Nov 11, 2013 by

Jim Windham –

We have prolonged the debate over teacher preparation and the primary nominal provider of it for too long, without any appreciable enhancement of the quality of preparation we desperately need for the advancement of student achievement.  We need radical change, beginning with terminating undergraduate teacher preparation as we know it through colleges of education.  We should require aspiring teachers to major in the content area they wish to teach and then reallocate the funding of colleges of education to school districts that would assume the obligation for pedagogical education and mentoring in classroom management.  After all, it is the responsibility of the schools to manage human resources and to be held accountable for teacher performance and student achievement.

When I served on the Texas State Board for Educator Certification, we marginally adopted, with much controversy and opposition by the usual suspects, a temporary teacher certificate that provided for provisional certification of an aspiring teacher who held a bachelors’ degree in the content area in which he/she hoped to teach, passed the necessary background vetting, and passed the relevant certification exam.  The two-year temporary certification period would then be served with a school district employer who would at the end of this apprenticeship determine whether or not full standard certification would be issued, much like the model for certified public accountants.  Unfortunately, subsequent regulatory additions of onerous “guidelines” for implementation of the rule by school districts had the effect of aborting the innovation, and very few temporary certificates were issued, despite the documented demand for them by large numbers of applicants.  But the concept continues to have merit and would have circumvented the college of education control of access to the profession, which as a first step remains a desirable objective.  This, along with the related overhaul of teacher performance and preparation program evaluation, remains the last frontier of reform.


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