NCTQ report; online parent discussion group; congratulations

Wisconsin Reading Coalition: A new report has been released by the National Council on Teacher Quality: Learning About Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know. In terms of instructional strategies that help students learn and retain new concepts, a lot was found missing from textbooks currently used to train teachers. The Learning Difference Network … Continue reading NCTQ report; online parent discussion group; congratulations

NCTQ Unveils ‘Consumer’s Guide’ to Colleges of Education

Stephen Sawchuck: The National Council on Teacher Quality has unveiled Path to Teach, an online website billed as a consumer’s guide to colleges of education. Teacher-candidates-to-be can look up college programs and alternative programs from across the nation, comparing them by tuition costs, enrollment numbers, location, and by a quality snapshot that looks at criteria … Continue reading NCTQ Unveils ‘Consumer’s Guide’ to Colleges of Education

NCTQ Rankings of Teacher Preparation Programs: No Wisconsin schools in the top group

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: The National Council on Teacher Quality has released its second annual report on teacher preparation programs, including a numeric ranking of programs for the first time. Results show an uphill climb ahead for Wisconsin. No Wisconsin program earned the national “Top-Ranked” status, a distinction awarded to 107 programs … Continue reading NCTQ Rankings of Teacher Preparation Programs: No Wisconsin schools in the top group

Wisconsin rated D+ in NCTQ State Teacher Policy Yearbook 2013



National Council on Teacher Quality (PDF):

1. The state should require teacher candidates to pass a test of academic proficiency that assesses reading, writing and mathematics skills as a criterion for admission to teacher preparation programs.
2. All preparation programs in a state should use a common admissions test to facilitate program comparison, and the test should allow comparison of applicants to the general college-going population. The selection of applicants should be limited to the top half of that population.
Wisconsin requires that approved undergraduate teacher preparation programs only accept teacher can- didates who have passed a basic skills test, the Praxis I. Although the state sets the minimum score for this test, it is normed just to the prospective teacher population. The state also allows teacher preparation programs to exempt candidates who demonstrate equivalent performance on a college entrance exam.
Wisconsin also requires a 2.5 GPA for admission to an undergraduate program.
To promote diversity, Wisconsin allows programs to admit up to 10 percent of the total number of students admitted who have not passed the basic skills test.
RECOMMENDATION
Require all teacher candidates to pass a test of academic proficiency that assesses reading, writing and mathematics skills as a criterion for admission to teacher preparation programs.
Even though the state’s policy that permits programs to admit up to 10 percent of students who have not passed the basic skills test is part of a laudable goal to promote diversity, allowing this exemption is risky because of the low bar set by the Praxis I (see next recommendation).
Require preparation programs to use a common test normed to the general college-bound population.
Wisconsin should require an assessment that demonstrates that candidates are academically com- petitive with all peers, regardless of their intended profession. Requiring a common test normed to the general college population would allow for the selection of applicants in the top half of their class, as well as facilitate program comparison.
Consider requiring candidates to pass subject-matter tests as a condition of admission into teacher programs.
In addition to ensuring that programs require a measure of academic performance for admission, Wisconsin might also want to consider requiring content testing prior to program admission as opposed to at the point of program completion. Program candidates are likely to have completed coursework that covers related test content in the prerequisite classes required for program admis- sion. Thus, it would be sensible to have candidates take content tests while this knowledge is fresh rather than wait two years to fulfill the requirement, and candidates lacking sufficient expertise would be able to remedy deficits prior to entering formal preparation.
For admission to teacher preparation programs, Rhode Island and Delaware require a test of academic proficiency normed to the general college- bound population rather than a test that is normed just to prospective teachers. Delaware also requires teacher candidates to have a 3.0 GPA or be in the top 50th percentile for general education coursework completed. Rhode Island also requires an average cohort GPA of 3.0, and beginning in 2016, the cohort mean score on nationally-normed tests such as the ACT, SAT or GRE must be in the top 50th percentile. In 2020, the requirement for the mean test score will increase from the top half to the top third.

via a kind Wisconsin Reading Coalition email:

After receiving a grade of D in 2009 and 2001, Wisconsin has risen to a D+ on the 2013 State Teacher Policy Yearbook released by the National Council on Teacher Quality.
In the area of producing effective teachers of reading, Wisconsin received a bump up for requiring a rigorous test on the science of reading. The Foundations of Reading exam will be required beginning January 31, 2014.
Ironically, Wisconsin also scored low for not requiring teacher preparation programs to prepare candidates in the science of reading instruction. We hope that will change through the revision of the content guidelines related to elementary licensure during a comprehensive review process that is underway at DPI this winter and spring.

NCTQ 4-3-2-1 Star-Rating of University Teacher Preparation Programs in the USA: “the evaluations provide clear and convincing evidence, based on a four-star rating system, that a vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not give aspiring teachers

Kelsey Sheehy:

Teaching was once dubbed “the profession that eats its young” and many educators liken their first few years in the classroom to a hazing ritual. The result is an industry that hemorrhages new teachers nearly as fast as it can license them.

One factor feeding the high turnover rate is lack of preparation, according to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a national union representing 1.5 million educators.

Newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms … and left to see if they (and their students) sink or swim,” she wrote in a December 2012 report for the AFT. The report called for higher standards and accountability in teacher training programs.

The 2013 NCTQ Teacher Prep Ratings, released today by U.S. News, are a step in that direction.

[Read U.S. News Editor Brian Kelly’s opinion on the NCTQ ratings.]

Part of a broader effort by the National Council on Teacher Quality, the ratings are a subset of the NCTQ Teacher Prep Review, published today by the nonprofit educational research and advocacy group. The review is a 2.5-year effort to gauge the quality of the bachelor’s and master’s degree tracks required to enter the teaching profession.

The Glaring Hypocrisy of the NCTQ Teacher Prep Institution Ratings

Bruce Baker:

But, given that NCTQ has just come out with their really, really big new ratings of teacher preparation institutions… with their primary objective of declaring teacher prep by traditional colleges and universities in the U.S. a massive failure, I figured I should once again revisit why the NCTQ ratings are, in general, methodologically inept & vacuous and more specifically wholly inconsistent with NCTQ’s own primary emphasis that teacher quality and qualifications matter perhaps more than anything else in schools and classrooms.
The debate among scholars and practitioners in education as to whether a good teacher is more important than a good curriculum, or vice versa, is never-ending. Most of us who are engaged in this debate lean one way or the other. Disclosure – I lean in favor of the “good teacher” perspective. Those with labor economics background or interests tend to lean toward the good teacher importance, and perhaps those with more traditional “education” training lean toward the importance of curriculum. I’m grossly oversimplifying here (perhaps opening a can of worms that need not be opened). Clearly, both matter.
I would argue that NCTQ has historically leaned toward the idea that the “good teacher” trumps all – but for their apparent newly acquired love of the Common Core Standards.
Now here’s the thing – if the content area expertise of elementary and secondary classroom teachers and the selectivity and rigor of their preparation matters most of all – how is it that at the college and university level, faculty substantive expertise (including involvement in rigorous research pertaining to the learning sciences, and specifically pertaining to content areas) is completely irrelevant to the quality of institutions that prepare teachers? That just doesn’t make sense.

Much more, here.

NCTQ Wins Minnesota Court Battle over Open Records Access to Ed School Curriculum

National Council on Teacher Quality, via a kind email:

Yesterday, a court in Minnesota delivered a summary judgment ordering the Minnesota State Colleges and University system to deliver the documents for which we asked in our open records (“sunshine”) request for our Teacher Prep Review.
At the heart of our Teacher Prep Review is a simple idea: the more information that aspiring teachers, district and school leaders, teacher educators and the public at large have about the programs producing classroom-ready teachers, the better all teacher training programs will be.
In our effort to produce the first comprehensive review of U.S. teacher prep, we’ve faced a number of challenges — perhaps the most serious of which has been the argument made by some universities that federal copyright law makes it illegal for public institutions publicly approved to prepare public school teachers to make public documents that describe the training they provide.
We want to make sure that everyone understands what this ruling does and does not mean. The Minnesota State colleges and universities system agreed with us that the syllabi we seek are indeed public record documents. Their case came down to the claim that because the course syllabi are also the intellectual property of professors, they should not have to deliver copies of their syllabi to us.
Minnesota’s open records law, the court ruled, is clear: public institutions must make documents accessible to individuals seeking them — which includes delivering copies to them. Delivering copies of these documents to us in no way, shape or form deprives the professors who created them of their intellectual property rights. NCTQ is conducting a research study, which means that our use of these syllabi falls under the fair use provision of the copyright law. This is the exactly the same provision that enables all researchers, including teacher educators, to make copies of key documents they need to analyze to make advances in our collective knowledge.

Related:

NCTQ Sues UW Ed Schools over Access to Course Syllabi

Kate Walsh, via a kind reader’s email:

As reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Associated Press, NCTQ filed a lawsuit yesterday — a first for us — against the University of Wisconsin system.
UW campuses issued identically worded denials of our requests for course syllabi, which is one of the many sources of information we use to rate programs for the National Review of teacher preparation programs. They argue that “syllabi are not public records because they are subject to copyright” and therefore do not have to be produced in response to an open records request.
We believe that the University’s reading of the law is flawed. We are engaged in research on the quality of teacher preparation programs, and so our request falls squarely within the fair use provision of copyright law. What’s more, these documents were created at public institutions for the training of public school teachers, and so should be subject to scrutiny by the public.
You can read our complaint here.

Related Georgia, Wisconsin Education Schools Back Out of NCTQ Review

Public higher education institutions in Wisconsin and Georgia–and possibly as many as five other states–will not participate voluntarily in a review of education schools now being conducted by the National Council for Teacher Quality and U.S. News and World Report, according to recent correspondence between state consortia and the two groups.
In response, NCTQ and U.S. News are moving forward with plans to obtain the information from these institutions through open-records requests.
In letters to the two organizations, the president of the University of Wisconsin system and the chancellor of Georgia’s board of regents said their public institutions would opt out of the review, citing a lack of transparency and questionable methodology, among other concerns.
Formally announced in January, the review will rate education schools on up to 18 standards, basing the decisions primarily on examinations of course syllabuses and student-teaching manuals.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Lake Wobegon has nothing on the UW-Madison School of Education. All of the children in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town are “above average.” Well, in the School of Education they’re all A students.
The 1,400 or so kids in the teacher-training department soared to a dizzying 3.91 grade point average on a four-point scale in the spring 2009 semester.
This was par for the course, so to speak. The eight departments in Education (see below) had an aggregate 3.69 grade point average, next to Pharmacy the highest among the UW’s schools. Scrolling through the Registrar’s online grade records is a discombobulating experience, if you hold to an old-school belief that average kids get C’s and only the really high performers score A’s.
Much like a modern-day middle school honors assembly, everybody’s a winner at the UW School of Education. In its Department of Curriculum and Instruction (that’s the teacher-training program), 96% of the undergraduates who received letter grades collected A’s and a handful of A/B’s. No fluke, another survey taken 12 years ago found almost exactly the same percentage.

