Saturday, April 26, 2014

Obama Administration Plan Seeks to Rate Teacher Training Programs

Great commentary by Bruce Baker can be found here in his blog post titled, "Arne-Ology & the Bad Incentives of Evaluating Teacher Prep with Student Outcome Data."
Yes, this is a terrible idea.


Obama Administration Plan Seeks to Rate Teacher Training Programs


The Obama administration on Friday will announce plans to develop ratings of teacher preparation programs to try to make them more accountable for their graduates’ future performance in the classroom.
Teachers have long complained that training programs often do not adequately prepare candidates for the challenges of teaching children with varying needs and abilities. Prospective teachers, in turn, have no common way of evaluating the quality of thousands of programs across the country, whether they are in colleges of education or based in alternative groups like Teach for America.

Arne Duncan, the education secretary, said he often speaks with teachers about how they trained for the job. “I ask teachers, were they prepared when they entered into that school, or entered the profession, and there’s often a fair amount of nervous laughter,” Mr. Duncan said in a conference call with reporters.

By this summer, the administration will propose rules for evaluating all teacher training programs, using metrics that could include the placement of graduates in schools, pass rates on licensing exams, teacher retention rates and the performance ratings that teachers receive on the job.

A 2013 review of 2,420 teacher preparation programs by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit group that advocates tougher standards for teachers, found that less than a quarter provided candidates with concrete strategies for managing students in a classroom. The majority failed to guarantee that candidates were placed with highly skilled teachers during student-teaching stints.

Any proposals by the administration are likely to be controversial, particularly those requiring teacher training programs to release the evaluation data of their graduates in the classroom. Currently, 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have agreed to develop teacher performance ratings that include student test scores.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest teachers’ union, said she supported improvements in teacher training programs. But, she said, the administration should not implement “a quick-fix, test-and-punish, market-based ranking of programs.”

Education leaders said policymakers should have started with changes to teacher preparation programs, rather than focusing on the overhaul of tenure or changes to current teacher performance ratings. “It’s like the public health equivalent of trying to cure people who have a malady versus trying to prevent the malady in the first place,” said Charles Barone, policy director for Democrats for Education Reform, a group that pushes for test-based teacher evaluations and has battled teachers’ unions. “We’re putting a lot of money in the evaluation of teachers who never had any business getting into the profession anyway, or we’re remediating and telling them things to do that they should have been told in their teacher prep programs. They were cheated. It’s not fair to anybody.”

Two years ago, the administration tried to come up with a proposal for rating teacher training programs, but the committee convened to develop the rules could not agree and the proposal stalled. David M. Steiner, the dean of the School of Education at Hunter College in New York, who served on the rulemaking committee in 2012, said he hoped the administration would be more successful this time.

“We have 1,400 education schools that are all over the map in terms of what they’re doing and how they do it,” Mr. Steiner said. “And we owe our kids highly effective teachers, and we’ve got to begin to be highly transparent about what we’re doing.”

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