Moving Forward on Teacher Preparation
Every year, the National Center for Teacher Quality (NCTQ) publishes a report card on the fifty states’ public school teacher policies. This year’s report focused on teacher preparation. And this year, Delaware scored a D-. Although NCTQ gave the entire country a D+, we as a state have room to make improvements. At the same time, Delaware is making strides to address the opportunities that NCTQ identified.
Among the points described in the report, two were of great significance to the state and the teaching profession:
- Improve admission into preparation programs by requiring that programs screen candidates prior to admission
- Improve teacher preparation program accountability by setting minimum standards for program performance with consequences for failure to meet standards
The good news is that Delaware is working to address these issues. In Governor Markell’s State of the State, he announced that the Secretary will be working with the institutes of higher education to increase the admission standards into preparation programs. This idea is nothing new—some of the top performing countries in the world, such as Finland, have extraordinarily rigorous entry requirements, making sure that top talent enter the pipeline. In Finland, for example, only admits the top 10 percent of their high school graduating classes; Hong Kong and Singapore admit the top 30 percent of their high school graduating classes.
Improving teacher preparation program accountability is another area where Delaware is positioning itself to make strong, sustainable change. In the Governor’s address, he declared his strong desire for rigorous teacher prep exit exam, which includes demonstration of content knowledge as well as teaching skills. This idea was recently described by Randi Weingarten, in her Raising the Bar report, and has received a lot of national publicity, having it be referred to as a teacher “bar exam.”
Moving forward on teacher preparation admissions and pre-service assessment will ensure that our state is producing the best and brightest future teachers. The NCTQ report underscores the need for all the key stakeholders—the Governor’s office, the Delaware Department of Education, teacher preparation programs, and school leaders—to work together to ensure we provide Delaware’s students with great teachers and leaders in every classroom. And based on a recent report in The News Journal, all of these stakeholders are already on the path to assure that Delaware’s teacher preparation programs produce the most competent, highly qualified, classroom-ready teachers in the country.