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Obama Plans to Hold Teacher Prep Programs Accountable

Obama Plans to Hold Teacher Prep Programs Accountable

The Obama Administration plans to develop a new system to better prepare aspiring teachers going into the profession. Teachers have complained that training programs have not adequately prepared them for the challenges that come with teaching in a diverse classrom--for example, handling students with different abilities or needs, said an article in The New York Times

This is the second time, according to the article, that the department has tried to regulate teacher preparation. Two years ago, the administration attempted to require increased reporting and accountability on the part of teacher prep programs, but negotiators could not agree on rules, and the program stalled. 

"We have about 1,400 schools of education and hundreds and hundred of alternative certification paths, and nobody in this country can tell anybody which is more effective than the other," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "When I talk to teachers and have a very candid conversation, they feel they weren't prepared."

An estimated 1.6 million teachers are expected to retire this decade, reports The Washington Post. Duncan said his agency plans to "weed out" the weak teachers and support quality training programs.

"Programs that are producing teachers where students are less successful, they either need to change or do something else, go out of business," he said in the article

A 2013 National Council on Teacher Quality review of 2,420 teacher preparation programs found that less than a quarter provided concrete strategies for managing students in a classroom, said The Times. The review also found most programs failed to guarantee that teacher candidates would be placed with skilled teachers during their student teaching internships. 

By the summer, the administration plans to propose rules for evaulating whether individual training programs are adequate, according to The New York Times. The system will use metrics such as the placement of graduates in schools, passing rates on licensing exams, teacher retention rates and job performance ratings of teachers. The administration has also proposed a requirement that training programs release evaluation data of their graduates' performance in the classroom. Currently, 43 states have agreed with the Department of Education to develop a teacher performance rating system. 

The administration's plans do not include any additional federal money. There is about $100 million in existing funding for teacher preparation programs. 

Education leaders have welcomed the focus on teacher preparation programs, but believe this should have been done sooner. Charles Barone, policy director for Democrats for Education Reform, said the current process is the equivalent of trying to cure people of a disease versus attempting to prevent the disease in the first place. 

"We're putting a lot of money in the evaluation of teachers who never had any business getting into the profession anyway," he said. "We're remediating and telling them things to do that they should have been told in their teacher prep programs. They were cheated. It's not fair to anybody."

Take a look at the White House's press release on its plan to improve teacher preparation. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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