No need to reinvent the wheel
For a bit over a year, the National Council on Teacher Quality has been engaging in a mammoth undertaking: to dive behind the Oz-like curtain and collect data on the efficacy and rigor of each and every one of America’s teacher-preparation programs—difficult not only because of the size of the dataset but also because of resistance to such data collection. Slews of education schools have refused to participate in the survey (the University of Wisconsin, all of Georgia’s public institutions, and New York’s SUNY system come to mind). But let that be no hindrance to Arne Duncan, who announced last week a new federal plan to improve teacher-preparation programs. The initiative will center upon three axes: The first will support states as they collect data on training-program quality (based on job placement, a survey of program graduates, and the value-add that alum contribute to student achievement). The second will seek to revamp the TEACH grant program, providing scholarships to strong teacher candidates while also monetarily supporting states that develop rigorous teacher-training systems. And the last will kick in funds to support minority-serving institutions. While mending America’s broken teacher-prep system is an admirable goal, Duncan would be better served by streamlining his objectives. A proposal: Ditch the monetary incentives attached to the proposed, yet amorphous “rigorous teacher-training systems.” Instead, condition receipt of these new federal dollars on a state’s participation in NCTQ’s efforts (they’ve already pushed this boulder halfway up the hill, and would likely appreciate some reinforcements)—and the adoption of improved data systems.
|Click to listen to commentary on Duncan's new proposal from the Education Gadfly Show podcast.
“New Path for Teacher Ed Reform,” by Allie Grasgreen, Inside Higher Ed, October 3, 2011.“Duncan Introduces Plan to Reform and Improve Teacher Prep,” by Cameron Brenchley, Department of Education Blog, September 30, 2011.
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