No room at the inn for student teachers

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Last week we asked "where, oh where will all the student teachers go?"  Well, if they're in Tennessee, they can cross Williamson County's schools off their list of potential placements. Teachers and principals cite the demands of Tennessee's new evaluation system as the reason they will no longer accept student teachers from nearby Vanderbilt University and Belmont University— at least not in tested grades or subjects.  With 35 percent of Tennessee teachers' evaluations tied to test scores, teachers say they simply cannot afford to bring student teachers into their classrooms and risk poor evaluations.

This is a troubling development for teacher candidates at Vanderbilt and Belmont, but it also spells trouble for the rest of the state's teacher prep programs if other districts follow suit. 

So what can be done to fix the situation?  As a pioneer in teacher evaluation systems and a Race to the Top winner, it's unlikely that Tennessee will significantly scale back its plans.  But maybe if Vanderbilt and Belmont ensure that every teacher candidate is top-notch and classroom-ready, they can convince enough teachers to let student teachers back in the door.

Marisa Goldstein