Georgia, Wisconsin Education Schools Back Out of NCTQ Review

Stephen Sawchuk, via a kind reader’s email:

Public higher education institutions in Wisconsin and Georgia–and possibly as many as five other states–will not participate voluntarily in a review of education schools now being conducted by the National Council for Teacher Quality and U.S. News and World Report, according to recent correspondence between state consortia and the two groups.
In response, NCTQ and U.S. News are moving forward with plans to obtain the information from these institutions through open-records requests.
In letters to the two organizations, the president of the University of Wisconsin system and the chancellor of Georgia’s board of regents said their public institutions would opt out of the review, citing a lack of transparency and questionable methodology, among other concerns.
Formally announced in January, the review will rate education schools on up to 18 standards, basing the decisions primarily on examinations of course syllabuses and student-teaching manuals.
The situation is murkier in New York, Maryland, Colorado, and California, where public university officials have sent letters to NCTQ and U.S. News requesting changes to the review process, but haven’t yet declined to take part willingly.
In Kentucky, the presidents, provosts, and ed. school deans of public universities wrote in a letter to the research and advocacy group and the newsmagazine that they won’t “endorse” the review. It’s not yet clear what that means for their participation.

Related: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?:

Lake Wobegon has nothing on the UW-Madison School of Education. All of the children in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town are “above average.” Well, in the School of Education they’re all A students.
The 1,400 or so kids in the teacher-training department soared to a dizzying 3.91 grade point average on a four-point scale in the spring 2009 semester.
This was par for the course, so to speak. The eight departments in Education (see below) had an aggregate 3.69 grade point average, next to Pharmacy the highest among the UW’s schools. Scrolling through the Registrar’s online grade records is a discombobulating experience, if you hold to an old-school belief that average kids get C’s and only the really high performers score A’s.
Much like a modern-day middle school honors assembly, everybody’s a winner at the UW School of Education. In its Department of Curriculum and Instruction (that’s the teacher-training program), 96% of the undergraduates who received letter grades collected A’s and a handful of A/B’s. No fluke, another survey taken 12 years ago found almost exactly the same percentage.

Raising the Bar on Teacher Prep

NCTQ: Our nation’s schools employ 3 million teachers and rely on 27,000 programs in 2,000 separate institutions for training those teachers. Since 2006, NCTQ has reviewed programs, made recommendations, and highlighted the best we’ve seen of key elements for undergraduate and graduate programs for elementary, secondary and special education. Wisconsin DPI’s ongoing efforts to weaken … Continue reading Raising the Bar on Teacher Prep

Strengthening Reading Instruction through Better Preparation of Elementary and Special Education Teachers (Wisconsin DPI, lead by Tony Evers, loophole in place)

Elizabeth Ross: This study examines all 50 states’ and the District of Columbia’s requirements regarding the science of reading for elementary and special education teacher candidates. Chan Stroman: “Report finds only 11 states have adequate safeguards in place for both elementary and special education teachers.” Make that “10 states”; with Wisconsin PI 34, the loophole … Continue reading Strengthening Reading Instruction through Better Preparation of Elementary and Special Education Teachers (Wisconsin DPI, lead by Tony Evers, loophole in place)

A new proposal for reforming teacher education

Daniel Willingham: What Should Teachers Know? Is my experience representative? Are most teachers unaware of the latest findings from basic science—in particular, psychology—about how children think and learn? Research is limited, but a 2006 study by Arthur Levine indicated that teachers were, for the most part, confident about their knowledge: 81 percent said they understood … Continue reading A new proposal for reforming teacher education

What does preservice teacher quality tell us about entry and retention in the profession?

Robert Vagi Margarita Pivovarova, and Wendy Miedel Barnard: Recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers has been a long-standing policy issue as states work to alleviate chronic teacher shortages as well as close achievement gaps. Importantly, evidence points to teacher quality as the most important school-based factor that affects student achievement. Unfortunately, it is often difficult for … Continue reading What does preservice teacher quality tell us about entry and retention in the profession?

97 (!) Emergency Elementary Teacher Licenses Granted to the Madison School District in 2016-2017

Wisconsin Reading Coalition (PDF), via a kind email: As we reported recently, districts in Wisconsin, with the cooperation of DPI, have been making extensive use of emergency licenses to hire individuals who are not fully-licensed teachers. Click here to see how many emergency licenses were issued in your district in 2016-17 for elementary teachers, special … Continue reading 97 (!) Emergency Elementary Teacher Licenses Granted to the Madison School District in 2016-2017

“the number of teachers was growing faster than student enrollment”

Mike Antonucci “Financially it’s a ticking time bomb, we think,” Ingersoll said. “The main budget item in any school district is teachers’ salaries. This just can’t be sustainable.” It’s easy to see what Ingersoll means. NCES produces its survey every four years. Almost all public school staffing took a hit during the 2012 survey, as … Continue reading “the number of teachers was growing faster than student enrollment”

Questions “National Teacher Shortage” Narrative, Releases Facts to Set the Record Straight

NCTQ (National Council on Teacher Quality): Our nation has open teaching positions that need to be filled by trained teachers. This is not a new national crisis but rather one America has been living with for years due to our unwillingness to adopt more strategic pay approaches. With rare exceptions, states have also shown no … Continue reading Questions “National Teacher Shortage” Narrative, Releases Facts to Set the Record Straight

Relaxing Wisconsin’s Weak K-12 Teacher Licensing Requirements; MTEL?

Molly Beck: A group of school officials, including state Superintendent Tony Evers, is asking lawmakers to address potential staffing shortages in Wisconsin schools by making the way teachers get licensed less complicated. The Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges, created by Evers and Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators executive director Jon Bales, released last … Continue reading Relaxing Wisconsin’s Weak K-12 Teacher Licensing Requirements; MTEL?

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 … Continue reading Within Our Grasp: Achieving Higher Admissions Standards in Teacher Prep

A Closer Look at Elementary Mathematics: Undergraduate Elementary Programs (UW-Madison Mentioned)

nctq Why teacher prep programs should have strong preparation in elementary mathematics Teaching elementary children the fundamentals of arithmetic—dividing fractions, operations with signed numbers, or basic probability—requires a deep understanding of the underlying mathematics. For elementary teachers, it’s simply not suf cient just to know “invert and multiply.” One must know and be able to … Continue reading A Closer Look at Elementary Mathematics: Undergraduate Elementary Programs (UW-Madison Mentioned)

The Economist’s Washington correspondent wonders why his offspring are being taught swimming so well and maths so badly

James Astill: Yet my children’s experience of school in America is in some ways as indifferent as their swimming classes are good, for the country’s elementary schools seem strangely averse to teaching children much stuff. According to the OECD’s latest international education rankings, American children are rated average at reading, below average at science, and … Continue reading The Economist’s Washington correspondent wonders why his offspring are being taught swimming so well and maths so badly

This school district tops the nation for teacher planning time

Donna St George: the nation’s schoolteachers get a lot more time for planning lessons than others. A new analysis found that elementary school teachers in Montgomery County, Md., top the list, getting more planning time than their counterparts in 147 large U.S. school districts. They get seven hours a week — an average of 84 … Continue reading This school district tops the nation for teacher planning time

Great teaching has long been seen as an innate skill. But reformers are showing that the best teachers are made, not born

The Economist: a new way of training teachers. Rather than spending their time musing on the meaning of education, he and his peers have been drilled in the craft of the classroom. Their dozens of honed techniques cover everything from discipline to making sure all children are thinking hard. Not a second is wasted. North … Continue reading Great teaching has long been seen as an innate skill. But reformers are showing that the best teachers are made, not born

What Matters In School Is Teachers; Fortunately, Teaching Can Be Taught

The economist: FORGET smart uniforms and small classes. The secret to stellar grades and thriving students is teachers. One American study found that in a single year’s teaching the top 10% of teachers impart three times as much learning to their pupils as the worst 10% do. Another suggests that, if black pupils were taught … Continue reading What Matters In School Is Teachers; Fortunately, Teaching Can Be Taught

Solving The Special Ed Teacher Shortage: Quality, Not Quantity

Lee Hale: United States, schools are scrambling to find qualified special education teachers. There just aren’t enough of them to fill every open position. That means schools must often settle for people who are under-certified and inexperienced. Special ed is tough, and those who aren’t ready for the challenge may not make it past the … Continue reading Solving The Special Ed Teacher Shortage: Quality, Not Quantity

Wisconsin Teacher Licensing Standards

Erin Richards: The proposal comes amid continuing discussion over the rigor and selectivity of university teacher education programs. Jon Bales, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, said there are issues in Wisconsin around the recruitment of would-be teachers and the quality of their preparation. But he said the provision championed by … Continue reading Wisconsin Teacher Licensing Standards

No profit left behind

Stephanie Simon: A POLITICO investigation has found that Pearson stands to make tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and cuts in student tuition from deals arranged without competitive bids in states from Florida to Texas. The review also found Pearson’s contracts set forth specific performance targets — but don’t penalize the company when it fails … Continue reading No profit left behind

Teacher Evaluation Plan Draws New Support

Caroline Porter: A coalition of teacher-preparation groups came out at the last minute to support a controversial federal plan to track how well new teachers fare as they start teaching in the classroom. While the groups represent a small segment of the teaching profession—only about 80,000 teachers out of millions—the move sets up a showdown … Continue reading Teacher Evaluation Plan Draws New Support

Doing the Math on Teacher Pensions: How to Protect Teachers and Taxpayers

NCTQ: Doing the Math on Teacher Pensions: How to Protect Teachers and Taxpayers challenges the claims of pension boards and other groups about the cost-effectiveness, fairness and flexibility of the traditional defined benefit pension plans still in place in 38 states. The report includes a report card on each of the 50 states and the … Continue reading Doing the Math on Teacher Pensions: How to Protect Teachers and Taxpayers

NPR: Six Education Stories To Watch in 2015

Claudio Sanchez: 5. Teacher Evaluation, Training, And The Vergara Fallout This past year, the Vergara ruling in California reinvigorated the debate over teacher tenure, especially termination and due process rights. In 2015, critics of teacher quality will take on unions in more states, beginning in New York. This will also draw more attention to colleges … Continue reading NPR: Six Education Stories To Watch in 2015

State governments reign over the teaching profession

National Council on teacher quality: State governments are arguably the most powerful authority over the teaching profession. Since 2007, NCTQ has tracked and analyzed teacher policies across all 50 states and the District of Columbia in our State Teacher Policy Yearbook. The Yearbook presents the most detailed analysis available of each state’s performance against, and … Continue reading State governments reign over the teaching profession

Smart money: What teachers make, how long it takes and what it buys them (Revised 12/5/2014)

National Council on Teacher Quality: What teachers are paid matters. Many factors play a role in making the decision to become a teacher, but for many people compensation heavily influences the decision not only to enter the profession but also whether to stay in it and when to leave. For teachers, knowing where salaries start … Continue reading Smart money: What teachers make, how long it takes and what it buys them (Revised 12/5/2014)

Milwaukee ranks high for teachers climbing pay scales, report says

Erin Richards: When it comes to how fast teachers can climb the salary ladder, Milwaukee Public Schools is a better than average place to work, according to a new report that studies the nuances of teacher compensation in more than 100 large districts. After adjusting for cost-of-living, the report ranked Milwaukee 16th among the big-city … Continue reading Milwaukee ranks high for teachers climbing pay scales, report says

A proposal to rate teacher preparation programs

Erin Richards: But Jeanne Williams, past president of the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and chair of the educational studies department at Ripon College, said the state is already preparing to release educator preparation program report cards, in accordance with a state law passed in recent years to strengthen teacher training. Those will … Continue reading A proposal to rate teacher preparation programs

How Teacher Prep Programs Are Failing New Teachers — And Your Kids

Joy Resmovits: As education policymakers untangle the implications of last week’s California court ruling that declared teacher tenure laws unconstitutional, an education think tank says its comprehensive survey of college teacher preparation programs shows they rarely provide new teachers with solid skills for the classroom. The National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington group that … Continue reading How Teacher Prep Programs Are Failing New Teachers — And Your Kids

UW-Madison’s Julie Underwood says controversial teacher education rankings “don’t mean much”

Pat Schneider: “So whether the ratings are lackluster, or horrible, or great doesn’t mean much to me,” she said. UW-Madison School of Education programs in secondary education were deemed to be in the bottom half nationwide and were not ranked. Underwood is not the only educator skewering the NTCQ ratings released this week that discredit … Continue reading UW-Madison’s Julie Underwood says controversial teacher education rankings “don’t mean much”

2014 Teacher Prep Review Findings

National Council on Teacher Quality: Our Approach There’s widespread public interest in strengthening teacher preparation — but there’s a significant data gap on what’s working. We aim to fill this gap, providing information that aspiring teachers and school leaders need to become strategic consumers and that institutions and states need in order to rapidly improve … Continue reading 2014 Teacher Prep Review Findings

Want better schools America? Make it harder to become a teacher.

