The Path to Improving Teacher Education

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released its long-anticipated draft regulations regarding teacher education. The regs focus on several key areas, including a state-based approach to improvement, the need for employment metrics (including how long teachers stay in the profession and how their employers rate them), student learning outcomes, and accreditation.

For those looking to better understand exactly what is in the regs, EdWeek’s Stephen Sawchuk has the best primer on the regs, their meanings, and the initial reactions from the education community. You can find the full article here.

Lyndsey Layton at the Washington Post has an excellent write-up of the announcement. So, too, does the New York Times’ Motoko Rich. And if you can get beyond the firewall, Caroline Porter of the Wall Street Journal offers some great analysis as well.

Of course, dear ol’ Eduflack is particularly partial to the analysis Arthur Levine offered to these teacher ed regs. The president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the former president of Teachers College at Columbia University, Levine called the new proposed regs “an important step forward” in a Huffington Post commentary. Levine continued:

All of us involved in teacher education should look for ways to strengthen these regulations and improve the teacher prep process. But let us be clear: we need real action now. Our colleges and universities have waited far too long to transform these programs to meet the needs of both today and tomorrow. We cannot afford to wait as another generation of teachers passes through programs that are lacking. In the states where Woodrow Wilson has worked, we have seen a real hunger — from state leaders, from school districts, and from colleges themselves — to enact the sort of changes needed. We must act together — and swiftly — to change the very fabric of teacher education nationwide. These regulations are the first step toward achieving that.

The regs now move into their “public comment” period. Groups like AACTE, AFT, and NEA have already weighed in with their concerns (or opposition). Other groups like Education Trust, DFER, and Urban Teacher Center have come out strongly in support of the new direction.

Regardless, it is heartening to see a focus on teacher education and the need to improve how we prepare teachers for the classroom. While all might not agree on the specific action steps needed to get us to the intended destination, none can argue that the current model, a model we have been using to prepare teachers for generations, is the most effective and valuable way to prepare 21st century educators for the challenges of the 21st century classroom.

(Full disclosure, Eduflack works with Levine and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and has worked with AACTE, AFT, NEA, EdTrust, and UTC.)

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