire

and ability to read, write, speak, and listen.

8. Ability to encourage students to assume increasing responsibility for themselves and to

support one another's learning.

D. Instructional Strategies

1. Knowledge of research and theory underpinning effective teaching and learning.

2. Knowledge of a wide range of research-based instructional strategies and the advantages and

disadvantages associated with each.

3. Knowledge of strategies that promote retention as well as transfer of learning and the

relationship between these two learning outcomes.

4. Knowledge of the importance of parents and/or families as active partners in planning and

supporting student learning.

5. Ability to select and support the use of instructional and assistive technologies and to

integrate these into a coherent instructional design.

6. Ability to make developmentally appropriate choices in selecting teaching strategies to

assist diverse learners in meeting instructional objectives.

7. Ability to evaluate, select, and integrate a variety of strategies such as cooperative

learning, discussion, discovery, problem-based learning, and direct instruction into a

coherent lesson design.

8. Ability to adjust instruction in response to information gathered from ongoing monitoring of

performance via formative assessment.

9. Ability to use questions and questioning to assist all students in developing skills and

strategies in critical and high order thinking and problem solving.

10. Ability to use strategies that promote the independence, self-control, personal

responsibility, and self-advocacy of all students.

E. Assessment

1. Knowledge of the purposes, strengths, and limitations of formative and summative

assessment and of formal and informal assessment strategies.

2. Knowledge of the relationship between assessment and learning and of how to

integrate appropriate assessments into all stages of the learning process.

3. Knowledge of measurement-related issues such as validity, reliability, norms, bias,

scoring concerns, and ethical uses of tests and test results.

4. Knowledge of current Alabama assessment requirements and procedures.

5. Ability to design and use a variety of approaches to formal and informal

assessment to plan instruction, monitor student understanding and progress

toward learning, modify teaching and learning strategies, and measure and report

student progress related to learning objectives.

6. Ability to collaborate with others to design and score common assessments and to

use results to share and compare instructional practice and plan new instruction.

7. Ability to collaborate with others to incorporate accommodations into all

assessments as appropriate.

8. Ability to provide a variety of ways for students with diverse needs, including

students with disabilities, to demonstrate their learning.

9. Ability to develop rubrics and to teach students how to use them to assess their

own performances.

10. Ability to develop and select appropriate performance assessments.

11. Ability to engage all students in assessing and understanding their own learning

and behavior.

12. Ability to interpret and use reports from state assessments and results of other

assessments to design both group and individual learning experiences.

Standard 3-Literacy: To improve student learning and achievement, teachers use

knowledge of effective oral and written communications, reading, mathematics, and technology to

facilitate and support direct instruction, active inquiry, collaboration, and positive interaction.

Rationale. Research clearly indicates that one of the strongest correlates to effective teaching is a

high level of literacy. Not only do effective teachers demonstrate effective use of the spoken and

written language, reading, mathematics, and technology, they also model and actively teach their

students the fundamentals of reading, writing, and oral communications across all content areas.

Additionally, in this culture where technology is ubiquitous, teachers demonstrate mastery of

appropriate instructional technology and integrate technology into instruction of their subject areas.

A. Oral and Written Communications

1. Knowledge of standard oral and written communications.

2. Knowledge of the impact of native language and linguistic background on language


3. Knowledge of media communication technologies that enrich learning opportunities.

4. Ability to model appropriate oral and written communications.

5. Ability to demonstrate appropriate communication strategies that include questioning and

active and reflective listening.

6. Ability to foster effective verbal and nonverbal communications during ongoing instruction

using assistive technologies as appropriate.

7. Ability to integrate skill development in oral and written communications into all content

areas that one teaches.

8. Ability to use effective nonverbal communication and respond appropriately to nonverbal

cues from students.

B. Reading

1. Knowledge of strategies associated with accelerated, highly specialized, explicit

instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension that

significantly expands and increases students' pace of learning and competence in reading,

writing, speaking, and listening.

2. Knowledge of assessment tools to monitor the acquisition of reading strategies, to improve

reading instruction, and to identify students who require additional instruction.

3. Ability to integrate reading instruction into all content areas that one teaches.

4. Ability to stimulate interest in and foster appreciation for the written word, promote reading

growth, and increase the motivation of students to read widely and independently for

information and pleasure.