Amanda Ripley So far this month in education news, a California court has decimated rigid job protections for teachers, and Oklahoma’s governor has abolished the most rigorous learning standards that state has ever had. Back and forth we go in America’s exhausting tug-of-war over schools—local versus federal control, union versus management, us versus them. But … Continue reading Want better schools America? Make it harder to become a teacher.

To improve our schools, we need to make it harder to become a teacher.

Amanda Ripley: So far this month in education news, a California court has decimated rigid job protections for teachers, and Oklahoma’s governor has abolished the most rigorous learning standards that state has ever had. Back and forth we go in America’s exhausting tug-of-war over schools—local versus federal control, union versus management, us versus them. But … Continue reading To improve our schools, we need to make it harder to become a teacher.

Who Profits from the Master’s Degree Pay Bump for Teachers?

Matthew Chingos: The fact that teachers with master’s degrees are no more effective in the classroom, on average, than their colleagues without advanced degrees is one of the most consistent findings in education research. In a study published in 2011, Paul Peterson and I confirmed this finding by comparing the student achievement of the same … Continue reading Who Profits from the Master’s Degree Pay Bump for Teachers?

Roll Call: The importance of teacher attendance

National Council on Teacher Quality: This report breaks down teacher attendance for 40 districts in the nation’s largest cities in the 2012-2013 school year. We identify districts with the greatest percentage of teachers with excellent attendance as well as those with the biggest percentages of chronically absent teachers. In addition to identifying districts that are … Continue reading Roll Call: The importance of teacher attendance

UW-Madison School of Education & Madison Schools Proposed Partnership: “Forward Madison”

Powerpoint Slides (900K PDF): Partner: University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education Term of Agreement: April 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 (phase one) Purpose: To craft a comprehensive induction strategy in Madison schools resulting in a workforce which can significantly impact student achievement and narrow opportunity gaps. (phase one) Target Audience: New educators, instructional coaches, … Continue reading UW-Madison School of Education & Madison Schools Proposed Partnership: “Forward Madison”

Civics & the Ed Schools; Ripe for Vast Improvement

I have a special interest in Civics education. My high school civics/government teacher drilled the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers into our small brains. This Vietnam Vet worked very hard to make sure that we understood how the US political system worked, or not. While reading the ongoing pervasive spying news, including … Continue reading Civics & the Ed Schools; Ripe for Vast Improvement

Kill the bill that would let politicians muck around with Common Core standards, says education dean

Pat Schneider Tim Slekar, the dean of education at Edgewood College and outspoken critic of corporate-driven education “reform,” couldn’t read another word about Wisconsin GOP legislators’ plan to rewrite the state’s educational standards without saying something about it. “Someone has to say it: Any bill that would allow politicians the ability to directly and/or indirectly … Continue reading Kill the bill that would let politicians muck around with Common Core standards, says education dean

States are starting to test teachers

The Economist:

IN THE film “Bad Teacher”, Cameron Diaz’s character says she entered the profession “for all the right reasons: shorter hours, summers off, no accountability”. No one is threatening to take away the first two agreeable perks, but several states are eyeing the third.

In the past, teachers were judged solely on their level of education and the number of years they had spent in the classroom–neither of which tells you whether their pupils are learning anything. But this is changing. A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a research group, finds that most states now demand that student achievement should be a significant factor in teacher evaluations (see chart). Only Alabama, California, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Texas and Vermont have no formal policy.
The expansion of teacher evaluation is broadly good news. Work published in 2011, from Columbia and Harvard, showed that pupils assigned to better teachers are more likely to go to college and earn decent salaries, and less likely to be teenage mothers. If teachers in grades 4 to 8 are ranked according to their ability to add value (ie, teach) and those in the bottom 5% are replaced with ones of average quality, a class’s cumulative lifetime income is raised by $250,000. Bill Gates once said that if every child had mathematics teachers as good as those in the top quartile, the achievement gap between America and Asia would vanish in two years. (His lecture has been watched 1.5m times online.)

Much more on teacher content knowledge requirements, here.

Tougher on teachers: One in four aspiring (Michigan) teachers pass new teacher test

Ron French:

Becoming a teacher in Michigan just became a lot more difficult.
Only one in four aspiring teachers passed a beefed-up version of Michigan’s teacher certification test – an exam that teachers must pass to be hired to lead a classroom – when the new test was administered for the first time last month.
The initial pass rate for the old version of the test was 82 percent; In October, with more difficult questions and higher scores needed to pass, the pass rate was 26 percent.
That means that three out of four students who completed what is typically a four- or five-year college program will have to retake the test or find another career.
The toughened certification tests are an effort to assure that only the most highly-qualified teachers are leading Michigan classrooms.
“Just like we’d want the best and most effective doctor,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a news release about the new, low pass rates. “The same applies to teaching Michigan’s students.”
Bridge Magazine raised concerns about the ease of teacher certification tests in October. At the time, aspiring Michigan teachers had a similar pass rate on certification tests as cosmetologists.
That story was part of a series examining the crucial role of teacher preparation in increasing learning in Michigan classrooms, where test scores show students are falling behind students in other states.

Related NCTQ study on teacher preparation and When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.
UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood continues her “status quo” advocacy via this latest op-ed.
Madison Literary Club Talk: Examinations for Teachers Past and Present

California teacher preparation reform

Jackie Mader:

For years, California has attempted to reform its teacher preparation programs to better prepare new teachers for the classroom. Alternative routes have popped up to offer aspiring teachers, in many cases, a less expensive and faster route to teaching. The state’s extensive performance exams for teacher candidates have served as a model for the rest of the nation.
Now, a teacher preparation program in California is pledging career-long support to its graduates. On Thursday, the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education launched a free helpline for its 25,000 alumni that will connect struggling graduates with a “rapid response team” of nine full-time faculty members. That team will diagnose problems, build individual plans for alumni, and offer solutions that range from site visits, to coaching, to professional development resources.

Related NCTQ study on teacher preparation and When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.

States are Starting to Test Teachers

The Economist:

IN THE film “Bad Teacher”, Cameron Diaz’s character says she entered the profession “for all the right reasons: shorter hours, summers off, no accountability”. No one is threatening to take away the first two agreeable perks, but several states are eyeing the third.
In the past, teachers were judged solely on their level of education and the number of years they had spent in the classroom–neither of which tells you whether their pupils are learning anything. But this is changing. A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a research group, finds that most states now demand that student achievement should be a significant factor in teacher evaluations (see chart). Only Alabama, California, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Texas and Vermont have no formal policy.
The expansion of teacher evaluation is broadly good news. Work published in 2011, from Columbia and Harvard, showed that pupils assigned to better teachers are more likely to go to college and earn decent salaries, and less likely to be teenage mothers. If teachers in grades 4 to 8 are ranked according to their ability to add value (ie, teach) and those in the bottom 5% are replaced with ones of average quality, a class’s cumulative lifetime income is raised by $250,000. Bill Gates once said that if every child had mathematics teachers as good as those in the top quartile, the achievement gap between America and Asia would vanish in two years. (His lecture has been watched 1.5m times online.)

Much more on teacher content knowledge requirements, here.

State of the States 2013 Connecting the Dots: Using Evaluations of Teacher Effectiveness to Inform Policy and Practice

National Council on Teacher Quality:

This report provides a detailed and up-to-date lay of the land on teacher evaluation policies across the 50 states and DCPS. It also offers a more in-depth look at the states with the most ambitious teacher evaluation systems, including their efforts to connect teacher evaluation to other policy areas. In addition, it includes some advice and lessons learned from states’ early experiences on the road to improving teacher evaluation systems.

An Industry of Mediocrity “”Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach teaching.”

Bill Keller, via a kind Peter Gascoyne email:

WHOEVER coined that caustic aphorism should have been in a Harlem classroom last week where Bill Jackson was demonstrating an exception to the rule. Jackson, a 31-year classroom veteran, was teaching the mathematics of ratios to a group of inner-city seventh graders while 15 young teachers watched attentively. Starting with a recipe for steak sauce — three parts ketchup to two parts Worcestershire sauce — Jackson patiently coaxed his kids toward little math epiphanies, never dictating answers, leaving long silences for the children to fill. “Denzel, do you agree with Katelyn’s solution?” the teacher asked. And: “Can you explain to your friend why you think Kevin is right?” He rarely called on the first hand up, because that would let the other students off the hook. Sometimes the student summoned to the whiteboard was the kid who had gotten the wrong answer: the class pitched in to help her correct it, then gave her a round of applause.
After an hour the kids filed out and the teachers circled their desks for a debriefing. Despite his status as a master teacher, Jackson seemed as eager to hone his own craft as that of his colleagues. What worked? What missed the mark? Should we break this into two lessons? Did the kids get it? And what does that mean?
“Does ‘get it’ mean getting an answer?” Jackson asked. “Or does it mean really understanding what’s going on?”
At that point Deborah Kenny, the founder of the Harlem Village Academies charter schools, leaned over to me: “That right there, that is why we’re starting a graduate school.”

Related: Teacher prep ratings.

Edgewood College’s new education dean says schools should opt out of high-stakes tests

Ruth Conniff:

As kids and teachers head back to school, the future of education in our state is a boiling-hot topic.
And no one is more ready to plunge into the roiling waters of school controversy than Tim Slekar, the new dean of the school of education at Edgewood College.
Slekar, who just moved to Madison from Pittsburgh, has been blogging about the dangers of corporate-backed education reform for years atatthechalkface.com. He is also the cohost of the online chalkface weekly radio show on Sundays at 5 p.m. and a founder of United Opt Out, a group that encourages parents and teachers to refuse to participate in high-stakes standardized tests.

Related: NCTQ survey on teacher education quality.

UW-Madison professor says ALEC assault on public schools threatens American tradition of ‘educated citizen’

Pat Schneider:

The attack by the American Legislative Council (ALEC) threatens public education on five critical fronts, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Julie Mead explains in an article published Wednesday by theInstitute for Wisconsin’s Future.
Interviewed by The Real News Network as protesters were arrested trying to crash ALEC’s 40th annual convention in Chicago last week, Mead said that education model bills flowing out of the conservative organization introduce market forces into and privatize education, increase student testing and decrease the influence of local school districts and school boards.
“One of the things that I like to talk about is what’s public about public education, because I really do believe that that is precisely what is at stake: what is public about public education,” Mead, a professor in the department of educational leadership and policy analysis, said in the article.
Trends fueled ALEC jeopardize five essential dimensions of public education, she said: Public purpose, public funding, public access, public accountability to communities and public curriculum.

