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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Some Light Reading

In doing research on teaching, I came across this very good paper on teachers, teaching programs and various outcomes. It is called Fighting the Wrong Battle in the Teacher Preparation Wars by Daniel C. Humphrey and Marjorie E. Wechsler, senior researchers at SRI International.

It's only 3 pages but very good. From the paper:

Intro
Like many education policy debates, arguments over alternative teacher certification versus traditional teacher preparation have been heated, often vitriolic. On one side, proponents view alternative certification as an effective way to put bright and talented individuals into classrooms without forcing them to jump the “meaningless hurdles” of traditional teacher preparation. They claim alternative certification will help diversify the teacher workforce, alleviate shortages in fields such as mathematics and science, and benefit students as teachers bring real-world experiences to the classroom. On the other side, opponents see alternative certification as a threat to teacher professionalism by allowing unprepared individuals into the classrooms of the hardest-to-staff schools. They claim that alternative certification offers teachers a lower-quality preparation and ultimately is a disservice to the neediest students, who end up with the least- prepared teachers. Both sides can point to research that supports their positions and are quick to dismiss research that appears to contradict those positions. However, a growing body of evidence makes it clear that this debate is based on faulty assumptions about teacher preparation programs of all kinds, whether alternative or traditional.
Final paragraph;

The line between alternative and traditional certification is an illusion; the line between effective and ineffective novice teachers is real. If we are to battle over teacher preparation, then the fight should be over the best way to assess and prepare a given candidate to reach the high bar of immediate effectiveness. Arguing about traditional versus alternative certification, when there is so much variation within these categories, does no one good, especially not the neediest students. It is time to rethink what matters in teacher preparation so that all new teachers can be equally successful on their first day on the job.

Ah, and there's the rub. What they are talking about is what's NOT happening (or not fast enough) and TFA has just jumped into the void.

Here are some sites with many other policy papers. I hope to read some of them soon but I offer them as some ideas for you to read as well.
  • The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • SRI study - Characteristics of Effective Alternative Certification
  • SRI study - Insights into Alternative Certification

2 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

I keep thinking that if the training that Teach for America teachers get is so damn good - five week boot camp, mentoring, compulsory continuing education - then why don't we train all of our teachers that way?

Anonymous said...

What is SRI?

thanks,
yumpears