From the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Are teacher-training programs rigorous enough? A new study, completed by a group that has long criticized the quality of teacher preparation, makes the case that they’re not.
Education students face easier coursework than do their peers in other departments, according to the study, and they’re more likely to graduate with honors.
A report on the study—”Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them,” which is to be released on Wednesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality—argues that a more-objective curriculum for teaching candidates would better prepare them for careers in the classroom.
[…]The council examined more than 500 institutions and found that 30 percent of all their graduating students earned honors. But when it came to education programs, 44 percent of students did so.
The council also analyzed syllabi across multiple majors to determine whether their assignments were “criterion-referenced” (that is, explicitly knowledge- or skill-based) or “criterion-deficient” (that is, subjective). It found that criterion-deficient assignments were more common in teacher-preparation classes than in other disciplines.
As an example of an assignment that the group finds “criterion-deficient,” Ms. Greenberg described a “literacy-history timeline” task that prompts students to reflect on how their own reading skills developed.
“Even if that had relevance to teaching reading, it wouldn’t be the best way to teach anything,” she said. The advocacy group, she added, was “somewhat dismayed by how little many of the assignments seem to connect with the content and skills teacher candidates are really going to need once they enter the classroom.”
If you’re looking for a couple of good books on this problem, try Thomas Sowell’s “Inside American Education” and “Ed School Follies” by Rita Kramer.