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The United States has some of the best university-based math teacher training programs in the world. But we also have some of the worst – and those poor performing programs produce 60 percent of the country’s teachers in schools with the highest percentage of students living in poverty, according to research released earlier this month from William Schmidt, co-director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University. The United States was the only country in his study to have such a wide range of performance by math teachers in teacher preparation programs.
Teaching may be attracting a more academically successful group of people compared to previous years, according to a new study released Wednesday. Two researchers at the University of Washington examined four national data sets to determine how the characteristics of first-year teachers changed between 1993 and 2010. The study found that more new teachers have advanced degrees than ever before. During the 2007-08 school year, 26 percent of new teachers entered the classroom with a master’s degree, compared to 17 percent two decades earlier.
In an effort to get more effective teachers into America’s classrooms, seven states have joined a new initiative to “strengthen” teacher licensure standards and “raise the bar” on the approval process for teacher prep programs. The initiative — led by the Council of Chief State School Officers, or CCSSO, and formally called the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation, or NTEP — grew out of a “call to action” that CCSSO issued late last year and adds to the growing momentum to make university-based teacher preparation programs more accountable for student achievement.
In the past two years, the quality of teacher education programs has been repeatedly called into question, and a federal panel could not come to a consensus on the role students’ test scores should have on teachers’ evaluations. A report released today by the National Academy of Education suggests that more emphasis should be placed on designing evaluations of teacher training programs. Current approaches to evaluating teaching programs are “complex, varied, and fragmented,” the report said.
The federal government should prod states to better measure the performance of college teacher education programs and redistribute federal funds for the programs to allow a small number of states each year to redesign their training approaches, the Education Trust argues in a new report.
Within two years, Davenport University President Richard Pappas expects the private nonprofit institution to offer a new special degree program for Detroit Public Schools teachers and a new employment guarantee to students.
Can we find enough effective teachers in our local communities? Can we offer a one-year internship instead of the traditional one-semester student-teaching placement? Can we wrap coursework around practical experience to replace our traditional separate-systems approach? Can we place teacher educators in our local schools instead of relegating them to our ivory towers? Absolutely. We can, and we must.
Of the 20 best universities, defined by the U.S. News & World Report 2013 rankings, only one offers a major in elementary education. The picture at the top 20 liberal-arts colleges looks strikingly similar. Students can major in elementary education at three, and can obtain certification in secondary education at just over half. Clearly, our top colleges and universities send an implicit message in their course offerings about what is and isn’t appropriate for their students to study.
The State Higher Education Executive Officers and the National Association of System Heads are calling for less government regulation of how teachers are trained and more emphasis on giving would-be teachers classroom experience. In particular, the groups are seeking to make teacher-education programs more selective, by increasing requirements for content mastery and by expanding opportunities for education-school students to get more practical experience before entering the profession.
A report highly critical of the quality of teacher education programs by the National Council on Teacher Quality, released June 18, immediately generated national media coverage. The data and methodology NCTQ used, which found 164 programs so lacking that they received a “Consumer Alert,” has been deemed unscientific and invalid by some experts. Further, the group used questionable tactics to obtain data from private colleges, relatively few of which participated in the review.