As education policymakers untangle the implications of last week's California court ruling that declared teacher tenure laws unconstitutional, an education think tank says its comprehensive survey of college teacher preparation programs shows they rarely provide new teachers with solid skills for the classroom.
The National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington group that advocates tougher teacher evaluations, said its second annual evaluation of teacher preparation programs, released on Tuesday, found that only 7 percent performed well enough to achieve "top status." Only 1 in 15 programs provide new teachers with "solid preparation," according to the group's director, Kate Walsh. Three out of four programs "fail to insist that applicants meet even modest standards," the group wrote, meaning at least a 3.0 grade point average, or scoring above the 50th percentile on the ACT or SAT.
"The whole set of issues that Vergara concerned itself with were what happened to teachers when they're already in the classroom," Walsh said, referring to the Vergara v. California tenure case. "The Vergara case, as supportive as we were of it, is emblematic of the country's focus on teacher quality. That's been very encouraging ... but we've had the debate with almost no regard for teacher selection or preparation. The debate in that respect has been short-sighted."