The idea that teacher-preparation programs should be judged by the achievement of students taught by the program’s graduates—which is endorsed by Arthur Levine [“Critical Thinking,” November/December]—has been getting increased attention.
If we judged medical schools by the health of doctors’ patients, schools preparing doctors who served people with the greatest health problems would be put out of business. Similarly, law schools preparing lawyers who defended the poor would not be accredited. We need education schools that prepare teachers to teach the students with the greatest needs, but few would pursue that mission if their effectiveness were judged by student test scores.
As Levine asserts, we need teachers with broad knowledge and a rich repertoire of skills. One sure way to narrow the preparation of teachers is to measure their effectiveness by student scores on standardized tests.
Should we hold teacher-education programs accountable for their graduates’ ability to teach? Of course. But there are more valid and productive ways to determine that the graduates of teacher-preparation programs have the needed knowledge and skills.
Willis D. Hawley
Professor of education and public policy, University of Maryland
A version of this article appeared in the January 01, 2007 edition of Teacher as Measuring Up