Testing Teaching of Teachers Who Test: White House Examines Teaching

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The folks who brought your kids more testing in schools and testing of the teachers who give your kids the standardized tests now plan to bring you tests to see how well teachers are being taught before they enter the classroom.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan today announced a White House plan to look at how well teacher training programs actually prepare people to work in a classroom.

Teachers complain about not enough actual classroom experience, Duncan said on a conference call yesterday with reporters. There is “lots of theory of education, lots of history of education,” but not enough teaching how to use technology or how to manage a group of unruly 10-year-olds.

“Poor programs, what they do is produce teachers who are unprepared or ineffective,” Duncan said. “Too many teachers aren’t ready to teach important subjects like science and technology and engineering and math.”

The Education Department’s work on finding a common denominator for teacher training programs has gone in fits and starts. In 2012, education groups asked Duncan to update rules governing teacher-training programs. They sent their request after talks collapsed between regulators and educators about new rules earlier in 2012.

Better preparing new teachers would increase retention in the profession, Duncan said, citing an Arizona State University program that places students in urban teacher residencies. Eighty percent of graduates of that program are still teaching after three years, compared with only 50 percent of all new teachers nationally.

The Teach for America program, which places top students who are recent college graduates in classrooms in impoverished areas for two years, famously gives its teachers only five weeks of training before throwing them to the wolves, er, putting them in a classroom.

 

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