Saturday, October 23, 2010

Preparing teachers for standards (or not)

In Cracks in the Ivory Tower, the Fordham Foundation recently published results of a mayor survey of education professors, including one set of the questions that, "Teacher education programs can impart different qualities to their students.  Which of the following qualities do you think are most essential and which are least essential?"  Here are the rates at which respondents ranked some qualities "absolutely essential," as highlighted in a new Flypaper post:

  • 82 percent for "teachers who are themselves life-long learners and constantly updating their skills"
  • 69 percent for "teachers who will have high expectations of all their students"
  • 42 percent for "teachers trained in pragmatic issues of running a classroom such as managing time and preparing lesson plans"
  • 37 percent for "teachers who maintain discipline and order in the classroom"
  • 24 percent for "teachers who understand how to work with the state's standards, tests and accountability systems"
That last item makes me ache.  Remember that I'm convinced that what works for students is teaching to standards by checking each student's current work and adjusting instruction to keep every student moving forward.  That's the model that raises achievement and shrinks achievement gaps.  It's what "balanced assessment" is all about.

Seeing that approach as essential for students, I hate to see evidence that professors don't see capacity to use that approach as essential for teachers. 

Do note that the survey reflects a national sample, rather than a Kentucky sample.  I'm hopeful that Kentucky programs are already better focused, and even more hopeful that Senate Bill 1 will add further strength to our teacher preparation efforts. 

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!