NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teacher Preparation Education Programs Need Reform

April 30, 2013

For the last few decades, teacher preparation programs in higher education have received considerable criticism for the poor quality teachers that enter the teaching force. CEOs, a few college deans and even Arne Duncan, the Obama administration's secretary of education, have all criticized the 1,450 schools, colleges and departments of education that fail to produce teachers who can make a difference in the classroom. Education schools don't give teachers the tools they need, says Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality.

  • The teacher preparation field is highly heterogeneous, meaning that the curriculum varies wildly from institution to institution.
  • Of the 1,450 schools offering teacher prep degrees, half are not accredited and thus they answer to no one.
  • Many of the schools are filled with educators who do not train their teachers, but prepare them, essentially endowing recent education graduates with soft skills that do not reflect the reality of the 21st century classroom.

Modern teacher preparation in education schools is focused on encouraging each teacher to develop his or her own unique philosophy and style of teaching. Through journal keeping and in-class dialogues, many teachers are taught that they are activists for social justice.

  • By emphasizing teacher formation over teaching training, methods classes meant to impart specific teaching skills instead become exercises in developing core beliefs and creating the identities of the students and teachers.
  • Instead of imparting actual skills, like building lesson plans or maintaining control of the class, young teacher candidates are left to develop these skills for themselves after they graduate and enter the classroom.
  • Not training teachers in scientifically-proven reading instruction methods affects elementary school children's ability to read well and achieve success later in their school career.

Source: Kate Walsh, "21st Century Teacher Education," Education Next, Summer 2013.


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