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This Week in PubHub: Teacher Preparation

June 10, 2011

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she looked at four reports that explore developments and issues involved in palliative and end-of-life care.)

As the debate over how to measure and improve teacher quality rages on, this week in PubHub we're featuring four reports that explore ways to strengthen teacher preparation programs.

One of the stated aims of the Department of Education's Race to the Top initiative is to help states implement reforms in "recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals" by linking student performance data to teacher education programs, publicly reporting program effectiveness, and scaling successful programs. The Center for American Progress report Race to the Top and Teacher Preparation: Analyzing State Strategies for Ensuring Real Accountability and Fostering Program Innovation (48 pages; 610KB; PDF) examines states' RTT-funded plans to adopt stricter accountability mechanisms for teacher education programs and finds that while all twelve states have committed to better reporting, only five intend to publish the effectiveness of program graduates as a measure of accountability. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates and Eli and Edythe Broad foundations, the report recommends maximizing the potential for change by developing high-quality data reporting systems, piloting stronger accountability measures, fostering innovative strategies, supporting promising practices in non-RTT-funded states, and monitoring state performance.

Measuring What Matters: A Stronger Accountability Model for Teacher Education (44 pages; 397KB; PDF), an earlier Center for American Progress report that was also funded by the Gates Foundation, proposes a framework for a more radically redesigned teacher education accountability model with the following components: a measure of whether program graduates help their students learn, measures of classroom performance based on reliable and valid observation instruments, public reporting of persistence rates up to five years post-completion, feedback from program graduates and their employers, and a new licensure process that includes common tests and policies across states.

Getting in Sync: Revamping Licensure and Preparation for Teachers in Pre-K, Kindergarten and the Early Grades (32 pages; 1.75MB; PDF), a report from the New America Foundation that focuses on teacher education for pre-K through third grade, argues that current teacher education curricula pay little attention to developmental science or early childhood-specific training. Funded by the Foundation for Child Development and the A.L. Mailman Family and W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone foundations, the report highlights a number of promising practices, including increasing applicant pool selectivity, an emphasis on frequent classroom experience and in-depth coursework, and the need for more rigorous licensure standards and policies.

The Elusive Talent Strategy: An Excellent Teacher for Every Student in Every School (16 pages; 776KB; PDF), a report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, also calls, among other things, for improving applicant pools. According to the report, top-performing education systems in Finland, Singapore, and South Korea hire only the top third of college graduates as teachers. If U.S. students are to compete globally in the twenty-first century, the report argues, the country needs to recruit better teacher candidates and improve their preparation; offer incentives to place them where they are needed most; utilize data to improve support systems and evaluation systems; and hold teachers accountable for their performance. Promising models that have emerged of late include urban teacher residencies -- apprenticeship programs that provide intensive classroom experience alongside a mentor teacher, supplemented by coursework -- and alternatives such as Teach for America and the New Teacher Project that enable teachers to begin their careers while in the process of obtaining their certification.

What are your thoughts about accountability and teacher education programs? Know of any promising practices or policies? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

And don't forget to visit PubHub, where you can browse more than seven hundred reports on education-related topics.

-- Kyoko Uchida

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