Filling the ed school glass

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It is certainly no secret that NCTQ thinks too many new teachers enter their classrooms woefully unprepared by their training programs.  We are not alone in this view: traditional education schools—the trainers for the overwhelming majority of new teachers—have few friends in the reform community.  But while many see the ed school glass as so far beyond half empty that the remnants should be dumped and the glass thrown away, we think that glass—while maybe considerably less than half full—needs to be filled to the very brim.

In a recent post on his Dropout Nation blog, RiShawn Biddle lays out the case for all that ails ed schools and concludes "one can dare argue that there is almost no reason for ed schools to exist." But our conclusion is just the opposite: current teacher preparation may not matter very much, but it should.

Consider the 18 standards  that make up NCTQ's national review of preparation programs.  Shouldn't new teachers know how to teach young children to read?  The fundamentals of assessment?  How to effectively teach English language learners? How to manage a group of children to focus on academics?

Reforming teacher training should not take as given that teachers must start their careers without these skills, especially when such an alternative will disproportionately impact disadvantaged kids, who are more likely to have inexperienced teachers. We need programs that offer prospective teachers the time and support to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to be effective.  Teacher preparation done well can and should add real value.

Sandi Jacobs