Even though nearly half a decade has passed since a large majority of U.S. states began converting to Common Core, most states are failing to prepare new teachers for the shift in standards, says a critical new report released today by the National Council on Teacher Quality.
NCTQ’s annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook investigates and rates states based on what policies they have in place to ensure high quality for new teachers.
This year’s report puts particular focus on the recent push by both the White House and most state governments to raise educational standards in an effort to ensure that high school graduates are “college and career-ready.”
Common Core, which is the current set of standards used in over 40 states, was designed to be “college and career-ready” and is the main set of standards referred to when policymakers talk about the topic.
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College and career-ready standards are generally considered to be more demanding than those that came before, and they also involve new expectations about how educators will teach material. The most significant shifts are in reading, which is supposed to be taught with a higher number of informational texts and with a greater degree of incorporation into subjects other than English or language arts.
Despite these changes, however, the majority of states have taken half-hearted or no action whatsoever to make sure that incoming teachers grasp how reading is supposed to be taught going forward.
States fall short in a variety of ways when it comes to makes sure new teachers are prepared, NCTQ finds. For example, 14 states still do not require prospective elementary school teachers to demonstrate that they understand the science of teaching children to read, while another 19 require it but use inadequate tests. Only five states require high school teachers to pass content tests in each of the subjects they will be certified to teach.
The report does see areas of significant improvement, however. More and more states are toughening up the admissions requirements to teacher preparation programs by requiring them to have at least a 3.0 GPA or an above-average score on college admissions tests such as the SAT or ACT.
Ironically, of the five states NCTQ praises for making sufficient changes to adapt to higher standards, three of them — Texas, Indiana, and North Carolina — either do not use Common Core or are transitioning away from it.
“With such a profound change occurring in K-12 student standards across the country, it would stand to reason that parallel changes would occur on the teacher side,” said NCTQ vice president Sandi Jacobs. “States need to ensure that new teachers are adequately supported in the transition to higher standards and beyond. And there is no better place to start than where new teachers begin to learn their craft—in teacher preparation programs.”
Some of the funding for the report came from philanthropic organizations with ties to Common Core, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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