Teacher Training Programs: The Missing Link in Student Achievement?
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Friday a new federal initiative to improve teacher training programs across the country, including $185 million to reward teachers for superior student test scores.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, the federal program would require states to make teacher licensing exams more challenging, and require sub-par teacher training programs to be shut down.
While announcing the new initiative Friday at a Washington, D.C. event sponsored by the Education Sector policy think tank, Duncan had some zingers:
*Close to two-thirds of new teachers say they feel unprepared for their jobs. What would happen if a similar percentage of doctors had a similar lack of confidence?
*In the past 12 years, over half the nation's states haven't rated even one teacher preparation program as inferior. That statistic is "laughable," Duncan said.
The feds' new plan has signifiant support from a wide circle of the education community. At Friday's event Teach for America founder and CEO Wendy Kopp praised Duncan's plan as having "so much promise" to move the conversation beyond "the blame game." Also on board is the National Education Association. The teachers' union president Dennis Van Roekel (also a featured speaker at Friday's event) called it "a good day ... we're talking about building the profession instead of tearing it down."
This might mark a new shift in the conversation, to how teachers are being trained and whether the bar is high enough for those pre-classroom expectations. In Louisiana, which Duncan praised as an example of a state aggressively tackling the question of teacher quality, studies have found significant differences in student outcomes based on where their teachers trained.
Elena Silva, a senior policy analyst with the Education Sector, said at Friday's event that the think tank encourages states to be more accurate and honest when evaluating teacher training programs. For more on Education Sector's take on the issue, click here.
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