Education Preparation and Training Pales by Comparison

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The Finance Project, a DC group dedicated to producing decision-making that sustains good results for children, families and communities, is out with an interesting new report comparing professional preparation and training for teachers to the practices in six other fields. The comparison fields include four mostly private sector jobs (law, accounting, architecture and nursing), and two public sector jobs (firefighting and law enforcement).

The study reveals that the four private sector fields have more uniform standards for entry into the field than does teaching. For example, accountants, architects, nurses and lawyers (in a multi-state component of the bar exam) must pass a single national exam prior to licensure. Unlike these fields, teaching allows individuals to practice prior to obtaining licensure.

Moreover, the clinical experience of student teaching is markedly less structured and less consistently supervised than the experiences required in the other fields. For instance, licensure in architecture typically requires candidates to spend three years after graduating from a preparation program working under direct supervision of a licensed architect before taking the licensing exam. Nurses typically complete 600 to 700 hours of training during their degree programs. This is compared to teaching, where the requirements for student teaching vary from as few as forty-five hours in some states such as Oklahoma, to as much as 450 hours in others such as Maryland and Colorado.

While some of the comparisons are a bit of a stretch given the nature of the fields included in the study, it's still a worthwhile read and a valuable contribution to an area of study we know much too little about.