C. Mathematics

1. Knowledge of the role that mathematics plays in everyday life.

2. Knowledge of the concepts and relationships in number systems.

3. Knowledge of the appropriate use of various types of reasoning, including inductive,

deductive, spatial and proportional, and understanding of valid and invalid forms of


4. Knowledge of both metric and customary measurement and fundamental geometric

concepts, including shapes and their properties and relationships.

5. Ability to solve problems using different strategies, to verify and interpret results, and to

draw conclusions.

6. Ability to communicate with others about mathematical concepts, processes, and symbols.

D. Technology

1. Knowledge of available and emerging technologies that support the learning of all


2. Knowledge of the wide range of technologies that support and enhance instruction,

including classroom and school resources as well as distance learning and online learning


3. Ability to integrate technology into the teaching of all content areas.

4. Ability to facilitate students' individual and collaborative use of technology, including

classroom resources as well as distance and online learning opportunities when available

and appropriate.

5. Ability to use technology to assess student progress and manage records.

6. Ability to evaluate students' technology proficiency and students' technology-based

products within content areas.

Standard 4-Diversity: To improve the learning of all students, teachers differentiate

instruction in ways that exhibit a deep understanding of how cultural, ethnic, and social

background; second language learning; special needs; exceptionalities; and learning styles affect

student motivation, cognitive processing, and academic performance.

Rationale. Teachers who respect and build upon diversity create a learning environment in which

all students feel valued and supported in their learning. Respect for diversity grows out of

knowledge of differences, including differences in students' cultural, ethnic, language, social, and

experiential backgrounds; differences in their physical, emotional, and social development;

differences in their readiness for a particular curricular goal; and differences in their learning styles

and strengths. Teachers have a rich understanding of these and other important areas of diversity

as well as knowledge of curricular and instructional modifications that improve the learning of the

wide range of individual learners in their classrooms.

Key Indicators

A. Cultural, Ethnic and Social Diversity

1. Knowledge of the ways in which student learning is influenced by individual experiences and

out-of-school learning, including language and family/community values and conditions.

2. Knowledge of cultural, ethnic, gender, linguistic, and socio-economic differences and of

how these may affect individual learner needs, preferences, and styles.

3. Knowledge of the characteristics of one's own culture and use of language and of how

they differ from other cultures.

4. Ability to develop culturally responsive curriculum and instruction, i.e., model, teach, and

integrate multicultural awareness, acceptance, and appreciation into ongoing instruction.

5. Ability to communicate in ways that demonstrate sensitivity to diversity such as

appropriate use of eye contact, interpretation of body language and verbal statements, and

acknowledgement of and responsiveness to different modes of communication and


B. Language Diversity

1. Knowledge of the process of second language acquisition and strategies to support the

learning of students whose first language is not English.

2. Ability to differentiate between learner difficulties that are related to cognitive or skill

development and those that relate to language learning.

3. Ability to collaborate with teachers of English language learners and to assist those

students with full integration into the regular classroom.

C. Special Needs

1. Knowledge of the major areas of exceptionality in learning, including the range of physical

and mental disabilities, social and emotional disorders, giftedness, dyslexia, and attention

deficit disorder.

2. Knowledge of the indicators of the need for special education services.

3. Ability to identify and refer students for diagnosis for special services.

4. Ability to address learning differences and disabilities that are prevalent in an inclusive


D. Learning Styles

1. Knowledge of research and theory related to learning styles and multiple intelligences.

2. Knowledge of a range of curricular materials and technologies to support the cognitive

development of diverse learners.

3. Ability to help students assess their own learning styles and to build upon identified


4. Ability to design learning experiences that engage all learning styles.

E. General

1. Knowledge of how personal/cultural biases can affect teaching and learning.

2. Ability to involve families, community agencies and organizations, and colleagues in

helping support academic achievement of diverse learners.

3. Ability to create a learning community in which individual differences are respected.

4. Ability to assess and diagnose individual student's contexts, strengths, and learning needs

and to tailor curriculum and teaching to address these personal characteristics.

Standard 5-Professionalism: To increase the achievement of all students, teachers

engage in continuous learning and self improvement; collaborate with colleagues to create and

adopt research-based best practices to achieve ongoing classroom and school improvement; and

adhere to the Alabama Educator Code of Ethics and federal, state, and local laws and policies.

Rationale. Current research relates teacher collaboration, shared responsibility for student

learning, and job-embedded learning in professional community to higher levels of student

achievement. This research challenges the independence and isolation that has historically

characterized the teaching profession and calls for deprivatization of practice. An underlying

premise of professional learning communities is the power of ongoing, continuous learning that

takes place in a culture where risk and experimentation are rewarded. In schools where there is a

strong professional community, teachers actively participate in creating and sustaining such a

learning environment and in maintaining its focus upon improved student learning. Beyond

collaboration, teachers exhibit professionalism by demonstrating a personal commitment to

continuous learning and improvement; by adhering to high ethical standards; and by maintaining

currency with regard to federal, state, and local laws and policies. Teachers assume increased

leadership for schoolwide improvement initiatives and for mentoring of colleagues as they move

along their professional pathways.

A. Collaboration

1. Knowledge of the purposes, processes, structures, and potential benefits associated with

collaboration and teaming.

2. Knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of members of different types of teams

including, but not limited to, Building Based Student Support Teams.

3. Knowledge of roles and responsibilities of para-educators and other paraprofessionals.

4. Ability to involve parents and/or families as active partners in planning and supporting

student learning.

5. Ability to share instructional responsibility for students with diverse needs, including

students with disabilities, and to develop collaborative teaching relationships and

instructional strategies.

6. Ability to share responsibility for all students' learning across the school and collaborate

with colleagues to support every student's growth.

7. Ability to participate as reflective members of different types of teams including, but not

limited to, Building Based Student Support Teams.

8. Ability to collaborate in the planning of instruction for an expanded curriculum in general

education to include Individual Education Plans and other plans such as Section 504 goals

for students with disabilities.

9. Ability to communicate and collaborate effectively with colleagues, students, parents,

guardians, and significant agency personnel who are included and valued equally as


10. Ability to exhibit the professional dispositions delineated in professional, state, and

institutional standards while working with students, colleagues, families, and communities.

B. Continuous, Lifelong Professional Learning

1. Knowledge of a range of professional literature, particularly resources that relate to one's

own teaching field(s).

2. Knowledge of a range of professional learning opportunities, including job-embedded

learning, district- and state-sponsored workshops, university offerings, and online and

distance learning.

3. Knowledge of the processes and skills associated with peer coaching and mentoring.

4. Ability to articulate and reflect on a personal philosophy and its relationship to teaching

practice and professional learning choices and commitments.

5. Ability to use best practices, professional literature, and collegial assistance to improve as

a teacher and a learner.

6. Ability and willingness to inquire into one's own practice by designing action research to

determine the effectiveness of identified instructional strategies.

7. Ability to participate in the creation and nurturance of a learning environment that supports

standards-based inquiry, reflective practice, and collaborative learning for teachers at all

stages of their careers.

C. Alabama-Specific Improvement Initiatives

1. Knowledge of current and emerging state initiatives and programs including, but not

limited to, the Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI); the Alabama Math, Science, and

Technology Initiative (AMSTI); and Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and

Students Statewide (ACCESS) and their relationship to student achievement.

2. Knowledge of Alabama's state assessment requirements and processes.

3. Ability to integrate statewide programs and initiatives into the curriculum and instructional


4. Ability to communicate with students, parents, and the public about Alabama's

assessment system and major state educational improvement initiatives.

D. School Improvement

1. Knowledge of research relating collective responsibility for student learning to increased

achievement for all students.

2. Knowledge of the principles of individual and organizational change and a commitment to

assume personal responsibility for leading and supporting others in results-oriented changes.

3. Ability to participate in school improvement planning by working collaboratively with teams

focused on specific improvement initiatives.

4. Ability to assume increased leadership responsibility in school, district, and state

improvement initiatives over the course of one's professional career.

E. Ethics

1. Knowledge of appropriate professional behavior and dispositions expected of professionals

as outlined in the Alabama Educator Code of Ethics.

2. Knowledge of safe, responsible, legal, and ethical uses of technologies including fair-use

and copyright guidelines and Internet-user protection policies.

3. Ability to use and maintain confidential student information in an ethical and professional


4. Ability to practice safe, responsible, legal, and ethical use of technology and comply with

school and district acceptable-use policies including fair-use and copyright guidelines and

Internet-user protection policies.

F. Local, State, Federal Laws and Policies

1. Knowledge of laws related to students' and teachers' rights and responsibilities and the

importance of complying with those laws, including major principles of federal disabilities

legislation (IDEA, Section 504 and ADA), as well as Alabama statutes on child abuse and

neglect, and the importance of complying with those laws.

2. Ability to access school, community, state, and other resources and referral services.

3. Ability to access resources to gain information about federal, state, district, and school

policies and procedures.

4. Ability to keep accurate records including IEPs, especially records related to federal, state

and district policies, and other records with legal implications.