This week the Committee on the Study of Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States released a report urging the U.S. Department of Education and states to collect more data on teachers and their routes to becoming teachers before initiating widespread reform of education schools and alternative route programs.
The report, Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence and Sound Policy, was published by the National Research Council and funded by the Education Department’s Institute for Education Sciences.
The Committee essentially responded with a “none-of-the-above” statement to the congressional charge to collect and analyze data and research on undergraduate and graduate teacher preparation programs, as well as alternative routes to certification; and determine whether teachers of reading, math, and science were well-prepared for their jobs.
The Committee concluded that “because of the paucity of systematic research as well as the enormous variation in virtually all aspects of teacher education programs and pathways we cannot draw any specific conclusions about the characteristics of current teacher preparation programs.”
According to Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, the Committee Chair, “at a time that people care a lot about education and want to improve it, there is so little known about teacher preparation at a national level. Strong policy has to be built on strong evidence and we don’t have strong evidence.”
The Committee, in the report, calls for research that would compare programs’ selectivity, timing, and characteristics, as well as various means of teaching classroom management skills and how to teach a wide range of students, to help determine essential components of teacher preparation programs.