Behind the Headline: A Radically Sensible Proposal for Training Teachers

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A Radically Sensible Proposal for Training Teachers: Make it Easier to Enter, Harder to Stay
2/2/16 | The 74

Behind the Headline
Can We Predict Who Will Be a Great Teacher?
2/2/16 | Education Next blog

On the 74, Matt Barnum writes about a new report arguing for a very different way of training teachers: “instead of raising the bar for those who enter teaching, we should actually lower it, while at the same time, making it tougher to remain in the classroom.”

The new report, by Chad Aldeman and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel of Bellwether Education Partners, is based on years of research “which has generally failed to turn up convincing evidence of the best way to train teachers or on how to predict who will perform well once they start teaching.”

The authors propose that

[All that] states should require to become a teacher is a bachelor’s degree, regardless of major, though anyone could still of course enroll in preparation programs if they, or their schools, believed it helpful. The authors suggest that new teachers be exposed to “low-stakes” opportunities in schools, like tutoring or serving as a co-teacher under the watch of a mentor.

This would give novices the opportunity to learn on the job and figure out whether teaching is right for them, without sinking thousands of dollars into teacher training programs. Schools would benefit from the extra manpower and the opportunity to determine whether a new teacher is a good fit before handing over the classroom keys.

Then, Aldeman and Mitchel argue, teachers should receive their full teaching credentials from a district based on how well they do on the job: “States should strip the power to grant teacher licenses from preparation programs and give that responsibility to the districts where candidates teach.”

Decisions about licensure, and presumably tenure, would be based on — and here’s where things get tricky — “observations of candidates’ performance in real-time classroom settings and demonstrated effectiveness in supporting students’ academic growth.”

For a deeper look at some of the research behind the report and the proposal, please see “Can We Predict Who Will Be a Great Teacher? An Interview with Allison Atteberry” by Chad Aldeman, which appears on the Ed Next blog.

– Education Next

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