Reinventing Ed School 3: Exit Criteria For Teachers

Folks, it’s been real.  School starts next week.  Thanks to Eduwonk for the chance to blog, and thanks to the commenters for all your thoughts.  

 My final question: 

What would happen if, fueled by twin engines of Gates Foundation and RTTP, the success or failure of each Ed School’s teaching grads becomes transparent?  

1. Would Ed Schools grant a teaching license after completing their coursework, but withhold the masters degree until there was some evidence of classroom success, possibly one full-time year later?  The evidence might be: observation by the university’s own external team (maybe comprised of alums); value-add gains in student tests where possible; and principal evaluation?  

2. Would a Newsweek re-rank the Ed Schools based on these outcomes, and steal US News’s “grad school rankings” thunder in the process?  Will potential customers weigh this data in choosing Ed Schools? 

3. Would university presidents call the Ed School dean in, and say something like “Our university is ranked Top 50, but our teacher training is ranked #487.  The trustees aren’t real happy about that.”

4. Would some Ed Schools split into two institutions, one devoted to research, the other single-mindedly devoted to training rookie teachers? Would a few elite Ed Schools leave the teacher training business entirely?  

5. Would Ed Schools courses beef up the nuts-and-bolts stuff sought in this Eduwonk thread, like “How do I build a productive relationship with parents, and how do I handle irate or crazy ones?”

6. Per above, would schoolteachers who know the nuts-and-bolts stuff suddenly be in demand at the university level?  Instead of being lowly adjuncts getting a couple grand per semester, might there be “Professors Of The Practice” getting real money, offices, assistants, and prestige?  

What would happen?

-Guestblogger Mike Goldstein

4 Replies to “Reinventing Ed School 3: Exit Criteria For Teachers”

  1. #4: this happened at the Unviversity of Chicago many years ago. Their K-8 program, which was an MST program, was terrible so they just ended it.

    With exit criteria/ranking of graduates’ effectiveness, we’d avoid a scenario that I’ve seen more than once: a student who has no chance of being hired as a teacher due to clear inability to manage a classroom based on personality traits, is recruited, enrolled, and milked for tuition, then finally in the last semester s/he flunks student teaching, which everyone except the student knew would happen.

  2. Under our current system of teacher certification and supervision, I don’t think anything would happen. We simply have no infrastructure in place for determining the quality of ed school graduates.

    What we need is a “residency” system similar to that used in medicine. Let’s call it a 2-year residency just to make it a little less costly and let’s make it the responsibility of the certifying institution to supply oversight of their residents.

    Instead of judging the teachers on things like test scores and principals’ evaluations, let’s create standards for the certifying institutions. And let’s fund or de-fund all public institutions which fail to comply.

    This leaves all the private institutions, of course. And it probably doesn’t touch alternative certification routes. But, just as med schools can be ranked, perhaps ed schools could be ranked as well — by ranking the institutions themselves according to the quality of training they offer.

    Tagging graduates to institutions in this scenario would be unnecessary as no certifying institution could confer certification on anyone prior to successfully residency.

    This simple idea of a two-year teaching residency, supervised by a certifying institution, with the same level of attention residents receive from the hospitals in which they work, would likely solve the problems we face in the area of teacher quality.

    Moreover, it would offer a new step on the teaching career path to those “master” teachers would could now serve as “attending” teachers.

  3. Just for the record, you describe a scenario that would be a good idea, but which is antithetical to the REAL WORLD situations that would result from Gates or RttT proposals.

    You write “The evidence might be: observation by the university’s own EXTERNAL team (maybe comprised of alums); value-add gains in student tests where possible; and principal evaluation? [emphasis mine]

    Even a flawed VAM in the hands of independent observors would be a valuable tool. Teachers, especially those of us in inner-city neighborhood schools, can never agree to a system where those same flawed tools are used by administrators with vested interests. REAL WORLD, That would be a suicide pact in too many instances.

    Now if you guys would agree to protections (like a firewall of some sort?) to protect against abuses, a whole range of options are opened.

  4. While the ideal of good practical training is of course appealing, what you propose takes money that schools don’t have. You can’ really expect teachers in residency to pay for the privilege or take a reduction from the appalling starting salary paid some places.

    Even if you do manage to get such a residency program going, why do colleges have to be involved at all? Most employers take responsibility for giving new hires the practical training, supervision and feedback that they need to grow into their job. Why not schools as well? To me, putting the onus on the certification process just allows schools to blame someone else for a job they should be doing.

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