No need to reinvent the wheel

pushing a boulder photo

Geez this boulder is heavy; give me a hand!
(Photo by Kris Bradley)

For a bit over a year, the National Council on
Teacher Quality has been engaging in a mammoth undertaking: to dive behind the
Oz-like curtain and collect data on the efficacy and rigor of each and every
one of America’s teacher-preparation programs—difficult not only because of the
size of the dataset but also because of resistance to such data collection.
Slews of education schools have refused to participate in the survey (the
University of Wisconsin, all of Georgia’s public institutions, and New York’s
SUNY system come to mind). But let that be no hindrance to Arne Duncan, who
announced last week a
new federal plan
to improve teacher-preparation programs. The initiative
will center upon three axes: The first will support states as they collect data
on training-program quality (based on job placement, a survey of program
graduates, and the value-add that alum contribute to student achievement). The
second will seek to revamp the TEACH grant program, providing scholarships to
strong teacher candidates while also monetarily supporting states that develop
rigorous teacher-training systems. And the last will kick in funds to support
minority-serving institutions. While mending America’s broken teacher-prep
system is an admirable goal, Duncan would be better served by streamlining his
objectives. A proposal: Ditch the monetary incentives attached to the proposed, yet amorphous
“rigorous teacher-training systems.” Instead, condition receipt of these new
federal dollars on a state’s participation in NCTQ’s efforts (they’ve already
pushed this boulder halfway up the hill, and would likely appreciate some
reinforcements)—and the adoption of improved data systems.

Click to play

Click to listen to commentary on Duncan's new proposal from the Education Gadfly Show podcast.


New Path for Teacher Ed Reform,” by Allie Grasgreen, Inside
Higher Ed
, October 3, 2011.

Duncan Introduces Plan to Reform and Improve Teacher Prep,”
by Cameron Brenchley, Department of Education Blog, September 30, 2011.