Yesterday psychologist Daniel T. Willingham wrote an op-ed in the New York Times about teacher preparation. The main idea is one that’s been circulated in the education policy space before: teacher preparation programs need to better prepare teacher candidates for the realities of teaching. Willingham’s solutions—to evaluate teacher training by testing teachers and to use existing research to generate a list of things that teachers ought to know—focus only on teacher preparation inputs, but the complicated landscape requires a comprehensive reform approach that recognizes both inputs and outputs.
Willingham put his recommendations in stark contrast with recent efforts to hold teacher preparation programs accountable based on multiple outcome-based measures. These measures include program graduates’ teaching effectiveness through student growth data or teacher evaluation scores; placement in high-need subjects and schools; satisfaction with program quality; and employer satisfaction with teacher candidate training, among others. Rather than holding preparation programs accountable for measures that show how teachers perform on the job, Willingham proposes that programs should only be responsible for things that happen before teacher candidates graduate.
He is not alone. Continue reading
Today’s New York Times piece on teacher shortages in California and nationally sounds many of the same themes as our recent Bellwether report on teacher preparation in California.
Unfortunately, it also reflects the same problematic frame for thinking about teacher preparation that the report argues contributes to poor preparation and teacher shortages. Continue reading
Could tackling California’s teacher shortage also increase the state’s teacher diversity? It’s no secret there are vast race differences between California’s students and teachers. More than half of K-12 students in the state are Latino or Hispanic, but less than one in five teachers share their racial/ethnic background. This is troublesome because teacher diversity matters: Diverse teachers may provide more culturally relevant instruction and could have a greater impact on improving academic outcomes for students of color.
Source: DataQuest, California Department of Education, http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/. Continue reading
North Carolina has a new “Educator Quality Dashboard” with some fascinating data on teacher preparation in the state. I dug in and found 4 key takeaways for future teachers:
1. When you graduate matters, but maybe not as much as you think. There’s no question that there are better and worse years to become a teacher. The education profession is not immune to larger economic forces, and, just like with all other employers, school districts don’t hire as many teachers during recessions. The effects linger, but in North Carolina at least, it’s not as bad as you might imagine. Continue reading