Taking care of the basic such as reading and teacher preparation, will address some of the present public education system’s governance issues.
Related When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Seeking Better Teachers, City Evaluates Local Colleges That Train Them

Javier Hernandez:

The results released on Wednesday showed that even some of the country’s most prestigious programs have room for improvement. For example, one in five recent graduates of teaching programs at Columbia University and New York University were given low marks for how much they were able to improve student test scores; by contrast, 1 in 10 teachers who graduated from City College of New York received poor marks.
City officials cautioned against drawing sweeping conclusions from the data, saying the numbers were meant to provoke conversation, not rivalry. They noted that sample sizes were small; that test scores were available only in certain grades, in math and English; and that the data reflected only information from the past four years.
But in New York City, where competitive streaks are widespread, education leaders could not resist a little jockeying.
David M. Steiner, dean of Hunter College School of Education, said the results would prompt schools like Columbia and N.Y.U. to rethink elements of their program.
“These are places that are very well known for their research and scholarship,” Dr. Steiner, a former state education commissioner, said. “Is it possible that they need to pay more attention to their clinical preparation of teachers?”
Thomas James, provost of Teachers College at Columbia, said the reports prompted the school to examine how closely its curriculum aligned with city academic standards. He said the data also spurred interest in increasing the number of teachers who pursue certification in special education, where city data showed the school lagged behind its peers.

Related: National Council on Teacher Quality.

Teacher training programs need a reboot

Jane Dimyan-Ehrenfeld:

When the National Council on Teacher Quality released last month its report on teacher training programs, I was not shocked to read that the vast majority of colleges and universities do a poor job of preparing their students to teach. I imagine that many other people who have gone through such programs were equally unsurprised.
I went to a highly ranked liberal arts college and graduated with a special major in sociology, anthropology and education as well as an elementary teaching certificate. I immediately found a job teaching breathtakingly underprivileged students in a persistently failing elementary school in Prince George’s County. I wasn’t prepared to teach my students how to tie their shoes, much less to make up for years of institutional neglect, hunger, poverty, family transience, isolation and other ills. My first year was a nightmarish blur; my second was only slightly less awful. My third had its highlights but was still a daily struggle. There are stories from that time that my parents never heard.
One of the perpetual concerns I held through those three years was how to teach the many special-needs students in my third- and fourth-grade classes who were not being served by the school’s special-education teacher. To gain practical skills to serve the students I now understood would be in my classes, regardless of where I taught, I decided to go to graduate school for special education. I started a one-year master’s program at Teachers College, Columbia University, which has long been regarded as among the best education programs in the country.
I quickly realized that I had made a terrible mistake. My professors seemed uninterested in teaching me anything practical. At that time, in 2000, the academic hero du jour was Lev Vygotsky, with his theory of the zone of proximal development. It seemed not to matter what I did in my teaching placement as long as I wrote every paper and approached all of my lesson planning from a Vygotskian perspective.

Related: The Teacher Prep Review Honor Roll
and Teacher prep resources: Many thanks to IHEs who shared!

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.

Real classrooms: Teacher education must emphasize the practical

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

An abundance of research shows that teacher quality is the single most important determinant of student learning. It’s also the conclusion of a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality — part of a project funded by major U.S. foundations.
Unfortunately, the same report found that colleges and their schools of education do a poor job of training teachers and preparing them for real-life challenges in the classroom.
“We don’t know how to prepare teachers,” says Arthur Levine, former president of Columbia University Teachers College. “We can’t decide whether it’s a craft or a profession.” Mr. Levine blames low admission standards, less-than-relevant academic work and an out-of-touch faculty in schools of education — some of whom haven’t set foot in a school for years.
Part of the problem is that the teaching profession does not attract, in general, the nation’s most talented students. Less than one in four of U.S. teachers graduated in the top third of their high school class, the report states, compared to 100 percent in Singapore and Finland.

Related: NCTQ 4-3-2-1 Star-Rating of University Teacher Preparation Programs in the USA: “the evaluations provide clear and convincing evidence, based on a four-star rating system, that a vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not give aspiring teachers…. Much more on the NCTQ teacher preparation report, here.

Summary of UW System Teacher Preparation in Early Reading and Struggling Reader Curricula

National Council On Teacher Quality: Teacher Prep Report, June, 2013 (PDF) and National Council On Teacher Quality: Teacher Prep Details, June, 2013 (PDF):





via a kind Wisconsin Reading Coalition email:

Earlier this week we provided a link to the teacher preparation report released by the National Council on Teacher Quality. We have pulled out the ratings for UW system schools in the areas of preparing teachers to teach early reading and struggling readers.
On the summary attachment, you can see which five schools scored zero stars for early reading, which 2 schools scored 1 star, which two schools scored 3 stars, and which school received the maximum 4 stars. You can also see which two schools scored 4 stars in the area of struggling readers, and which 10 schools received zero stars.
On the detail attachment, you can read the NCTQ comments on why each school received certain scores.

Much more on the recently released NCTQ teacher quality study, here.
Related: Teacher Training’s Low Grade.

Big “take-aways” about teacher preparation in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Elementary Teacher Prep Rating Distribution


Wisconsin Secondary Teacher Prep Rating Distribution


National Council on Teacher Quality:

Highly rated programs — The undergraduate secondary program at the University of Wisconsin – Stout is on the Teacher Prep Review’s Honor Roll, earning at least three out of four possible stars. Across the country, NCTQ identified 21 elementary programs (4 percent of those rated) and 84 secondary programs (14 percent) for the Honor Roll.
Selectivity in admissions — The Review found that 32 percent of elementary and secondary programs in Wisconsin restrict admissions to the top half of the college-going population, compared to 28 percent nationwide. Countries where students consistently outperform the U.S. typically set an even higher bar, with teacher prep programs recruiting candidates from the top third of the college-going population.
Some worry that increasing admissions requirements will have a negative effect on the diversity of teacher candidates. By increasing the rigor and therefore the prestige of teacher preparation the profession will attract more talent, including talented minorities. This is not an impossible dream: 83 programs across the country earn a Strong Design designation on this standard because they are both selective and diverse, although no such programs were found in Wisconsin.
Early reading instruction — Just 25 percent of evaluated elementary programs in Wisconsin are preparing teacher candidates in effective, scientifically based reading instruction, an even lower percentage than the small minority of programs (29 percent) providing such training nationally. The state should find this especially alarming given that Wisconsin now requires elementary teacher candidates to pass one of the most rigorous tests of scientifically based reading instruction in the country.
Elementary math — A mere 19 percent of evaluated elementary programs nationwide provide strong preparation to teach elementary mathematics, training that mirrors the practices of higher performing nations such as Singapore and South Korea. 25 percent of the evaluated elementary programs in Wisconsin provide such training.
Student teaching — Of the evaluated elementary and secondary programs in Wisconsin, 58 percent entirely fail to ensure a high quality student teaching experience, in which candidates are assigned only to highly skilled teachers and receive frequent concrete feedback. 71 percent of programs across the country failed this standard.
Content preparation — None of Wisconsin’s elementary programs earn three or four stars for providing teacher candidates adequate content preparation, compared to 11 percent of elementary programs nationwide. At the high school level, 23 percent of Wisconsin secondary programs earn four stars for content preparation, compared to 35 percent nationwide. The major problem at the secondary level is that programs’ requirements for general science or general social science certifications do not ensure that candidates are prepared in the content of every subject they will be licensed to teach, since the states licensing test requirements do not provide this assurance.
Outcome data — None of the evaluated programs in Wisconsin earn four stars for collecting data on their graduates, compared to 26 percent of evaluated programs in the national sample. In the absence of state efforts to connect student achievement data to teacher preparation programs, administer surveys of graduates and employers or require administration of teacher performance assessments (TPAs), programs that fare poorly on this standard have not taken the initiative to collect any such data on their own.

Related: “Transparency Central” National Review of Education Schools and Georgia, Wisconsin Education Schools Back Out of NCTQ Review.
Erin Richards

  • Some of the education programs in Eau Claire, Platteville, River Falls, La Crosse and Madison received between two and two and a half stars.
  • Other programs in Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Platteville, River Falls, Stevens Point, Stout, Superior and Whitewater received between one and one and a half stars.
  • About 1 in 3 teacher training programs reviewed restrict admission to the top half of the college-going population.
  • About 1 in 4 elementary education programs reviewed prepare teacher candidates in effective, scientifically based reading instruction
  • About 1 in 4 elementary ed programs reviewed provide strong preparation to teach elementary mathematics. That’s better than the national average of 19% of elementary education programs that offer strong math prep.
  • No Wisconsin programs evaluated earned any credit for collecting data on their graduates, compared with 26% of programs that did so in the national sample.

Nationally, more than 200,000 candidates graduate from teacher preparation programs each year, then enter systems where teacher quality has long been a point of debate.

Finally, Wisconsin recently adopted Massachusett’s elementary teacher content knowledge licensing (English only, not math) requirements beginning in 2014 (MTEL).

Fascinating: UW education dean warns school boards that ALEC seeks to wipe them out

Pat Schneider:

ALEC is still at it, Julie Underwood, dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, cautions in “School Boards Beware,” (PDF) a commentary in the May issue of Wisconsin School News.
The model legislation disseminated by the pro-free market American Legislative Exchange Council’s national network of corporate members and conservative legislators seeks to privatize education and erode the local control, Underwood says.
“The ALEC goal to eliminate school districts and school boards is a bit shocking — but the idea is to make every school, public and private, independent through vouchers for all students. By providing all funding to parents rather than school districts, there is no need for local coordination, control or oversight,” she writes in the magazine of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
Underwood, who says that Wisconsin public schools already face unprecedented change, last year co-authored a piece about ALEC’s grander plans, a “legislative contagion (that) seemed to sweep across the Midwest during the early months of 2011.”
In her recent piece, Underwood argues that a push to privatize education for the “free market” threatens the purpose of public education: to educate every child to “become an active citizen, capable of participating in our democratic process.”

Related:

  • The state this year will start rating each school on a scale of 0 to 100 based on student test scores and other measurables. The idea, in part, is to give parents a way to evaluate how a school is performing while motivating those within it to improve.
  • Several schools across the state — including Madison’s Shorewood Elementary, Black Hawk Middle and Memorial High schools — are part of Wisconsin’s new teacher and principal evaluation system, which for the first time will grade a teacher’s success, in part, on student test scores. This system is to be implemented across Wisconsin in 2014-15.li>And instead of Wisconsin setting its own student benchmarks, the state is moving toward using Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted in 45 other states. State schools are starting new curricula this year in language arts and math so students will be prepared by the 2014-15 school year to take a new state exam tied to this common core and replacing the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination.

Although Underwood says she generally backs most of these changes, she’s no fan of the decision announced last month that makes it easier for a person to become a public school teacher — even as those who are studying to become teachers must now meet stiffer credentialing requirements. Instead of having to complete education training at a place like UW-Madison en route to being licensed, those with experience in private schools or with other teaching backgrounds now can take steps to become eligible for a public teaching license.

“I think that’s really unfortunate,” says Underwood, who first worked at UW-Madison from 1986-95 before coming back to town as education dean in 2005.

