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Barack Obama made one of the biggest shifts of his presidency this weekend: He morphed into a harsh critic of standardized tests. After seven years of trying to hold schools and teachers to higher standards — and testing to make sure they meet them — Obama said he's taken it too far.
Howard County schools officials announced a new effort this week to improve workforce diversity, forging a partnership with McDaniel College that will provide full scholarships to low-income students who commit to three years of employment in the Maryland school system after graduation. Described by those involved as the first program of its kind, the initiative comes amid efforts by a number of school systems to improve the diversity of their teacher corps. Nationally, the percentage of minority students is far larger than that of minority teachers.
Thomas College is setting out to be a leader in educating the next generation of teachers with the establishment of its Center for Innovation in Education, which was officially unveiled Tuesday afternoon at a news conference. With the establishment of the new center — the first of its kind in the state’s higher education system, college officials said Tuesday — the college will refocus its education programs to include teaching proficiency-based learning standards, an emphasis on technology infusion and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) methods.
Teacher preparation regulations from the Department of Education were originally expected to be published by November 1 and to go in to effect on July 1, 2016. Now the Department has indicated the regulations will not be published by the November 1 deadline and as a result, the earliest the regulations could potentially go in to effect is July 1, 2017.
While many influences contribute to a student’s academic achievement— drive, family background—research suggests that the single most important factor inside the school itself for K-12 students is the quality of the teacher.
When the global teacher training and credential program TEACH-NOW launched four years ago, Emily Feistritzer wanted to prepare teachers who would be comfortable using technology in classrooms. Nearly 700 graduates later, the feedback from those who finished the nine-month program is so positive, TEACH-NOW’s leaders say, that they are planning a quick expansion.
Daniel T. Willingham, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, writes: Most Americans think that teaching is a natural talent, not the product of training, and that smart people are the ones with the talent. So some policy makers have concluded that the way to improve schooling is to lure top-scoring graduates into teaching (as Japan does) instead of scraping the bottom of the academic barrel (as America supposedly does). Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, invoked this idea in a speech last year. But the problem in American education is not dumb teachers. The problem is dumb teacher training.
Kenneth Zeichner, a professor of teacher education at the University of Washington, Seattle, and professor emeritus in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Hilary G. Conklin, a program leader and associate professor of secondary social studies at DePaul University write: The selective and biased use of findings from studies, the consultation of limited and select research, and the repeated assertion that new, entrepreneurial programs are superior and that university teacher education is broken —assertions spread by mostly uncritical media coverage—have set us on a course to destroy the university-based teacher education system that has dominated the preparation of teachers in the United States since the 1960s.
Washington Post Columnist Valerie Strauss writes: If we are to turn this trend around, we need to act now to not only stop the attacks on teachers and tenure, but to stop evaluation systems designed to fire teachers based on metrics that no one understands. And we cannot forget that pay and working conditions matter. It should also come as no surprise that in states that pay teachers relatively well like New York State, the shortage does not yet exist.
Columnist Frank Bruni writes: We’ve failed to make teaching the draw that it should be, the honor that it must be. Nationally, enrollment in teacher preparation programs dropped by 30 percent between 2010 and 2014, as Rich reported. To make matters worse, more than 40 percent of the people who do go into teaching exit the profession within five years.