January 30, 2013

New report asks: How is your state doing on teacher prep?

Last Wednesday, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its 2012 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, which compares teacher preparation programs across states.

The biggest takeaways:

Good News: 14 states improved their teacher preparation policies compared to last year, and many states are doing better at identifying effective teachers and providing support for developing teachers.

Bad News: Most states aren’t setting teachers up for success and need to dramatically improve the quality of their preparation programs.

According to NCTQ, fixing teacher preparation would require:

  • Creating higher standards for admission into teacher prep programs, and holding them accountable
  • Ensuring candidates for teaching have rigorous knowledge of subjects they’ll teach;
  • Providing candidates for teaching with high-quality student teaching experiences;
  • Setting up more policies to allow for alternative certification.

6 Steps to Successful Teacher Prep:

We like how NCTQ broke down teacher preparation policy improvements into six areas:

  1. Raise admission standards – making sure that teacher prep programs admit candidates with strong academic records, and that admissions tests are at college-level.
  2. Align teacher preparation with Common Core State Standards – requiring teacher prep curriculum that prepares teachers more effectively in literacy and mathematics
  3. Improve clinical preparation – providing at least 10 weeks of student-teaching experience, with mentor teachers who have demonstrated effectiveness themselves.
  4. Raise licensing standards – with subject-matter testing for middle and high school teacher candidates.
  5. Don’t lower the bar for special education teachers;
  6. Hold teacher preparation programs accountable.

Who’s doing well?

Massachusetts was noted for consistently having a reliable math content test for teacher candidates, which 11 other states now have.

Alabama, Florida, Indiana, and Tennessee earned the highest marks for setting admission standards and requiring teacher prep programs to provide teaching candidates with support.

Connecticut, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont adopted several new teacher preparation requirements, such as requiring that all elementary teachers pass the Praxis II: Elementary Education Multiple Subjects Test.

A pressing issue

With renewed calls for teacher preparation improvements – like the call for a “bar exam for teachers” from Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers – learn more about the conversation by reading NCTQ’s national summary, its state reports, or a McKinsey report on how other countries do this well.