Related:

So why haven’t we ensured that all children get a rigorous, supportive education? Fear Factor: Teaching Without Training

Lisa Hansel, via a kind reader’s email:

So why haven’t we ensured that all children get a rigorous, supportive education?
This is a question I ask myself and others all the time. I think it’s more productive than merely asking “How can we?” Those who ask how without also asking why haven’t tend to waste significant amounts of time and resources “discovering” things that some already knew.
Okay, so I’ve partly answer the why question right there. Much better answers can be found in Diane Ravitch’s Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms, E. D. Hirsch’s The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them, and Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.
But still, those answers are not complete.
Right now, Kate Walsh and her team with the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) are adding to our collective wisdom–and potentially to our collective ability to act.
NCTQ is just a couple months away from releasing its review of teacher preparation programs. The results may not be shocking, but they are terrifying. Walsh provides a preview in the current issue of Education Next. In that preview, she reminds us of a study from several years ago that offers an insiders’ look at teacher preparation:

The most revealing insight into what teacher educators believe to be wrong or right about the field is a lengthy 2006 volume published by the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Studying Teacher Education. It contains contributions from 15 prominent deans and education professors and was intended to provide “balanced, thorough, and unapologetically honest descriptions of the state of research on particular topics in teacher education.” It lives up to that billing. First, the volume demonstrates the paucity of credible research that would support the current practices of traditional teacher education, across all of its many functions, including foundations courses, arts and sciences courses, field experiences, and pedagogical approaches, as well as how current practice prepares candidates to teach diverse populations and special education students. More intriguing, however, is the contributors’ examination of the dramatic evolution of the mission of teacher education over the last 50 years, in ways that have certainly been poorly understood by anyone outside the profession.
Studying Teacher Education explains the disconnect between what teacher educators believe is the right way to prepare a new teacher and the unhappy K-12 schools on the receiving end of that effort. It happens that the job of teacher educators is not to train the next generation of teachers but to prepare them.

Huh? Really? How exactly does one prepare without training? Walsh goes on to explain that. But the only way to prepare yourself to comprehend the teacher educators’ reasoning is to pretend like “prepare them” actually means “brainwash them into believing that in order to be a good teacher, you have to make everything up yourself.” Back to Walsh:

Harking back perhaps to teacher education’s 19th-century ecclesiastical origins, its mission has shifted away from the medical model of training doctors to professional formation. The function of teacher education is to launch the candidate on a lifelong path of learning, distinct from knowing, as actual knowledge is perceived as too fluid to be achievable. In the course of a teacher’s preparation, prejudices and errant assumptions must be confronted and expunged, with particular emphasis on those related to race, class, language, and culture. This improbable feat, not unlike the transformation of Pinocchio from puppet to real boy, is accomplished as candidates reveal their feelings and attitudes through abundant in-class dialogue and by keeping a journal. From these activities is born each teacher’s unique philosophy of teaching and learning.
There is also a strong social-justice component to teacher education, with teachers cast as “activists committed to diminishing the inequities of American society.” That vision of a teacher is seen by a considerable fraction of teacher educators (although not all) as more important than preparing a teacher to be an effective instructor.

Kate Walsh:

Nowhere is the chasm between the two visions of teacher education–training versus formation–clearer than in the demise of the traditional methods course. The public, and policymakers who require such courses in regulations governing teacher education, may assume that when a teacher takes a methods course, it is to learn the best methods for teaching certain subject matter. That view, we are told in the AERA volume, is for the most part an anachronism. The current view, state professors Renee T. Clift and Patricia Brady, is that “A methods course is seldom defined as a class that transmits information about methods of instruction and ends with a final exam. [They] are seen as complex sites in which instructors work simultaneously with prospective teachers on beliefs, teaching practices and creation of identities–their students’ and their own.”
The statement reveals just how far afield teacher education has traveled from its training purposes. It is hard not to suspect that the ambiguity in such language as the “creation of identities” is purposeful, because if a class fails to meet such objectives, no one would be the wiser.
The shift away from training to formation has had one immediate and indisputable outcome: the onus of a teacher’s training has shifted from the teacher educators to the teacher candidates. What remains of the teacher educator’s purpose is only to build the “capacity” of the candidate to be able to make seasoned professional judgments. Figuring out what actually to do falls entirely on the candidate.
Here is the guidance provided to student teachers at a large public university in New York:
In addition to establishing the norm for your level, you must, after determining your year-end goals, break down all that you will teach into manageable lessons. While so much of this is something you learn on the job, a great measure of it must be inside you, or you must be able to find it in a resource. This means that if you do not know the content of a grade level, or if you do not know how to prepare a lesson plan, or if you do not know how to do whatever is expected of you, it is your responsibility to find out how to do these things. Your university preparation is not intended to address every conceivable aspect of teaching.
Do not be surprised if your Cooperating Teacher is helpful but suggests you find out the “how to” on your own. Your Cooperating Teacher knows the value of owning your way into your teaching style.

Related: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.
Wisconsin has recently taken a first baby step toward teacher content knowledge requirements (something Massachusetts and Minnesota have done for years) via the adoption of MTEL-90. Much more on teacher content knowledge requirements, here.
Content knowledge requirements for teachers past & present.

Wisconsin Teacher Preparation Policy Grade: “D”

National Council on Teacher Quality

Elementary and Special Education Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction
New legislation now requires as a condition of initial licensure that all elementary and special education teachers pass an examination identical to the Foundations of Reading test administered as part of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure. The passing score on the examination will be set at a level no lower than the level recommended by the developer of the test, based on the state’s standards.
2011 Wisconsin Act 166, Section 21, 118.19(14)(a)
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/related/acts/166.pdf
Teacher Preparation Program Accountability
Each teacher preparation program must submit a list of program completers who have been recommended for licensure. Also, a system will be developed to publicly report measures of performance for each prep program. Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, each program must display a passage rate on the first attempt of recent graduates on licensure exams.
2011 Wisconsin Act 166, Section 14, 25.79, Section 17, 115.28(7g)
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/related/acts/166.pdf
Wisconsin Response to Policy Update
States were asked to review NCTQ’s identified updates and also to comment on policy changes related to teacher preparation that have occurred in the last year, pending changes or teacher preparation in the state more generally. States were also asked to review NCTQ’s analysis of teacher preparation authority (See Figure 20).
Wisconsin noted that middle childhood–early adolescence elementary teachers are required to earn a subject area minor. Wisconsin also included links and citations pertaining to content test requirements for adding to secondary certifications.
The state asserted that its alternate route programs require the same basic skills tests and passing scores for admission that are required for institutions of higher education (IHEs). The state added that alternate route programs are required to use the same content tests and passing scores as IHEs and that content tests are taken as an
admissions requirement.
Wisconsin referred to its handbook and approval guidelines for alternate route programs and noted that the state has added a new pathway, “License based on Equivalency.” The state noted that its new website, Pathways to Wisconsin Licensure, along with updated materials, will be posted in mid-August 2012 at http://dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/
licpath.html
.
In addition, Wisconsin was helpful in providing NCTQ with further information about state authority for teacher preparation and licensing

After settlement, UW System to turn over syllabuses to nonprofit National Council on Teacher Quality

Bruce Vielmetti, via a kind reader’s email:

Wisconsin’s public universities have agreed to turn over education course syllabuses to a nonprofit group reviewing teacher education programs nationwide.
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents had contended the course descriptions were copyrighted and not subject to disclosure under the state’s public records law. The National Council on Teacher Quality disagreed and sued in January.
Under a settlement agreement approved this month, the UW System will provide the syllabuses for “core undergraduate education” courses taught in 2012 at the system’s 12 universities, and will pay the council nearly $10,000 in attorney fees, damages and costs. The UW System will not charge location or copying fees for providing the records.
The agreement provides that the payment is not an admission of liability or of a public records law violation. The plaintiff is represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a Milwaukee-based public interest law firm.

Notes and links on the NCTQ’s open records lawsuit against the UW-Madison School of Education.

In Teacher Pensions, Even the Fixes Are Moving in the Wrong

Chad Aldeman:

NCTQ’s new report on the state of state teacher pension plans is well worth your time. If you’re new to the pension issue, it does a great job of breaking down the issues in simple and clear language. If you know your way around defined benefit plans, there’s still lots of good resources on, for example, the number of states that made changes to their pension formulas over the last four years. And, if you only care about a particular state, it has lots of tables where you can find exactly how your home state is doing.
So go read it all and save it as a resource. For this blog, I want to pull out one of its main findings and show why it matters. Since 2009, 13 states have changed their vesting requirements, and 11 of those 13 made this period longer. The vesting period is amount of time a teacher must be employed before becoming eligible for pension benefits. If they meet the minimum vesting requirement, they’re eligible for a pension. If they don’t, they typically can get their own contributions back and some interest on those contributions, but they forfeit the contributions their employer made on their behalf.

Outlook not set in stone for Wisconsin school of education enrollment

Arthur Thomas:

For all the changes implemented in 2011, one thing hurt enrollment at schools of education more than others, said John Gaffney, recruitment and retention coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s School of Education.
“The message of teachers being the problem hurt us the most,” Gaffney said.
The Act 10 legislation affected teachers’ pocketbooks – with union bargaining largely eliminated, higher deductions for benefits were imposed – and the political firestorm that resulted put teachers at the center of attention.
Maggie Beeber, undergraduate advising coordinator at the UW-Stevens Point education school, recounted a story where she was meeting with incoming freshmen. She asked the students if anyone had tried to discourage them from becoming teachers. Nearly every hand went up. Then she asked if more than five people had discouraged them. Most of the hands stayed up.
“It’s easy to follow the public discourse about teaching right now and conclude that everything is doomed,” said Desiree Pointer Mace, associate dean for graduate education at Alverno College.

Related:

An Interview with UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood

Todd Finkelmeyer:

It’s an unprecedented amount of change, honestly,” says Julie Underwood, the dean of UW-Madison’s highly ranked School of Education.
Consider:

  • The state this year will start rating each school on a scale of 0 to 100 based on student test scores and other measurables. The idea, in part, is to give parents a way to evaluate how a school is performing while motivating those within it to improve.
  • Several schools across the state — including Madison’s Shorewood Elementary, Black Hawk Middle and Memorial High schools — are part of Wisconsin’s new teacher and principal evaluation system, which for the first time will grade a teacher’s success, in part, on student test scores. This system is to be implemented across Wisconsin in 2014-15.li>And instead of Wisconsin setting its own student benchmarks, the state is moving toward using Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted in 45 other states. State schools are starting new curricula this year in language arts and math so students will be prepared by the 2014-15 school year to take a new state exam tied to this common core and replacing the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination.

Although Underwood says she generally backs most of these changes, she’s no fan of the decision announced last month that makes it easier for a person to become a public school teacher — even as those who are studying to become teachers must now meet stiffer credentialing requirements. Instead of having to complete education training at a place like UW-Madison en route to being licensed, those with experience in private schools or with other teaching backgrounds now can take steps to become eligible for a public teaching license.
“I think that’s really unfortunate,” says Underwood, who first worked at UW-Madison from 1986-95 before coming back to town as education dean in 2005.

Related:

Loss of master’s degree pay bump has impact on teachers, grad schools

Erin Richards, via a kind reader’s email:

The dropping of the master’s bump in many districts is also raising new questions about what kind of outside training is relevant to help teachers improve outcomes with their students, and what those teachers – who are already taking home less pay by contributing more to their benefits – will consider to be worth the investment.
Wauwatosa East High School government teacher Ann Herrera Ward is one educator puzzled by the turning tide on advanced degrees.
Ward earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before working in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven years, then got on the road to a teaching license through Marquette University, where she got a master’s in instructional leadership.
Entering her 20th year as a teacher, she’s finishing her dissertation for her doctorate degree: a study of how kids learn about elections and politics by discussing the matters in school and at home.

Related:

AAE Signs on to College of Education Reform Coalition

Association of American Educators:

With the teaching profession growing and evolving, one theme that remains constant is the fact that effective teachers are the key to student success. Studies have shown that education schools are deeply in need of reform. From attracting top high school graduates, to improving the quality of instruction, institutions that prepare future teachers must be able to produce results. In order to bring our colleges of education into a new era of success, AAE is pleased to be joining the list of endorsers of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s (NCTQ) project to rank colleges of education in an effort to better prepare future educators.

