Report: Monitoring of teacher preparation programs inadequate

WASHINGTON — Kids get graded by their teachers. Teachers get evaluated by their principals. But who makes sure that the teacher in the front of the classroom attended a teacher preparation program that gives them all the tools they need?

That job falls to states and the District of Columbia. There’s just one problem: A recent federal study found that many states don’t do enough to monitor teacher preparation programs.

The Government Accountability Office looked at the way the states evaluate teacher prep programs, and the findings showed that not only are many states failing to keep a close eye on the quality of training programs, but that the U.S. Department of Education also needs to do more.

Included in the findings is that “seven states are not identifying programs that are ‘poor performing.’” Melissa Emery-Arras, the author of the GAO report, says that’s a serious problem. “We want to make sure that the money going to train teachers is used effectively and that teaching candidates get good experience so that they can teach students. It’s really hard to be a teacher, and you want to go to a program that’s going to prepare you,” she explains.

Emery-Arras says there are some positive developments in the report: “A lot of the programs out there are doing new things to align with teaching standards.”

And she says that means with the training, teachers will walk into the classroom armed to incorporate those standards into their lesson plans. Some programs are also encouraging teachers to get more training in the subject matter, and how to deliver that content to kids.

The GAO calls on the U.S. Department of Education to do more to make sure that every state is monitoring teacher training, especially as the demands on teachers grow with the development of standards such as Common Core.

“We are advising the Department of Education in particular to make sure that all states — not just some of them, but all states — have a process to make sure that programs are performing effectively.”

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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