Conference Breaks New Ground

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The American Enterprise Institute, Progressive Policy Institute and the National Council on Teacher Quality held an important conference last week on ways to improve teacher preparation and licensure. The conference was lively, informative, and thought-provoking. If you weren't able to attend, however, you can learn much of the gist of what was said by logging onto AEI's conference website. When you get there, you will have access to the full text of all of the papers that were presented at the conference.

While all the papers are worth a read, one paper delivered by Vanderbilt professor David Steiner elicited quite a stir among the crowd. Professor Steiner sought to create a better understanding of the content of educational school curricula. He collected syllabi from over 200 courses from the 30 most elite schools of education. Analyzing the syllabi for content in each of four areas reading instruction, math instruction, foundations of education, and student teaching he found strong evidence that schools of education were uneven at best, negligent at worst. Professors, instead of preparing their students for the world of performance-based assessment and content-rich curricula, "teach a profound suspicion for that world." Although there are bright spots like the impact of the movement towards clear national standards in mathematics, overall, ed programs need to focus far more on measures of effectives: are children learning and how can the teacher show evidence of that?

This paper is a must-read.