MTEL Arrives in Wisconsin: Teacher Licensing Content Requirement, from 1.1.2014

2011 WISCONSIN ACT 166, via a kind reader:

Section 21. 118.19 (14) of the statutes is created to read:
118.19 (14) (a) The department may not issue an initial teaching license that authorizes the holder to teach in grades kindergarten to 5 or in special education, an initial license as a reading teacher, or an initial license as a reading specialist, unless the applicant has passed an examination identical to the Foundations of Reading test administered in 2012 as part of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure [blekko]. The department shall set the passing cut score on the examination at a level no lower than the level recommended by the developer of the test, based on this state’s standards.
(c) Any teacher who passes the examination under par. (a) shall notify the department, which shall add a notation to the teacher’s license indicating that he or she passed the examination.
and….
115.28 (7g) Evaluation of teacher preparatory programs.
(a) The department shall, in consultation with the governor’s office, the chairpersons of the committees in the assembly and senate whose subject matter is elementary and secondary education and ranking members of those committees, the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, do all of the following:
1. Determine how the performance of individuals who have recently completed a teacher preparatory program described in s. 115.28 (7) (a) and located in this state or a teacher education program described in s. 115.28 (7) (e) 2. and located in this state will be used to evaluate the teacher preparatory and education programs. The determination under this subdivision shall, at minimum, define “recently completed” and identify measures to assess an individual’s performance, including the performance assessment made prior to making a recommendation for licensure.
2. Determine how the measures of performance of individuals who have recently completed a teacher preparatory or education program identified as required under subd. 1. will be made accessible to the public.
3. Develop a system to publicly report the measures of performance identified as required under subd. 1. for each teacher preparatory and education program identified in subd. 1.
(b) Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, the department shall use the system developed under par. (a) 3. to annually report for each program identified in par. (a) 1. the passage rate on first attempt of students and graduates of the program on examinations administered for licensure under s. 115.28 (7) and any other information required to be reported under par. (a) 1.
(c) Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, each teacher preparatory and education program shall prominently display and annually update the passage rate on first attempt of recent graduates of the program on examinations administered for licensure under s. 115.28 (7) and any other information required to be reported under par. (a) 1. on the program’s Web site and provide this information to persons receiving admissions materials to the program.
Section 18. 115.28 (12) (ag) of the statutes is created to read:
115.28 (12) (ag) Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, each school district using the system under par. (a) shall include in the system the following information for each teacher teaching in the school district who completed a teacher preparatory program described in sub. (7) (a) and located in this state or a teacher education program described in sub. (7) (e) 2. and located in this state on or after January 1, 2012:
1. The name of the teacher preparatory program or teacher education program the teacher attended and completed.
2. The term or semester and year in which the teacher completed the program described in subd. 1.

Related:

This is a sea change for Wisconsin students, the most substantive in decades. Of course, what is entered into the statutes can be changed or eliminated. The MTEL requirement begins with licenses after 1.1.2014.

New teachers getting ready to be graded on classroom work: Wisconsin moving toward portfolio-based assessment

Erin Richards:

For example, in addition to having to publicly post their graduates’ first-time pass rates on the exams required for licensure starting in the 2013-’14 school year, the programs would also have to annually provide the DPI with a list of their graduates and graduation dates.
DPI, in turn, is required in the legislation to include that data in a statewide student-information system, which could allow the state to track which schools new teachers end up in after graduation.
It could also eventually be connected to the performance of those teachers’ students on state tests.
Teacher certification tests have been scrutinized because it’s hard to adequately assess, in one exam, the multitude of skills necessary to be a good teacher. And there’s little research evidence to suggest that the current crop of exams is a useful tool for doing that.
The current tests are developed by the nonprofit Educational Testing Service or the for-profit education company Pearson, and they typically rely heavily on multiple-choice questions.
Cut scores, or the score required to pass the tests, are often set well below averages.
A 2010 analysis by the National Council for Teacher Quality (reports) found that on average, states had set the bar so low, that even teacher candidates who scored in the 16th percentile would receive their certification.
In Wisconsin, the pass rates of new teachers on the multiple-choice subject tests required for licensure the same every year – 100%. That’s because the state requires a passing grade on the test before an institution can recommend that teacher candidate for a license.
Nobody is currently required to report how many times a teacher candidate might have taken the certification test and failed.
“The testing technology that is widely used today just can’t get at what is really the fundamental question of ‘Can the person actually teach?’ ” said Sharon Robinson of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, which is collaborating with Pearson on the performance assessment.
“We can give a number of different tests about what they know,” she said. “I think the ambition now is to get an assessment that can actually document the candidate’s ability to teach.”

Related: A Capitol Conversation on Wisconsin’s Reading Challenges and 9.27.2011 Wisconsin Read to Lead Task Force Notes

What Teacher Preparation Programs Teach about K-12 Assessment

National Council on Teacher Quality:

A review of coursework on K-12 assessment from a sample of teacher preparation programs
SUMMARY
Over the past several decades, federal and state governments, school districts and education leaders have invested significant resources to develop assessments and data systems to track student performance.Yet little attention has been paid to the importance of building the capacity of teachers in assessment so that they are prepared to use data on student learning to inform and improve instruction. As part of our National Review of Teacher Preparation Programs, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) is examining the extent to which teacher preparation programs train teachers to understand assessment data and use that data to make informed instructional adjustments. Our preliminary findings are cause for concern: At best, teacher preparation programs in this preliminary sample are providing limited training to candidates in the field of assessment and data use. As a result, schools end up employing teachers who lack the training necessary to make use of information increasingly at hand.

More Election Tea Leaves: UW-Madison Ed School Dean on K-12 Tax & Spending: Defunding and privatization threaten public schools

UW-Madison Ed School Dean Julie Underwood:

Public education currently stands under twin towers of threat — de-funding and privatization. This is consistent with a conservative agenda to eliminate many public programs — including public education.
In Wisconsin, school districts have been under strict limits on their revenues and spending since 1993. These limits have not kept pace with the natural increases in the costs of everyday things like supplies, energy and fuel. So every year, local school board members and administrators have had to cut their budgets to comply with spending limits. Throughout these years, school boards and administrators have done an admirable job of managing these annual cuts, but taken together, reductions in programs and staff have had a significant and very negative impact on our schools and the education they can provide to children.
Unfortunately this year, these same districts have received the largest single budget cut in Wisconsin history. For example, high poverty aid was cut by 10 percent during a time when poverty in children has increased in Wisconsin. As a result, schools are cutting programs and staff. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction data, the cuts in 2012 are greater than the two previous years combined. These cuts will be compounded when next year’s cuts come due.

Related:

UW profs shed light on ALEC’s threat to public education

Todd Finkelmeyer:

University of Wisconsin-Madison professors Julie Underwood and Julie Mead are expressing concern over the growing corporate influence on public education in an article published Monday.
In particular, they are highly critical of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which connects conservative state legislators with like-minded think tanks, corporations and foundations to develop “model legislation” that can be enacted at the state level.
Underwood is the dean of UW-Madison’s School of Education, while Mead chairs the ed school’s department of educational leadership and policy analysis. The two make their opinions known in an article they co-authored for the March issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine, which serves members of the PDK professional organization for educators.
Underwood says much of the information in the article is an outgrowth of research she conducted while helping get the ALECexposed.org website up and running last summer.

Related:

Raising Wisconsin’s Student Achievement Bar?

Alan Borsuk:

What if you suddenly found out that half of the eighth-graders in Wisconsin, all kids you thought were highly rated readers, really didn’t merit being called proficient? That instead of four out of five being pretty decent in math, it was really two out of five?
You better start thinking how you’d react because it’s likely that is what’s coming right at us. That’s how dramatic a proposal last week by the state Department of Public Instruction is.
As parents, teachers, school leaders, politicians, community leaders and taxpayers, will we be motivated to do better? Will we see the need for change? Will we rise to the occasion? Or will we settle for being discouraged and basically locked into what we’ve come to expect?
Here’s what’s going on: With Congress failing to pass a revision, originally due in 2007, of the education law known as No Child Left Behind, the U.S. Department of Education has begun issuing waivers from the enforcement program of the increasingly dysfunctional law. Wisconsin wants a waiver – it’s one of the things people such as Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic-oriented Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers agree on. So a task force developed a proposal. People have until Feb. 3 to react to the proposal and the application is to be submitted Feb. 21.
The plan will change a lot of important dynamics of what students and schools in Wisconsin are expected to accomplish. It calls for publicly rating all schools on a 1 to 100 point scale, with student outcomes as a key factor. Schools that score low will face orders to improve and, possibly, closing. And that goes for every school with students whose education is paid for with public dollars – in other words, private schools in the voucher programs for Milwaukee and Racine kids are included.
Overall, the waiver plan means we are at the point where Wisconsin gets serious about raising expectations for student achievement. Wisconsin is regarded as having one of the lowest bars in the U.S. for rating a student as proficient. No more, the proposal says.
….
Eighth-grade reading: Using the WKCE measuring stick, 86% of students were rated as “advanced” or “proficient.” Using the NAEP measuring stick, it was 35% – a 51-point difference. At least as vivid: Using the WKCE measure, 47% of eighth-graders were “advanced,” the top bracket. Using the NAEP measure, it was 3%. Three percent! In other words, only a handful of kids statewide would be labeled advanced under the new system, not the nearly half we’re used to.
Fourth-grade reading: On the WKCE scale, 82% were proficient or advanced. On the NAEP scale, it was 33%.
Eighth-grade math: WKCE, 78% proficient. NAEP: 41%.
Fourth-grade math: WKCE: 79% proficient. NAEP: 47%.

A substantial improvement in academic standards is warranted and possibly wonderful, assuming it happens and avoids being watered down. The rightly criticized WKCE was an expensive missed opportunity.
Related: www.wisconsin2.org

Reforming Teacher Prep

Jocelyn Huber:

Students across the country have settled into another school year and many prospective teachers are in their first year of student teaching experience. Student teaching gives prospective teachers the opportunity to put theory into practice and ideally to learn the art of teaching from a skilled educator. Despite the importance of the student teaching experience, in some cases too little attention is paid to the quality of these programs. Some states are bravely tackling the arduous task of developing and refining teacher evaluation systems, but have yet to look carefully at the institutions and pre-service experiences that have the ability to deliver either exceptional or failing teachers. Rather than struggling to find the fairest way to identify, remediate, or ultimately remove bad teachers, wouldn’t it be far more beneficial for the profession and for students’ learning to ensure that only the very best teachers are earning certification and entering the classroom? (See DFER’s white paper, Ticket to Teach, to read some of our recommendations on reforming the profession here.)
In an attempt to more carefully examine the quality of pre-service training and education for teachers, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has begun a review of teacher preparation. In July, they released “Student Teaching in the United States.” The report and the larger review are controversial and have generated some backlash. But, if one can look past the defensiveness and posturing on all sides, the report suggests some helpful guidelines for teacher preparation programs and states to begin setting clearer and more rigorous training criteria for the benefit of students.

Just the research we all want to see: Multiple measures doesn’t mean muddied mess

The National Council on Teacher Quality

Value-added measures are often criticized for providing a narrow view of a teacher’s performance. Conversely, broader measures like observations are seen as too subjective. A new study shows–happily–that both types of evaluations are consistent and complementary: they predict future students’ achievement. Teachers who score well on one also score well on the other. Best of all, combining them produces a stronger and more accurate measure of a teacher’s effectiveness than using either alone.
Jonah E. Rockoff and Cecilia Speroni of Columbia University looked at the ability of three measures to predict teacher effectiveness: a rigorous job application process, observations and ratings by trained mentors, and value-added calculations based on students’ math and English scores.

