States need to zoom in on teacher prep

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Consider current state standards for teacher preparation and licensing:  

  • The majority of states (32) have no requirements for assessing teacher proficiency in the science of reading.
  • Just two states in the nation—Indiana and Massachusetts—require adequate mathematics preparation for would-be elementary school teachers.
  • Thirty-five states allow special education teachers to earn a completely generic special education license to teacher any special education student in any grade, K-12.
  • The passing scores set by states for teacher licensing tests basically offer a free pass to teach, at least with regard to content knowledge.

For all the energy going into scrutinizing the effectiveness of the current teacher workforce, there is a stunning lack of attention among states to their best option for ensuring more effective teachers: setting higher expectations for what it takes to become a teacher in the first place. 

See NCTQ's 2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook for more on state teacher preparation and licensing (for which states earned an overall score of D, the lowest of any teacher policy area grades.)