A Fix for Teacher Education: the 3-Year Degree

Leah Wasburn-Moses:

“An Industry of Mediocrity”–The Chronicle of Higher Education
“Teacher Training’s Low Grade”–The Wall Street Journal
“Are Teacher Prep Programs Worth the Money?” ­–Marketplace
Headlines were unanimous after the June release of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s national study of teacher-preparation programs. The study’s conclusions were precisely what the public had expected, bolstered by decades of critiques all adding up to the same conclusion: Teacher education is broken. Fortunately, there is a solution that can produce better teachers and do it faster and at less cost.
In the past, education schools were seen as the proverbial stepchild of higher education–a poor fit with the “more rigorous” academic disciplines, singled out for criticism, lowest on the scales of pay and prestige. These days, though, the criticisms leveled at teacher education have begun to resemble those aimed at higher education over all, including that it is too expensive and ineffective.
For example, a four- or even five-year education degree costs the same as other degrees, yet our field has failed to show that teachers who have these degrees are any more effective in the classroom than those licensed through alternative programs, or (in some cases) those who enter teaching with minimal preparation. Programs like Teach for America have capitalized on this point to their great advantage.

Related: The National Council on teacher quality recently rated teacher preparation programs.