Teacher layoffs: Did the sky fall or not?

The National Council on Teacher Quality :

Since the recession began, the specter of massive teacher layoffs has been hanging over the nation’s schools. The feds have repeatedly come to the rescue–even when some parts of the country didn’t seem to be particularly struggling–providing funds first in the form of stimulus dollars, followed by last year’s EduJobs.
So far this year there appears to be little likelihood of a comparable rescue package. The president’s job bill offers the only hope, but we all know how far that one isn’t going. The White House has been making the case nonetheless, supplying sobering evidence of a decline in education jobs and that as many as 280,000 “educator jobs” are at risk this school year.
Not discounting this evidence, we’ve been struck by the lack of reports on layoffs in newspapers this fall. Last spring, they were all reporting about school districts handing out pink slips by the thousands, but there’s been little follow up on teachers converting from pink-slip status to no-job-at-all status.

College of Education can learn about itself

Deborah Van Eendenburg:

No factor is more important to the quality of education than the quality of the teacher. With so much at stake, it would be good to know just how well teacher preparation programs are equipping tomorrow’s teachers — and their students — up for success.
To answer this question, the National Council on Teacher Quality has partnered with U.S. News & World Report to launch a review of the more than 1,400 teacher preparation programs around the country. NCTQ will look at whether the programs select academically capable students, ensure they know the subjects they will teach and equip them with the techniques they need to help their students achieve. The review will let aspiring teachers know where they can get the best preparation, and encourage other programs to emulate the models of their field.
In the 2008-09 academic year, the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development produced more than 300 of the 4,500 new teachers who graduated in Minnesota. Yet despite its key role in filling the state’s ranks of educators and despite being sent a formal request to participate in July, as of this week, CEHD has not indicated that they will cooperate with the review.

Teacher colleges balk at being rated Wisconsin schools say quality survey from national nonprofit and magazine won’t be fair by: Erin Richards:

Grading The Teacher’s Teachers

Erin Dillon and Elena Silva:

Largely ignored during the past 30 years of efforts to reform K-12 schools, the higher education community is about to feel the glare of the public spotlight on its work — and that attention is causing concern and skepticism.
In January 2011, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), an independent, nonprofi t group that advocates for reforms in teacher policies, said it would rate all teacher preparation programs and publish the results next year in U.S. News & World Report. The announcement has rankled many, even in the teacher reform movement, and highlights in sharp relief the divergent factors and strategies at play. Most school reform efforts have focused on schools, districts, and communities. But the move to assess teacher education and publicize the results puts higher education under a spotlight that it has rarely experienced.
Schools of education have responded to the news with alarm, describing the national review of teacher preparation as “flawed,” “unnecessary,” and “a violation of sound research.” The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), a national alliance of educator preparation programs, found in a recent survey that only 12% of its member institutions plan to participate willingly.

Student Teaching in the United States

National Council on Teacher Quality:

Though few would dispute its value, the job of providing apprenticeships for some 200,000 teacher candidates each year in real classrooms is a massive and complex undertaking. About 1,400 higher education institutions work with many thousands of school districts across the United States to place, mentor and supervise teacher candidates in what is popularly known as “student teaching.”1
Even as the profession pushes for more and earlier field work opportunities, student teaching is the final clinical experience.2 During the typical semester-long experience, student teaching candidates must synthesize everything they have learned about planning instruction: collecting or developing instructional materials, teaching lessons, guiding small group activities, and establishing and maintaining order–not to mention meetings with faculty and parents and, in some districts still, taking on lunchroom and playground duties. Passing (or failing) student teaching determines whether an individual will be recommended for certification as a licensed teacher.
Because few dispute the tremendous potential value of student teaching, even alternate pathways to profession, often criticized for taking too many shortcuts, generally try to provide their teaching candidates with some kind of student teaching experience, however abbreviated. Surveys of new teachers suggest that student teaching is the most important part of their teaching training experience.3

Related: Teacher colleges balk at being rated Wisconsin schools say quality survey from national nonprofit and magazine won’t be fair.
National Council on Teacher Quality website.

Report says L.A. principals should have more authority in hiring teachers

Howard Blume:

School principals should be able to hire any teacher of their choosing, and displaced tenured teachers who aren’t rehired elsewhere within the system should be permanently dismissed, according to a controversial new report on the Los Angeles Unified School District. The report will be presented Tuesday to the Board of Education.
The research, paid for largely by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, offers a roadmap for improving the quality of teaching in the nation’s second-largest school system, with recommendations strongly backed by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Statement by State Education Chiefs Supporting the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Review of Colleges of Education

Foundation for Excellence in Education, via a Kate Walsh email:

Today, the following members of Chiefs for Change, Janet Barresi, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Information; Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction; Steve Bowen, Maine Commissioner of Education; Chris Cerf, New Jersey Commissioner of Education; Deborah A. Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education; Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Commissioner of Education; Eric Smith, Florida Commissioner of Education; and Hanna Skandera, New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary-Designate, released a statement supporting the National Council on Teacher Quality’s colleges of education review.
“Great teachers make great students. Preparing teachers with the knowledge and skills to be effective educators is paramount to improving student achievement. Ultimately, colleges of education should be reviewed the same way we propose evaluating teachers – based on student learning.”
“Until that data becomes available in every state, Chiefs for Change supports the efforts of the National Council on Teacher Quality to gather research-based data and information about the nation’s colleges of education. This research can provide a valuable tool for improving the quality of education for educators.”

Related: Georgia, Wisconsin Education Schools Back Out of NCTQ Review

Public higher education institutions in Wisconsin and Georgia–and possibly as many as five other states–will not participate voluntarily in a review of education schools now being conducted by the National Council for Teacher Quality and U.S. News and World Report, according to recent correspondence between state consortia and the two groups.
In response, NCTQ and U.S. News are moving forward with plans to obtain the information from these institutions through open-records requests.
In letters to the two organizations, the president of the University of Wisconsin system and the chancellor of Georgia’s board of regents said their public institutions would opt out of the review, citing a lack of transparency and questionable methodology, among other concerns.
Formally announced in January, the review will rate education schools on up to 18 standards, basing the decisions primarily on examinations of course syllabuses and student-teaching manuals.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?:
Teacher colleges balk at being rated Wisconsin schools say quality survey from national nonprofit and magazine won’t be fair.

“Transparency Central” National Review of Education Schools

The National Council on Teacher Qualty:

Higher education institutions, whether they are private or public, have an obligation to be transparent about the design and operations of their teacher preparation programs. After all, these institutions have all been publicly approved to prepare public school teachers.
Here at Transparency Central, you can keep track of whether colleges and universities are living up to their obligation to be open. Just click on a state to learn more about the transparency of individual institutions there.
NCTQ is asking institutions to provide documents that describe the fundamental aspects of their teacher preparation programs: the subject matter teachers are supposed to know, the real-world classroom practice they are supposed to get, the outcomes that they achieve once they enter the classroom. Taken together, the evidence we gathering will answer a key question: Are individual programs setting high expectations for what new teachers should know and be able to do for their students?
A number of institutions have let us know that they do not intend to cooperate with our review, some even before we formally asked them for documents. As a result, we have begun to make open records requests using state “sunshine” (or “freedom of information act”) laws.
We’ll be regularly updating our progress, so come back soon to learn more about our efforts to bring transparency to teacher prep.

Related:

Important voice missing in blue ribbon reading discussion

Susan Troller

While working on another story this morning, I kept checking Wisconsin Eye’s live coverage of the first meeting of Gov. Scott Walker’s blue ribbon task force on reading.
Sitting next to the Governor at the head of the table was State Superintendent Tony Evers, flanked by Sen. Luther Olsen, chair of the Education Committee and Rep. Steve Kestell. Also on hand were representatives from organizations like the Wisconsin State Reading Association (Kathy Champeau), teachers and various other reading experts, including a former Milwaukee area principal, Anthony Pedriana, who has written an influential book on reading and student achievement called “Leaving Johnny Behind.” Also on hand was Steven Dykstra of the Wisconsin Reading Coalition.
Dykstra, in particular, had a lot to say, but the discussion of how well Wisconsin kids are learning to read — a subject that gets heated among education experts as well as parents and teachers — struck me as quite engaging and generally cordial.
There seemed to be consensus surrounding the notion that it’s vitally important for students to become successful readers in the early grades, and that goal should be an urgent priority in Wisconsin.
But how the state is currently measuring up to its own past performance, and to other states, is subject to some debate. Furthermore, there isn’t a single answer or widespread agreement on precisely how to make kids into better readers.

Related:

Teacher colleges balk at being rated Wisconsin schools say quality survey from national nonprofit and magazine won’t be fair

Erin Richards:

A controversial review of America’s teacher colleges has met resistance in Wisconsin, where education school leaders in the public and private sector say they will not voluntarily participate.
The National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit advocacy group, and U.S. News & World Report, known for its annual rankings of colleges, announced in January they would launch a first-ever review of the nation’s roughly 1,400 colleges of education. The recruitment and training of teachers have become a hot-button issue tied to education reform, but university system presidents in Wisconsin as well as New York, Georgia, Oregon and Kentucky have expressed misgivings about the process of assessing and ranking their education schools.
“While we welcome fair assessment and encourage public sharing of our strengths and weaknesses, we believe your survey will not accomplish these goals. We therefore wish to notify you that our entire membership has decided to stand united and not participate further in the survey process,” says an April 7 letter by Katy Heyning, president of the Wisconsin Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, and addressed to the National Council on Teacher Quality and U.S. News. Heyning also is the dean of the College of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
The council, meanwhile, is filing open-records requests to get information about the public education schools in states that won’t provide it voluntarily. Arthur McKee, manager of teacher preparation programs at the NCTQ, said the council had not received the letter from Heyning. But it had received a letter from UW System President Kevin Reilly.
That letter from March 28 says that UW’s 13 teacher colleges declined to participate because of “serious concerns” about the survey’s methods of data collection, analysis and reporting.

Much more, here.

2010 State Teacher Policy Yearbook Blueprint for Change

National Council on Teacher Quality:

Most states’ evaluation, tenure and dismissal policies remain disconnected from classroom effectiveness.

  • Teacher evaluation is a critical attention area in 42 states because the vast majority of states do not ensure that evaluations, whether state or locally developed, preclude teachers from receiving satisfactory ratings if those teachers are found to be ineffective in the classroom. In addition, the majority of states still does not require annual evaluations of all veteran teachers, and most still fail to include any objective measures of student learning in the teacher evaluations they do require.
  • In 46 states, teachers are granted tenure with little or no attention paid to how effective they are with students in their classrooms. While there are a few states that have vague requirements for some consideration of evidence, and a few others that promise that teacher evaluations will “inform” tenure decisions, only Colorado, Delaware, Oklahoma and Rhode Island demand that evidence of student learning be the preponderant or decisive criterion in such decisions.
  • Dismissal is a critical attention area in 46 states. There are at least two state leaders taking this issue head on. In Oklahoma, recent legislation requires that tenured teachers be terminated if they are rated “ineffective” for two consecutive years, or rated as “needs improvement” for three years running, or if they do not average at least an “effective” rating over a five-year teaching period. In Rhode Island, teachers who receive two years of ineffective evaluations will be dismissed. Any teacher with five years of ineffective ratings would not be eligible to have his or her certification renewed by the state.

