The National Council on Teacher Quality has just released its second annual report of undergraduate and graduate teacher training programs. Connecticut does not fare well. The report states, “Among the 17 Connecticut programs that were fully evaluated, two elementary and three secondary programs were strong enough to receive a national ranking. Twelve programs in Connecticut did not receive a numeric rank because their performance was in the bottom half of the national sample.”
These results are unacceptable! Despite attempts to upgrade teacher training and performance, attempts to attract the best and brightest to the profession have been unsuccessful thus far. The president of the NCTE bluntly states, “The dearth of high-quality programs is a national problem that public school educators, state policymakers and advocates, working alongside higher education, must solve together.”
Many people don’t view teaching as a profession. Whereas law and medicine attract only students in the top percentiles of their undergraduate majors, education accepts those in the bottom half of the class. Regarding selectivity of candidates: ”Only the undergraduate elementary and secondary programs at Eastern Connecticut State University select candidates above the 50th percentile in the population of college-attending high school graduates, a relatively modest bar compared to what other high-performing nations require.” Fewer than half of the education programs in the state require student teaching under the direction of a master teacher. And those who do student-teach receive no feedback regarding classroom management.
Furthermore, regarding elementary content preparation: “No programs in Connecticut were found to meet this (national) standard.” The results for secondary level teacher preparation weren’t much better, with only “17 percent of programs fully meeting the standard, compared to the national average of 35 percent.”
Where are the specific strategies for improvement? How can Common Core be expected to improve education when teacher training remains below standard?