School & District Management

Iowa Governor Seeks to Raise Teachers’ College Bar

By Sean Cavanagh — December 13, 2011 1 min read
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Securing a place in the teaching profession will become a bit tougher in Iowa, if Gov. Terry Branstad and the state schools chief, Jason Glass, have their way.

Gov. Branstad, a Republican, wants to require a minimum 3.0 grade point average for admission to teacher education programs in the state, as part of a package of proposed changes to school policy unveiled earlier this year. Many of the changes would require legislative approval.

Other pieces of his plan would require aspiring teachers to take more subject-specific coursework and classes in core academic subjects and give them more classroom exposure and more mentoring.

The governor has also advocated overhauling the compensation system for educators—though he recently said he wants to hold off on trying to get that proposal through the legislature, in order to build support for it.

Critics of Gov. Branstad’s plan—including some college officials, The Des Moines Register noted in a recent article—say it could exclude teacher-candidates who may have struggled as undergraduates but could still be effective teachers; others wonder if it would exclude a higher number of minority candidates.

Mr. Glass said in an interview that state officials are still examining whether to allow some flexibility on the 3.0 GPA requirement, such as allowing an aspiring teacher who does not meet the standard to gain entry through high scores on the Praxis, a teacher-licensing exam, or through other means.

The new standard would apply to both public and private institutions in Iowa, he added, because the state accredits all of those teacher programs and would not do so if they didn’t adhere to the standard.

“The principle here is that we want to raise the bar,” Mr. Glass said of the GPA requirement.

Mr. Glass said he understood critics’ concerns that the GPA requirement could create challenges for filling workforce needs and luring minority candidates into the profession, but he said the state is counting on teacher colleges to develop more aggressive recruitment strategies.

He said a recent report by the Register finding one-fifth of aspiring teachers not meeting the 3.0 threshold “shows that we can be more selective and should be more selective in developing teachers and a more well-prepared workforce.”

A version of this article appeared in the December 15, 2011 edition of Education Week as Higher Bar Sought for Iowa Aspirants to Teacher Colleges

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