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Coordination Between Teacher Prep Programs, Districts Can Help Improve Teacher Quality, Expert Says

Coordination Between Teacher Prep Programs and Districts Can Help Improve Teacher Quality, Expert Says

In order to improve educational outcomes, many experts frequently seek ways to improve teacher quality. This includes fixing teacher incentive programs (lest we forget about the $10,000 bonuses in Florida based on teachers' SAT scores), reinvigorating teacher preparation programs, implementing big policy changes and more.

Harvard professor Jal Mehta and his team set out to sift through the clutter of ideas and find meaningful ways to improve teacher quality. In order to do so, Mehta and his team spent time talking with 30 different schools and the corresponding administrations to publish the white paper "From Quicksand to Solid Ground: Building a Foundation to Support Quality Teaching.” said KQED.org.

First and foremost, Mehta and his team arrived at the conclusion that research into improving teaching quality needs more investment.

"The gap between research and practice means that much of what is done in the classroom is based on how things have always been done, rather than on explicit research into how we learn," the article said.

But on a more interesting note, Mehta and his team found a misalignment when it came to what was being taught in teacher preparation programs versus what districts expected teachers to be learning.

"...Mehta says the real trouble lies in the misalignment between what happens in preparation programs and at the district level. Mehta and his team interviewed both sides and found that districts were frustrated that new teachers didn’t have the practical skills they needed for the classroom," the article said.

"Conversely, teacher preparation programs are frustrated that districts don’t use the higher order thinking skills emphasized in their programs, effectively undoing their training."

Mehta says that in order for teacher quality to truly improve, teacher preparation programs and districts need to be on the same page for what is expected from quality teachers.

More predictably, Mehta and his team found that professional development for teachers is also severely lacking, providing teachers with largely ineffective development tools and sessions.

"All these problems are exacerbated by the lack of sanctioned time teachers have to seek out the most up to date research, talk and plan with colleagues and workshop difficulties going on in the classroom. These practices don’t support the growth of knowledge in schools," the article said.

Read more here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

10/13/2015

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