Politics, Moderate



Why teacher preparation programs are crucial for our children

Esther J. Cepeda on

The "2017 State Teacher Policy Yearbook," which is scheduled to be released Dec. 14, acknowledges that it's the close relationship that the NCTQ has with individual states, which provide the organization data, that makes progress on this front possible.

This is especially notable considering that the news this year isn't what anyone would like shouted from rooftops. From 2009 to 2015, the NCTQ had found progress in implementation of policies to improve teacher quality -- things like tightening admission requirements to get more qualified candidates into teaching, adequately preparing teachers in high-need subjects like special education and ensuring teachers are highly qualified in their selected content areas.

But progress has slowed.

As a whole, for nearly 80 percent of states, the policy recommendations that the NCTQ has been pushing have either stalled or decreased, including increasing oversight of teacher preparation programs, moving more qualified people of color into the teaching pipeline and instituting more meaningful teacher evaluation. This was about the same as in 2015 and worse than in 2013, when 60 percent of states made gains.

Frankly, it's easy to be unmoved by such statistics -- it's true that this topic is largely the education industry's version of inside ball.

But parents, pay close enough attention and you might start to see why it really matters.

Next time a note comes home from school or you get the opportunity to visit your kids' classroom, watch for things like misspellings or even inaccurate or politically biased information posted on bulletin boards.

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Maybe you'll ask your child for details about what goes on during the day and suspect that not much goes on at school -- or that your kid's classroom is out of control.

You might even read a local news story reporting that your school is getting dinged on state school report cards for poor performance or for not servicing students with special needs adequately.

Only then will you realize how vitally important the sleepy topic of state teacher-preparation program quality really is to your family and local community.


Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group



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