A new report on the quality of teacher preparation programs across the country has been released by the National Council on Teacher Quality. There is also a focused report just on Kentucky. The news isn’t so good.
“Among the 37 Kentucky programs that were fully evaluated, 10 elementary and 10 secondary programs were strong enough to receive a national ranking.”
The other 17 programs were below national average in performance and were not ranked.
The news article continues, “In student teaching, no programs in Kentucky were found to ensure a high-quality student teaching experience in which candidates are assigned only to highly-skilled teachers and receive frequent concrete feedback.”
That’s pretty disturbing.
Of interest in the school choice discussion, the report shows it is very difficult to get rid of low-performing teachers in Kentucky. That would not happen in a decent charter school.
Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality said in a statement, “The dearth of high-quality programs is a national problem that public school educators, state policy makers and advocates, working alongside higher education, must solve together.”
Kentucky’s overall grade for teacher preparation did edge up from a “D+” in 2009 to a “C” in the 2013 analysis.
However, we only got a “D” in one key area, “Exiting Ineffective Teachers.”
This is a real problem in Kentucky, where tenure laws and union harassment make it virtually impossible to get rid of under-performing teachers who survive their first few years in a school system. Also, as the new report on Kentucky points out on Page 94, awarding of tenure in Kentucky is essentially automatic, and no account of teacher effectiveness is included in the tenure decision. Of note, this generally is not a problem in charter schools in states with strong charter laws.
Charter school leaders also get more control over the selection of their staff members. That ties in to another weak area in Kentucky’s public school teacher preparation programs. Page 2 in the new report on Kentucky shows the Bluegrass State didn’t meet standards for “Teacher Preparation in reading instruction” or “Special education Teacher Preparation.” Those under-prepared teachers in reading and special education never-the-less flow into the state’s traditional public school system. That would be less likely in a properly organized charter school.
Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday and Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King didn’t dispute the new report’s findings and promised improvements are coming.
On a closing note, I should mention that most education schools around the country hate the National Council on Teacher Quality’s annual reports on their performance. Ed School folk argue the reports don’t focus on the right things. Perhaps the focus is incomplete (evaluation programs will always be subject to such challenges by those who don’t like the outcomes); however, the continued lackluster performance of American public school students in worldwide education testing indicates there are problems in the US education system. Also, I think at least some of the things the reports look at make sense and indicate that education schools need to do a lot to clean up their acts.