Now teacher prep in California can do more with more

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Good news from California. Back in February, state senator Alex Padilla introduced legislation to overturn the 43 year-old Ryan Act that restricted education coursework, including student teaching, to a single academic year. This week, Governor Brown signed Padilla's legislation into law, thereby giving the Golden State's ed schools the opportunity to once again offer graduate programs with a full two years of professional coursework.

The stated rationale behind the legislation was that one year was not enough to give teacher candidates the training they needed to teach English Language Learners and students with special needs. But as we found in the Teacher Prep Review, the one-year limit on professional coursework made it virtually impossible for California elementary programs, which are generally one-year post-bac programs, to train teachers in the fundamentals they needed for all groups of students. As a result, 45 of the 71 elementary programs we rated earned zero stars.

The legislation enables institutions to make necessary changes, but it doesn't necessarily spell the end for the one-year programs that are so problematic. Post-bac programs are an easier sell on their face to aspiring teachers because they are relatively inexpensive. And institutions offering two year programs will have to make a clear case to aspiring teachers as to why the second year of coursework will add value. But at least now leaders of California's teacher preparation programs have the chance to do what's right by their candidates and the state's students. Future editions of the Teacher Prep Review will track the extent they seize this opportunity.