A Review of the Nation’s Education Schools

National Council on Teacher Quality:

It’s never been done.
We’re going to do it.
Every year across the country, around a quarter of a million people enter the teaching profession. Almost all of them are prepared in the nation’s schools of education. If the country is serious about bending upward the curve of its students’ stagnant academic performance, improving the preparation of new teachers would seem to be a crucial step. And yet, very little is known about the quality of teacher preparation programs–their selectivity, the content and pedagogical knowledge that they demand that their teacher candidates master, or how well they prepare candidates for the rigors of the classroom. Without such knowledge, people thinking about becoming teachers can’t make informed choices about where to get trained, district superintendents and principals don’t know where to look for well-prepared teachers, and policymakers lack the means to sanction poorly performing education schools.

Teacher’s ed…

The Chicago Tribune

The most critical factor in a child’s education outside the home is the quality of the teacher at the front of his or her classroom. A great teacher can lift a struggling student. A mediocre teacher can set a child back months if not years.
So which Illinois education schools are producing great teachers? And which aren’t?
On Tuesday, the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality unveiled a no-punches-pulled report that evaluated 111 undergraduate and graduate programs in 53 education schools across Illinois.
The most disturbing finding: The state’s largest producers of teachers — Illinois State University and Northern Illinois University, — earned poor marks. Illinois State, the report said, merited “exceptionally low grades in its undergraduate elementary and special education programs.” Northern Illinois “did only slightly better, with weak grades in its undergraduate elementary and both its undergraduate and graduate special education program.”

The National Council on Teacher Quality, an Ed Reform organization posing as a think tank, has issued another report on Seattle.

Charlie Mas

The National Council on Teacher Quality, an Ed Reform organization posing as a think tank, has issued another report on Seattle. This one explores the proposals discussed in the negotiations over the teachers’ contract.
I have reviewed their report and found it to be a mixed bag.
I agree with the District and the NCTQ regarding teacher assignment.
I, too, would like to see principals have more authority to determine who works in their schools. I support the District proposal to eliminate super-seniority privileges and the forced placement of any teacher in any school. I also support mutual consent hiring for all teachers regardless of the reason a teacher is transferring schools or when the position is being filled. Under such a system, excessed teachers would be able to remain in the displaced pool for a limited amount of time while they search for a new position: 12 months for teachers on a continuing contract; 6 months for teachers on a provisional contract. After this period, they would be subject to layoffs. If teachers cannot find a principal in the District willing to hire them, then they don’t work here anymore.

Debate over school data in wealthy counties

Jay Matthews:

Educational statistics expert Joseph Hawkins, one of my guides to the mysteries of test assessment, is impatient with the way the Montgomery County Public School system, as he puts it, “is always telling the world how better it is than everyone else.” He finds flaws in its latest celebration of college success by county graduates, particularly minorities.
As a senior study director with the Rockville-based research firm Westat, Hawkins’ critique has regional and national importance because it deals with the National Student Clearinghouse. This little-known information source may become the way school raters like me decide which school families and taxpayers are getting their money’s worth and which aren’t.
The clearinghouse has a database of more than 93 million students in more than 3,300 colleges and universities. It originally specialized in verifying student enrollment for loan companies. Now it tells high schools how their alums are doing.
Yeah, sure, says Hawkins, but “data from the Clearinghouse is not completely accurate, especially if social security numbers for students are not obtained.” Also, he says, some of the numbers Montgomery County brags about don’t look so good when compared to others.

Teacher Layoffs: Rethinking “Last-Hired, First-Fired” Policies

National Council on Teacher Quality:

In September of 2009, Washington, DC, schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee laid off nearly 400 teachers, citing a serious shortfall in funds for the DC school system. The move, coming as it did after Washington hired more than 900 new teachers in the summer of 2009, made jaws drop — some in outrage, some in awe. But the controversy was due only partly to the fact that Rhee axed jobs so close on the heels of a hiring spree; she also took full advantage of a clause in DC regulation that made “school needs,” not seniority, the determining factor in who would be laid off.
Approve of Rhee’s move or not, the highly scrutinized and controversial layoffs spotlight an important question: what factors should be considered when school districts must decide who will stay and who will go?
In the past year, cash-strapped districts have been handing out pink slips by the hundreds, and some, by the thousands. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nearly 60,000 teachers were laid off in 2009. State budget gaps and deficit projections, with federal stimulus funding already spent, suggest more of the same for 2010. Some observers expect current cuts to come faster even than those of the 1970s, when the baby boom generation waned, emptying out schools across the country.

Are Colorado’s Education school graduates ready to teach reading and mathematics in elementary classrooms?

National Council on Teacher Quality [PDF report]:

Improving teacher effectiveness is hgh on the list of most education reformers in colorado, as it is nationally. Effective teaching in the elementary years is of vital importance to ensure not only that children master fundamental skills, but that performance gaps narrow rather than widen beyond repair. We now know that disadvantaged students can catch up academically with their more advantaged peers if they have great elementary teachers several years in a row.
It is for these reasons that the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a nonpartisan research and advocacy group dedicated to the systemic reform of the teaching profession, evaluates the adequacy of preparation provided by undergraduate education schools. These programs produce 70 percent of our nation’s teachers. We think it is crucial to focus specifically on the quality of preparation of future elementary teachers in the core subjects of reading and mathematics.
Teacher preparation programs, or “ed schools” as they are more commonly known, do not now, nor have they ever, enjoyed a particularly positive reputation. Further, there is a growing body of research demonstrating that teacher preparation does not matter all that much and that a teacher with very little training can be as effective as a teacher who has had a lot of preparation. As a result, many education reformers are proposing that the solution to achieving better teacher quality is simply to attract more talented people into teaching, given that their preparation does not really matter.
In several significant ways, we respectfully disagree. NCTQ is deeply committed to high-quality formal teacher preparation, but, importantly, we are not defenders of the status quo. We also do not believe that it is a realistic strategy to fuel a profession with three million members nationally by only attracting more elite students. Yes, we need to be much more selective about who gets into teaching, and we strenuously advocate for that goal. But even smart people can become better teachers, particularly of young children, if they are provided with purposeful and systematic preparation.
NCTQ has issued two national reports on the reading and mathematics preparation of elementary teachers in undergraduate education schools. The first, What Education Schools Aren’t Teaching about Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren’t Learning was released in May 2006.1 The second, No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America’s Education Schools, followed just over two years later.2 These reports provide the methodological foundations for this analysis of teacher preparation in every undergraduate program in Colorado.

GOTTA GO HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD TO DO A TRACKING STUDY

National Council on Teacher Quality:

Kenya appears to be a fave location among educational researchers of late. A relatively stable country where teacher salaries are low (primary teachers make the equivalent of about $3,500 annually) must be the draw. To study the effects of ability tracking in schools, three U.S. researchers provided the funding to 121 Kenyan schools so that they could double the number of their first grade teachers, enabling class sizes of 45 students instead of 90.
Half of the students were assigned to the new first grade classes based on their ability, a practice pejoratively referred to in the U.S. as ‘tracking’, and the other half were randomly assigned, regardless of their ability. Researchers found that students in the schools with tracking scored higher–though just a little–on a post-test than their peers in nontracked schools. More important was the fact that the improved performance was consistent across the board at all levels, for low-, medium- and high-scoring students.
Given the inordinate differences between class sizes, the results are likely not generalizable to the U.S., but still of interest.

Complete 750K PDF Report.

MINNESOTA MIRACLE WITH MATH TURNAROUND SPECIALIST PROF. BILL SCHMIDT

National Council on Teacher Quality:

We’ve grown so accustomed to Massachusetts’ trailblazer stature in education that perhaps we were a little blasé over its decision to participate in the TIMSS, international assessments of 4th and 8th grade mathematics performance. Nor were we all that surprised to learn that the state’s students performed relatively well compared to students from other nations.
Less blasé are we about Minnesota, which for years has demonstrated little more than smug satisfaction over its high standing among American states, but which decided to finally prove its mettle by competing against the world and doing fairly well (as is illustrated here).

Invisible Ink in Collective Bargaining Agreements: Why Key Issues Are Not Addressed

Emily Cohen, Kate Walsh & RiShawn Biddle [305K PDF]:

NCTQ takes a close look at the governance of the teaching profession and finds that state legislators and other state-level policymakers crafting state laws and regulation, not those bargaining at the local level, decide some of the most important rules governing the teaching profession.
As a number of big school districts around the country such as San Diego, Broward County, and Philadelphia hammer out new teacher contracts over the next few months, both sides will no doubt bring laundry lists of “must-haves” to the bargaining table. The common assumption is that the important action happens when district administrators and union representatives sit down at the bargaining table. Yet the reality is that well before anyone meets to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement, many issues will have already been decided.
State legislators and other state-level policymakers crafting state laws and regulation, not those bargaining at the local level, decide some of the most important rules governing the teaching profession. Though the teacher contract still figures prominently on such issues as teacher pay and the schedule of the school day, it is by no means the monolithic authority that many presume it to be. In fact, on the most critical issues of the teaching profession, the state is the real powerhouse. State law dictates how often teachers must be evaluated, when teachers can earn tenure, the benefits they’ll receive, and even the rules for firing a teacher.
A recent example out of New York State illustrates the growing authority of the state legislature in shaping rules that were traditionally in the purview of the local school district. Last year New York City Public Schools sought to change the process for awarding teachers tenure by factoring in student data. The local teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers protested the district’s new policy, not through a local grievance (because the union, by state law, had no say on tenure issues), but by lobbying state legislatures to pass a bill that would effectively make the district’s action illegal.1 Guided by the heavy hand of the state teachers’ union and the UFT, the New York State Legislature blocked New York City’s tenure changes by embedding a provision in the 2008-2009 budget that made it illegal to consider a teacher’s job performance as a factor in the tenure process.2 The placement of the provision in the large, unwieldy budget virtually assured the union of a win, as few legislators or the governor would have been prepared to have the budget go down on the basis of a single provision.

No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America’s Education Schools

Julie Greenberg and Kate Walsh, National Council on Teacher Quality1.5MB PDF:

American students’ chronically poor performance in mathematics on international tests may begin in the earliest grades, handicapped by the weak knowledge of mathematics of their own elementary teachers. NCTQ looks at the quality of preparation provided by a representative sampling of institutions in nearly every state. We also provide a test developed by leading mathematicians which assesses for the knowledge that elementary teachers should acquire during their preparation. Imagine the implications of an elementary teaching force being able to pass this test.

No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America’s Education Schools, June 2008

National Council on Teacher Quality (3MB PDF):

American students’ chronically poor performance in mathematics on international tests may begin in the earliest grades, handicapped by the weak knowledge of mathematics of their own elementary teachers. NCTQ looks at the quality of preparation provided by a representative sampling of institutions in nearly every state. We also provide a test developed by leading mathematicians which assesses for the knowledge that elementary teachers should acquire during their preparation. Imagine the implications of an elementary teaching force being able to pass this test.

Brian Maffly:

Most of the nation’s undergraduate education programs do not adequately prepare elementary teachers to teach mathematics, according to a study released Thursday by an education-reform advocacy group. Utah State University is among the 83 percent of surveyed programs that didn’t meet what the National Council on Teacher Quality calls an emerging “consensus” on what elementary teachers must learn before joining professional ranks.
“There’s a long-standing belief in our country that elementary teachers don’t really need to get much math. The only thing you need to teach second-grade math is to learn third-grade math,” said Kate Walsh, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based group. “We haven’t put much attention to fact the elementary teachers are the first math teachers kids get. Their foundational skills have long-term ramifications whether that child will be able to do middle and high school math.”
The NCTQ’s findings are similar to a reading report the group released two years ago, claiming that 85 percent of undergraduate elementary education programs fail to adequately prepare students to teach reading.

Joanne has more. It will be interesting to see of the Madison Math Task Force addresses the question of teacher content knowledge. Related: