Teachers practice on simulated students

Future teachers at University of North Texas are teaching simulated students in a trial of simSchool.  From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

DENTON — One student is putting on lipstick in class while another has headphones on. A third student talks to his friend sitting next to him.

The teacher’s challenge: Try to engage these teenagers.

When the teacher suggests that the students do a worksheet, a girl puts her head on the desk.

So begins a computer program designed to prepare teachers for the modern youngster and help stem the flight of educators from the nation’s classrooms.

Future teachers are given profiles of students with different “expected academic performance, openness to learning and emotional stability.” Some have disabilities.

The program ends with a graph that follows the effectiveness of the assignment and the teacher’s comments with each student.

Those who’ve played the game rate their own teaching skills higher and say they have more confidence in their ability to reach students with different characteristics.

Via National Council on Teacher Quality Bulletin.

D.C. grads flunk ed school

Few would-be teachers earn an education degree in six years at the University of the District of Columbia, whose president wants to eliminate the education major.

Usually, 7 or 8 percent of the students who enroll in the department have graduated from it within six years, according to UDC data. Professors said that is primarily because many cannot pass a national standardized test of basic high school-level reading, writing and math skills.

In the early childhood education major, typically four to six of the approximately 150 students graduate each year.

President Allen Sessoms, who’s trying to raise standards at UDC, proposes replacing the education bachelor’s with a master’s degree in urban education.

Administrators say they are trying to break the cycle of training teachers who lack basic skills because they are products of D.C.’s schools, then return to teach in those schools if they manage to graduate.

Via NCTQ Bulletin.

‘Merit pay’ for 99% of teachers

Is it ‘merit pay’ if nearly all teachers get it? Minnesota’s Q Comp was supposed to give bonuses to the most effective teachers. But . . .

In 22 school districts whose Q Comp practices were examined by the Star Tribune, more than 99 percent of teachers in the program received merit raises during the most recent school year.

Only 27 of the roughly 4,200 teachers eligible did not get a pay raise.

Raises are based primarily on “whether teachers successfully complete evaluations and training, rather than on student performance,” reports the Star Trib.  There’s no sign that Q Comp has improved teaching or learning.

Via NCTQ Bulletin.