Teacher colleges need to set higher standards for admission and give aspiring educators much more thorough, intense exposure to K-12 classrooms during their training, the National Association of State Boards of Education argues in a new report.
The group says that experience in classroom settings and continued mentoring once teachers are on the job are critical to developing top-notch educators.
But the report, released by NASBE last week, also says that the admissions standards for many teacher colleges are unacceptably low. They may not, for instance, require minimum test scores or grade point averages, and many draw candidates from the bottom two-thirds of their college classes.
Transforming that process is essential to raising the overall status of the teaching profession, the authors say.
“As foreign countries endure teacher shortages, they do not lower the standards for admission,” the report says, “but instead find innovative ways to recruit and induct candidates. These methods have yielded much lower attrition rates than the United States’.”
The report urges caution on states creating and adopting new teacher-evaluation and merit-pay systems. It concludes, however, that boosting teacher salaries, in addition to improving working conditions, would likely lure more graduates from the top-third of college classes.
The authors also urge state school boards to work with teacher-licensing boards to align certification requirements and evaluation standards, and ensure that a system is in place to monitor the quality of teacher education programs.
In addition, the authors say state boards and teacher colleges need to make sure that educators-in-training are given a broad range of experiences. Among them: learning to collaborate with colleagues, developing expertise with formative assessment, and spending time in well-monitored teacher-residency programs.
A version of this article appeared in the October 26, 2011 edition of Education Week as School Boards: Raise Standards for Teacher Ed.