The National Council on Teacher Quality gave Georgia an overall grade of C in its teacher preparation policies, docking the state points for the lack of selectivity in admissions to teacher prep programs and for ridding classrooms of under performing teachers.
Still, Georgia outperforms the rest of the nation. The average grade nationwide was a D plus.
The report recommends:
Georgia should require programs to use an assessment that demonstrates that candidates are academically competitive with all peers, regardless of their intended profession. Requiring a common test normed to the general college population would allow for the selection of applicants in the top half of their class while also facilitating program comparison.
Requiring only a 2.5 GPA sets a very low bar for the academic performance of the state’s prospective teachers. Georgia should consider using a higher GPA requirement for program admission in combination with a test of academic proficiency. A sliding scale of GPA and test scores would allow flexibility for candidates in demonstrating academic ability.
In addition to ensuring that programs require a measure of academic performance for admission, Georgia might also want to consider requiring content testing prior to program admission as opposed to at the point of program completion. Program candidates are likely to have completed coursework that covers related test content in the prerequisite classes required for program admission. Thus, it would be sensible to have candidates take content tests while this knowledge is fresh rather than wait two years to fulfill the requirement, and candidates lacking sufficient expertise would be able to remedy deficits prior to entering formal preparation
In addressing the readiness of states to teach the new Common Core Standards, the report warns: Unfortunately, Georgia’s policies fail to ensure that elementary teacher candidates will have the subject-area knowledge necessary to teach to these standards.
The council also noted that 86 percent of undergraduate teacher preparation programs in Georgia are not selective enough because they don’t require that candidates come from the top half of the college-going population.
Here is the official statement from the council:
The National Council on Teacher Quality today released its sixth annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook, with a special focus on the state laws, rules and regulations that shape teacher preparation. This 2012 edition of the Yearbook provides Georgia with a tailored analysis, Improving Teacher Preparation in Georgia, which identifies the teacher preparation policy areas most in need of critical attention, as well as “low-hanging fruit,” policies that can be addressed by Georgia in relatively short order.
The state received a grade of “C” for its teacher preparation policies in 2012, with no improvement since 2011. The average grade across all 50 states and the District of Columbia is a “D+”.
NCTQ President Kate Walsh said, “With so much attention on the issue of teacher effectiveness, the relative lack of attention to how candidates for teaching are prepared for the job in the first place is puzzling. The Yearbook provides a road map for policymakers on how to get teacher effectiveness right from the start – by setting higher expectations for what teachers need to know and are able to do before they are licensed to become teachers. Our teachers deserve the very best preparation so that they can step into the classroom and help our students prepare to be the most successful in the world.”
Some of Georgia’s teacher preparation policies most in need of critical attention include:
•Raising admission requirements to ensure that teacher preparation programs admit candidates with strong academic records.
•Ensuring that elementary teachers know their subject matter and have the knowledge and skills to be effective reading teachers so that new teachers are ready to teach to the Common Core State Standards.
•Closing loopholes that allow some secondary science teachers to teach subjects in which they may lack sufficient content knowledge.
•Eliminating generic K-12 special education licenses that lower the bar for special education teachers and make it virtually impossible for the state to ensure that these teachers know their subject matter and are prepared to teach grade-level content.
•Requiring that teacher candidates receive a high-quality summative student teaching experience and are assigned to cooperating teachers who have demonstrated evidence of effectiveness as measured by student learning.
•Establishing minimum performance standards for teacher preparation programs. Although Georgia is one of only eight states that requires the use of student achievement data, minimum standards are necessary to hold programs accountable for the performance of their graduates.
The report also identifies ways that the Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy, the state’s alternate route into the teaching profession, could be improved.
This year’s Yearbook comes in advance of NCTQ’s forthcoming (Spring 2013) Teacher Prep Review of the higher education-based teacher preparation programs in the nation. A key area of focus in both reports is admission standards, and the 2012 Yearbook includes a sneak peek of data from the Review, which finds that 86 percent of undergraduate teacher preparation programs in Georgia are insufficiently selective, failing to ensure that candidates come from the top half of the college-going population.
Walsh continued: “The 2012 Yearbook will serve as an important companion to NCTQ’s forthcoming Teacher Prep Review, which will identify programs that are doing the best job of preparing tomorrow’s educators, those that need to improve and those that need restructuring. The Yearbook’s recommendations can help state policymakers build a strong policy framework for effective teacher preparation so that our teachers get what they deserve: training that provides them with the tools they need to lead a classroom the day they graduate.”
–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog