(a) The Legislature makes the following findings:
(1) Processes set forth in this article for evaluation, teacher induction and professional growth is not intended to make up for substandard initial preparation of teachers, but instead is intended to build on a solid foundation created by the teacher preparation programs. Therefore, the Legislature expects the teacher preparation programs to graduate teachers who can perform at a level that increases student achievement. The Legislature expects that the processes set forth in this article will allow a teacher to excel beyond that level in the classroom;
(2) The comprehensive system of support provided for in this article should be implemented in a way that, as compared with the beginning teacher internship system, much more effectively provides for the professional growth of teachers;
(3) In order for the comprehensive system of support to much more effectively provide for professional growth for teachers, funding should be greatly increased over and above what has been provided for the beginning teacher internship system; and
(4) Although the quality of the teacher in the classroom is extremely important to the academic achievement of students, students cannot learn if they are not in the classroom. Therefore, attending school on a regular basis is of utmost importance to the academic success of students.
(b) The purpose of this article is to create a comprehensive infrastructure that routinely supports a continuous process for improving teaching and learning. Its focus is on developing strong teaching and school leadership, without which effective learning does not occur. The general components of this infrastructure include the following:
(1) High-quality teacher preparation, induction and evaluation;
(2) Universal support for emerging teachers including comprehensive new teacher induction and support for student teachers, teachers teaching in assignments for which they have less than a full professional credential and teacher candidates pursuing certification through an alternative route;
(3) Evaluation of the performance of teachers and leaders in demonstrating high quality professional practice, leadership and collaboration and the resulting growth in student learning;
(4) Focused improvement in teaching and learning through the use of evaluation data to inform the delivery of professional development and additional supports to improve teaching based on the evaluation results and to inform the need for improvements in teacher preparation programs; and
(5) The creation of a leadership culture that seeks and builds powerful alliances among all stakeholders focused on continuous growth in student learning.
(c) For purposes of this article "professional personnel" includes classroom teachers, assistant principals and principals as defined in section one, article one chapter eighteen-a of this code.