Within Our Grasp: Achieving Higher Admissions Standards in Teacher Prep

National Council on Teacher Quality:

No parent wants his or her child to be taught by an ineffective teacher. As the school year begins each September, parents sometimes worry that their child’s teacher may not be able to manage the classroom, may not be able to inspire students to reach higher levels of learning, or simply may not be up to the job. These worries grow when a teacher is new to the classroom, teaching without the bene t of a few years of experience. The responsibility for these worries often falls on a state’s teacher preparation programs, so it is crucial that the programs set high standards to admit only the best candidates.

A strong body of research supports a relationship between student performance and the selectivity of admissions into teacher preparation. Nations, such as Finland, whose students outperform ours on national tests recruit teacher candidates from the top 10 percent of their college graduates. High admissions standards are especially important because after a candidate is admitted to a preparation program, he or she will probably face few hurdles for entry into the profession.

State admissions standards rose between 2011 and 2015 and fell in 2016
Raising the bar for entry into preparation programs resonates with states and school districts, which certainly recognize the importance of attracting talented college students into the teaching profession. As a result, 25 states strengthened admissions standards between 2011 and 2015, with 11 states establishing higher admissions standards through state law and 14 states doing so through national accreditation. The number of states establishing a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement went from seven in 2013 to 25 in 2015, and the number requiring that teacher candidates take tests designed for all college students (such as the ACT or SAT) went from three to 19 during that same time. While both approaches have advantages and limitations, some states have put forward admissions policies that employ multiple measures and exibility.