According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, newly graduated teachers are not prepared for the complicated world they are about to be dumped into. The group’s review found the overwhelming majority of schools do not prepare their students for today’s classrooms.
The Council conducted an “exhaustive and unprecedented examination” of education programs. It said they “have become an industry of mediocrity, churning out first-year teachers” without classroom management skills or content knowledge.
The United States spends $7 billion a year preparing classroom teachers. Training programs, primarily colleges and universities, produced triple the number of education graduates needed last year. But they still failed to produce sufficient high quality teachers.
The review examined school of education admission standards and training, identifying 18 standards. The Council spent eight years refining the standards, using 10 pilot studies to make certain the criteria were fair but tough. The study concluded: “A vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not give aspiring teachers adequate return on their investment of time and tuition dollars.”
Typical college education programs include basic teaching classes and training in child development and psychology. They also address how to use technology and how to navigate the education policy environment. Students complete one semester of student teaching in a classroom, where they are supposed to gain the real-world experience they need.
Everyone agrees that poorly equipped teachers can hurt students. “There's plenty of research out there that shows that teacher quality is the single most important factor,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. But debate continues about how to find and keep good teachers.
The Council argues that the root of the problem is loose admissions standards for education programs, and that it should be more difficult for students to get into teacher preparation programs in the first place.
Michael Petrilli, a vice president at the Fordham Institute, agrees: “You just have to have a pulse and you can get into some of these education schools. … If policymakers took this report seriously, they’d be shutting down hundreds of programs.”