$40 million is a terrible thing to waste...

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When I was a college student (just two years ago), I always hated the once-a-semester trek to the bookstore to buy textbooks. What an expensive shopping trip that was (and I didn't even get to buy new shoes)! I couldn't help thinking about this when reading a new report released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) that says teacher candidates spend $40 million on textbooks each year, a big portion of which goes for books that fail to teach the most basic, research-proven instructional strategies teachers need.

Over the last few decades, our knowledge of human learning has grown enormously. In 2007, the research arm of the US Department of Education, the Institute for Education Sciences, released a report that identified practical, research-proven strategies teachers can use to help children learn and retain what they are taught.

NCTQ's study, Learning About Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs To Know, looked to see how much these strategies are the focus of current teacher preparation textbooks. The results were depressing.

In fact, the NCTQ experts weren't able to identify a single textbook, in a sample of 48, that would be suitable for teaching this essential group of strategies. The majority of texts adequately cover only a single strategy. None covers more than two!

Given the study also found that what's in the textbook largely drives what gets taught in class, doing some research about the textbooks used in the teacher prep programs you're considering makes good sense. It could help you choose a program that will do a better job of teaching you what you need to know so that both you AND your future students are successful.

We'll have a lot more to say about this subject in the coming months. In the meantime, check out the list of texts here and see how we've rated them.

Check back next time for a post about the strategies we studied in this report. You might be able to put some into practice at your internship!