Report Slams Teacher Education


There’s no doubt in my mind that being a teacher nowadays is a far more demanding and complex task than it was when I began my career over twenty years ago.

I’ve just been spending a few days travelling with a group of Malaysian educators, discussing issues associated with the professional development of teachers, and the problems associated with transforming what we do in schools in order to keep up with changes in technology, changes in student demographics and the competing interests around curriculum and measuring student achievement.

This morning I read through a news release from the Educating Schools Project which highlights findings of a major report on the state of teacher education in the United States.

The report titled Educating School Teachers begins with Majority of U.S. Teachers Prepared in Lower Quality Programs; Report Issues Recommendations to Reform What It Calls the “Wild West” of Teacher Education.

The release contains some challenging statements, including:

Despite growing evidence of the importance of quality teaching, the vast majority of the nation’s teachers are prepared in programs that have low admission and graduation standards and cling to an outdated vision of teacher education,

, and..

{The report} identifies several model programs but finds that most education schools are engaged in a “pursuit of irrelevance,” with curriculums in disarray and faculty disconnected from classrooms and colleagues. These schools have “not kept pace with changing demographics, technology, global competition, and pressures to raise student achievement.

A list of woes that resonate with what I see in NZ is identified, including low admission standards, lack of quality control, and a huge variability in the amount of time spent in practicums, some as low as 30 hours.

The report includes a comprehensive action plan to improve teacher education in America. Recommendations include:

  • Transforming education schools into professional schools focused on classroom practice.
  • Closing failing programs, expanding quality programs, and creating the equivalent of a Rhodes Scholarship to attract the best and brightest to teaching.
  • Making student achievement the primary measure of the success of teacher education programs to gauge student progress from the start of school through graduation and to judge the quality of education schools by the performance of their graduates in promoting student achievement in their classrooms.
  • Making five-year teacher education programs the norm and designing them to ensure that students have an enriched major in an academic subject area rather than a watered-down version of the traditional undergraduate concentration.
  • Shifting the training of a significant percentage of new teachers from master’s degree granting-institutions to research universities.
  • Strengthening quality control by redesigning accreditation and by encouraging states to establish common, outcomes based requirements for certification and licensure.

I’d suspect that if similar research was done in most areas of the world, including NZ, we’d find similar things. Perhaps it’s time to establish a global “best practice in teacher education” exchange where experiences can be shared from some of the “break the mold” programmes from around, such as one at Southern Oregon University that I have visited where the entire programme is based on an action research model.

Seems to me that the huge amount of effort and expenditure that is going into teacher professional development int he moment needs to be matched by what is happening in our pre-service programmes so that we’re not continually addressing the “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff” situation that we’re creating for ourselves.

One thought on “Report Slams Teacher Education

  1. Thank you for this very useful post. The importance of improving teacher education is to be understood by all governments

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