A panel of education experts convened by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) reported today that a major overhaul of teacher preparation programs in the United States is needed.
The panel recommended that teacher training learn from medical schools, and increase emphasis on clinical practice, as well as bolster admissions criteria, make graduation requirements more stringent, and increase rigor in the classes offered.
The panel criticized the 10–12 week stint that most states require student teachers to spend observing and student-teaching as too little, particularly since much of that time is spent in lectures, rather than in hands-on training.
Evidence increasingly points to teacher quality as the greatest determinant factor in student achievement. Yet the states, which set their own requirements for admissions and graduation from colleges of education and licensing of teachers vary markedly, with licenses being granted—in some cases—to candidates who have not completed nationally accredited programs.
Teaching has traditionally been a career choice that attracts candidates with lower grade-point averages and lower grades on college entrance examinations than other professions. And despite some recent changes to admissions standards, it seems to be agreed that more remains to be done.
Because of lack of follow-up, an op-ed titled “Training Better Teachers” in the Los Angeles Times points out, clear connections are not being drawn between specific approaches to teacher preparation and performance. Teacher-training programs do not make it a practice to keep in touch with their graduates or the school districts that employ them to see what kind of results they are achieving. The op-ed also points to the fact that the accrediting agencies are funded by the universities whose programs they’re evaluating.
The states of California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and Tennessee have already committed to implementing the recommendations of the panel including:
• increased focus on teacher practice
• shared accountability for P-12 student performance by higher education and school districts
• attracting more highly qualified and more diverse applicants into teacher training programs
• changing the monitoring of teacher training
• changing the rewards structure for teachers
• increased scrutiny of teacher preparation
• disincentives for training teachers in specialties that are not in demand
• clear research agenda to provide evidence for best practice in teacher training
NCATE’s report and more information are available on the NCATE site.
Wall Street Journal “Teacher Training Is Panned“