Getting tough on teacher ed programs

Texas will judge teacher-training programs based on graduates’ effectiveness in the classroom, reports the Houston Chronicle. Poor programs could lose state accreditation. Till now, programs have been judged only by the percentage of graduates who pass the teacher certification exam.

The biggest change to the accrediting rules — and potentially the most controversial — involves linking a teacher’s ability to improve student test scores to that teacher’s training. In theory, the state, which still is working on a formula and a long-range data system, should be able to determine which programs produce graduates whose students make the biggest — or smallest — gains.

. . . The programs also will get graded on how often and how well they follow up with teachers during their first year on the job. In addition, school principals will get to weigh in on the programs through evaluations of the new teachers they hire.

On Education Gadfly, Stafford Palmieri thinks the “fortified walls” of teachers’ colleges are ready to crack, battered by “the development and refinement of value-added assessment, the widening use of data-based decision-making in education, and the improvement of state and district data systems,” plus the growth of alternative certification programs.

A growing number of charter schools, as well as the overwhelming majority of private schools, don’t even require certification. A few districts, such as Cambridge, Massachusetts, and some charter school operators, like High Tech High, simply train their own.

More than 90 percent of California principals say teachers from alternative certification programs are as good or better than other beginning teachers, according to a survey conducted by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) and California Teacher Corps.

The American Federation of Teachers hates the new SMHC report on “strategies for attracting, developing, and maintaining an effective teacher workforce,” notes Teacher Beat.

Among the recommendations, the report says states and districts should raise entry requirements for teacher preparation; institute a tiered licensure system requiring teachers to complete an induction program and demonstrate teaching effectiveness before receiving tenure; and overhaul professional development and evaluations to be standards-based and to provide pathways for teacher improvement.

AFT President Randi Weingarten complains that “the proposals don’t pay enough attention to the context in which teachers teach, and that accountability for student outcomes is focused too heavily on teachers, and not on the administrators and other environmental factors that affect working conditions. And finally, there is not enough focus on developing reforms in collaboration, with unions.”

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  1. I think that we should not transfer undue pressure upon the teachers to improve the performance of the students because I believe that every teacher tries his/her best. However, more cooperation, facilities in attending teaching oriented programs can definitely improve the results. Formulating and implementing strategies for attracting, developing, and maintaining an effective teacher workforce should be a continuous process.

  2. I have no idea what that last commenter is proposing, but it doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in. Know what I think makes for an effective teacher? Start with a good curriculum, over which the teacher has next to no control, and serious evaluations by people who know what good teaching looks like.

    And create an environment throughout the school where disruptions aren’t tolerated.

    Good teaching starts *outside* the classroom–in the home, in the district office, and in the school office. The best teacher on the planet will struggle if any of those three is severely out of whack.