Review of teacher preparation programs needs improvement

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The AFT is disappointed that, for something as important as strengthening teacher preparation programs, the National Council on Teacher Quality chose to use the gimmick of a four-star rating system without using professionally accepted standards, visiting any of the institutions or talking with any of the graduates, AFT president Randi Weingarten says.

"Best-of and worst-of lists always garner attention, so we understand why NCTQ would use that device," she says. "While its 'do not enter' consumer alerts will make the intended splash, it's hard to see how it will help strengthen teacher preparation programs or elevate the teaching profession.

"We need a systemic approach to improving teacher preparation programs and ensuring that every teacher is ready to teach. The AFT has called for, and is working to advance, this vision, including a rigorous entry assessment, or bar-like exam, centered on subject and pedagogical knowledge and demonstration of teaching performance. (Read the AFT's report, "Raising the Bar: Aligning and Elevating Teacher Preparation and the Teaching Profession.")

"NCTQ's report identifies areas that the AFT agrees need attention and improvement, including helping prospective educators with early reading instruction in the context of the Common Core State Standards, work effectively with English language learners, and become proficient in assessment literacy. However, we would prefer to collaborate on professional ownership of, and solutions to, these problems instead of talking about a punitive approach to shame and blame institutions.

"While we agree with NCTQ on the need to improve teacher preparation, it would be more productive to focus on developing a consistent, systemic approach to lifting the teaching profession instead of resorting to attention-grabbing consumer alerts based on incomplete standards."

Read the NCTQ report, Teacher Prep Review. [AFT press release]

June 18, 2013