We need to figure out a better way to support and develop teachers. They have a really important, really tough job, and we’re not giving them enough meaningful training and support. Everyone in this conversation generally agrees on that.
And now the U.S. Department of Education has turned its focus to improving that support beginning at what is essentially day one: the day that an aspiring teacher enrolls in a college of education.
The feds announced the new initiative on Tuesday, and a story by the Wall Street Journal’s Carrie Porter calls out one of the main reasons behind the push: Much like the Widget Effect that existed on teacher performance, there’s no good way for aspiring teachers to determine the quality of the programs they’re considering as their foundational training and preparation for the classroom.
A 2013 federal report on teacher quality concluded that states had classified just nine programs of about 2,100 as low-performing in 2011.
In the past 12 years, 34 states have never identified a teacher preparation program as low-performing.
A Myriad of Metrics
The proposed rating system would use a variety of metrics—such as job-placement rates of the college’s graduates and the academic performance of the students the graduates go on to teach—and would tie federal grants to the college’s performance.
The Department of Education’s proposal now enters the feedback phase, and the soonest the new regulations would be issued is September of 2015.
And Porter—acknowledging whose feedback is most important—includes some from a teacher in her story:
Jacob Pactor, a 32-year-old English teacher at an urban high school near Indianapolis, said more transparency would help aspiring teachers choose the best training program. “They don’t do a good enough job telling people what it is going to be like or actually preparing them for what the world needs,” he said.