Rethinking Teacher Ed

January 31, 2013

NCTQ’s Kate Walsh challenges the field

Kate-Walsh-2012-004As teacher educators await the results of a controversial, nationwide review of teacher preparation programs, the leader behind the project made a stop at Michigan State University. It was the first time Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), spoke in a college of education — and the discussions were frank.

“We know that teachers arrive in classrooms not ready to teach on day one,” Walsh said. “There is no reason that a teacher prepared by a traditional program shouldn’t be better prepared than a Teach for America teacher.”

Calling teacher education “a field in disarray,” she outlined common goals in university programs — forming professional identify, confronting assumptions about race and class — that are contributing to a “clear disconnect between teachers prepared in higher education and what’s expected in PK-12.” There is not enough focus, she says, on raising student achievement and training educators to actually practice the best teaching methods.

The NCTQ review is expected to be released in April 2013 as a partnership with U.S. News & World Report. It evaluates more than 1,100 teacher preparation programs based on standards determined with input from superintendents and various experts and evidence gathered via course syllabi, policy manuals, surveys of local school districts, etc.

Although she disagrees with some of NCTQ’s methods, MSU’s teacher education Chairperson Suzanne Wilson invited Walsh as part of an ongoing effort to understand and respond to public criticism about university teacher education. The Marianne Amarel Lecture Series continues on campus this spring.