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Former Education Secretary Delivers Scathing Critique of Teacher Preparation Programs

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan has delivered in his open letter to America's college presidents and education college deans for the Brookings Institute a scathing critique of teacher preparation programs—and argues that change needs to happen in order to create the quality teachers the country needs.

The "system we have for training teachers lacks rigor, is out of step with the times, and is given to extreme grade inflation that leaves teachers unprepared and their future students at risk. According to a 2014 report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), many of our biggest teacher training programs are twice as likely to graduate students with honors than other programs in the same academic settings,” Duncan said.

And this is not because graduates from teaching programs are automatically superior students, Duncan argues.

"The NCTQ report also looks at rigor and concludes that many of our teacher training programs are simply not giving our future teachers the training they need. Assignments are often vague and grading the results is extremely subjective. Too often, teachers in training are asked to share their philosophy about teaching certain kinds of kids but they are not asked to show specifics,” he writes.

Systemic change needs to happen, he says, in order for teacher preparation as a sector to improve.

"We owe it to [students] to challenge our future teachers. We should ensure that they’re held to high standards like engineering, business, and medical students, and we should only be giving the best grades to those teacher candidates who are most prepared for the classroom. The path to change begins with the will to change. And that starts with you.”

Duncan stepped down from his post as Education Secretary after seven years in the position in December of 2015 and now works as a managing partner for the Emerson Collective to continue his work in education.

Read his full post.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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