The nation's leading teacher educators made a startling admission last year in their tome, Studying Teacher Education, by conceding there's little evidence that what happens in ed schools helps in the K-12 classroom. Kate Walsh explores why teacher educators are ignoring the achievement gap and, thus, consigning their field to irrelevance.
The standards of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Excellence (NCATE) are of critical import for America's future teaching corps and will wield disproportionate influence for decades to come. Over the past fifteen years, 25 states have outsourced the approval of teacher preparation programs to NCATE by adopting or adapting its standards as their own; the other 25 have various 'partnerships' with the organization. Which makes it all the more disturbing that central to these standards is the call for teachers to possess certain 'dispositions' such as particular attitudes toward 'social justice.' As Professor William Damon of Stanford University explains in Fordham's latest Fwd: Arresting Insights in Education, NCATE's framing of the 'dispositions' issue has given education schools 'unbounded power over what candidates may think and do.' This is leading to (understandable) charges of ideological arm-twisting and Orwellian mind-control.
In just more than five years, Mary Anne Stanton has led 13 Catholic schools from high-poverty Washington, D.C. neighborhoods into a consortium that has not only strengthened each school's financial health, but has also greatly improved the academic performance of the children the schools are charged with educating. To get there, she's installed a new standards-based curriculum, shaken up old bureaucratic approaches, and streamlined operations. In its latest Fwd: Arresting Insights in Education, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation presents a compelling story of just how much change can be made by one determined school leader with a vision.
This report, published jointly by the Fordham Institute and The Broad Foundation, contends that American public education faces a 'crisis in leadership' that cannot be alleviated from traditional sources of school principals and superintendents. Its signers do not believe this crisis can be fixed by conventional strategies for preparing, certifying and employing education leaders. Instead, they urge that first-rate leaders be sought outside the education field, earn salaries on par with their peers in other professions, and gain new authority over school staffing, operations and budgets.
Will the sanctions for failing schools laid out in the politics-governance Act (NCLB) succeed in turning those schools around? This report draws on the results of previous efforts to overhaul failing schools to provide a glimpse at what may be expected from NCLB-style interventions. The results: no intervention strategy has a success rate greater than 50%, so policymakers are urged to consider additional options for children trapped in failing schools.
When schools are held accountable for results and freed from red tape governing personnel decisions, they take advantage of their freedom by adopting innovative strategies for hiring and rewarding teachers, according to this new report by economists Michael Podgursky and Dale Ballou. This study is based on a survey administered to a random sample of 132 public charter schools that have been operating for at least three years.
Why does our system of teacher certification emphasize training in pedagogy rather than subject-matter knowledge? The answer can be found in this report, which traces the emergence of state control over teacher certification. The focus is on efforts by the teacher education establishment to gain monopoly control over the licensing of teachers.
Most states are beginning to get serious about boosting the quality of their teaching force. Unfortunately, most of the steps they are taking point in the wrong direction. This 'report card' contains plenty of evidence of that fact-together with some happy exceptions and hopeful signs.