Teaching teachers: How colleges are doing

How well are teachers’ colleges teaching our teachers? Most first-year teachers were satisfied with their training, concludes Public Agenda’s Lessons Learned survey. Overall 8 in 10 felt they were prepared for their first classroom (42 percent said “very prepared).

However, only 39 percent said their training in dealing with diverse classrooms helped them “a lot” once they were in their own classroom.

New middle and high school teachers said their training put too much stress on theory and not enough on the practical demands of the classroom.

Teachers, especially at the high school level, were more critical of the support they got — or didn’t get — when they started teaching.

Just a quarter of new high school teachers (26 percent) said they get excellent advice on lesson plans and teaching techniques, compared to 39 percent of elementary school teachers who said the same.

There is also a 10-point difference on the advice they said they got about handling unmotivated students: 31 percent of high school teachers say they get excellent advice, compared to 41 percent of grade school teachers.

U.S. News and World Report and the National Council on Teacher Quality plan to rate teachers colleges. The education schools aren’t pleased.

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  1. Surveys of teachers mean little. Neither does a ranking of Colleges of Education. I would like to see a study which compares district-level aggregate measures of student performance with teacher credential requirements as the independent variable. That is:
    1. Do credits in Education make any difference to student performance?
    2: Do a teacher’s graduate-level credits Math, History, or Biology make any difference in aggregate student Math, History, or Science performance at the 8th grade level?
    I suspect the answers would be:
    1. Yes, in the negative (college of Education coursework should count against an applicant).
    2. Yes, in the positive, but only slightly.

  2. I”m glad to see that they mentioned the breakdown between high school and elementary school. It gets a bit irritating when they ignore the difference.

    I do not think that ed schools adequately cover the debate on educational philosophy at all. They indoctrinate thoroughly, though.

  3. Malcolm,

    You’d be wrong on the first–I doubt it makes any difference. The second one, if you controlled for scores on qualifying tests, would not make any difference.