NEA and TFA Agree – Teacher Preparation Needs an Overhaul

October 3rd, 2011

Category: News, Policy and Practice

Last Friday, Secretary Arne Duncan unveiled his plan for teacher education reform and improvement in America’s schools at an Education Sector event.  Secretary Duncan was joined by NEA president Dennis Van Roekel and Teach for America founder and CEO Wendy Kopp, both of whom endorsed the plan and gave their thoughts on educator preparation reform.

Highlights from Secretary Duncan’s plan include:

  • USED will help states and institutions collect data, including student achievement growth linking to teacher prep programs, job placement and retention rates of graduates, and surveys of program graduates and their principals;
  • The current TEACH grant will be revised into the “Presidential Teaching Fellows” that will award up to $10,000 to high-achieving college students in their final year; and
  • The Hawkins Centers for Excellence Program will launch in order to direct money to minority-serving institutions, in an attempt to increase diversity among America’s teachers.

The proposed changes align well with many policies and practices we’ve advocated for previously – with a particular focus on holding schools of education accountable for results – which the state promised in our winning Race to the Top application.  Teachers should be excited that they will have more information on programs that will better prepare them for the rigors of the classroom, particularly since over half don’t feel ready to step in today.

Rodel has always been in support of higher standards for teachers, both at the point of entry into preparation programs as well as before being certified and licensed to teach. Last year, the National Council on Teacher Quality released a report grading each state on the quality of the teacher policies. Delaware received a “D” overall, and an “F” in the area of “delivering well prepared teachers” (most states fared just as poorly or worse).

Simply having the data about the effectiveness of the teachers that graduate from teacher programs will be an important first step in making sure only the qualified and best are allowed to teach our kids. It is clear that this is a major issue, both nationally and in Delaware, and we join education stakeholders across the country in applauding USED’s plan, eager to get to work.

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Brian Yin