Teacher Prep: Insights About the Latest Research

Schools of education are usually not hotbeds of controversy which makes new research about them interesting for those of us who care about improving K-12 schooling.

We commend the National Council on Teacher Quality for its commitment to seeing through to completion the "Teacher Prep Review." We also understand why some object to the methodology and conclusions. Here is just one pushback from the National Council of Teachers of English.

Our take is that we need to care about how teachers are trained because they are absolutely key to improving education. Furthermore, the impact is enormous in the coming decade as so many new teachers go through these programs. We continue to encourage schools of education, teachers, administrators and everyone to utilize their critical thinking skills in examining the report and next steps.

Change isn't easy. The Chalkboard Project's history of education advocacy in Oregon is full of examples of where we have asked the tough questions in order to improve schools. At the same time we know that collaboration is essential to meaningful and sustainable improvements.

Through our initiative TeachOregon, school districts are partnering with community colleges and university programs to develop preparation programs that will create a more diverse and effective workforce. Each team is comprised of local teachers, administrators, community college faculty and university professors. In some instances, this is the first time the employing school district has been in conversation with the school of education about how to train their future employees!

In total the teams serve more than a quarter of Oregon's K-12 students and 65 percent of teacher candidates each year.

These partnerships have just turned in their "blueprints" they have spent months designing. They each address four components to improving teacher prep: recruitment and selection; classroom experience/clinical practice; hiring and placement; and mentoring and induction of teachers.

In early July we will announce which successful partnerships will secure implementation funding for up to $700,000 for three years.

However, being a change agent doesn't mean accepting arguments that can't be backed up with facts. We always encourage rich conversation about the future of teacher preparation, such as this recent post on our blog.

On another report card, Education Week recently gave Oregon a "C" for education outcomes and ranked us 42nd lowest in the country.

This is unacceptable in a state that has such ability to perform much higher. The NCTQ teacher prep review, at the very least, elevates the conversation around preparing the next generation of teachers. It's an important conversation and one in which we are deeply engaged in here in Oregon.