On July 21, the National Council on Teacher Quality released a report titled “Student Teaching in the United States,” which examined 134 student teaching programs across the country and concluded that three-quarters of them did not meet five basic standards for high quality.
Three-Quarters Of Programs Do Not Meet Standards
Specifically, the report concluded that the schools differed so widely in their curricula, methods of assessment, and graduation requirements that it was impossible to know with any degree of certainty if students were being well educated. Although powerful changes were transforming some schools, the outlook was utterly hopeless for two-thirds of them.
Schools of education are understandably furious at these findings, especially since the group plans to give them letter grades that would appear in U.S. News and World Report. When the U.S. News rankings are published, the student-teaching programs will count for one-fifth to one-third of an education school’s grade, according to Kate Walsh, president of the council.
A Lack Of Program Standards
From The New York Times:
“Many people would say student teaching is the most important piece of teacher preparation,” Ms. Walsh said. “But the field is really barren in the area of standards. The basic accrediting body doesn’t even have a standard for how long a student teacher needs to be in the classroom. And most of the institutions we reviewed do not do enough to screen the quality of the cooperating teacher the student will work with.”
Even if the findings are open to question, the fact is that student teaching is the single most valuable part of teacher preparation. So it seems like an excellent idea to ask what can be done to remove any doubts about the quality of existing programs.
Should Ed. Schools Be More Like Med. Schools?
Walt Gardner, writing in Education Week, suggests that schools of education should be more like medical schools in their approach to training, although he goes on to give various reasons why it’s impossible for this transformation to take place.
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