Teacher Education Reformers Urged to Take Caution

An alliance of leaders in colleges of education across the country have released a statement cautioning against many of the current trends for “reforming” how teachers are prepared for U.S. public schools. In the statement, “Seven Trends to Reform U.S. Teacher Education, and the Need to Address Systemic Injustices,“ over 350 deans and other leaders called for a significant shift in course. The statement begins by declaring that teacher education programs “without a doubt… cannot and should not operate as if all is well, because it is not.” But the leaders then warn that “several current efforts to reform teacher education in the U.S.… are making things worse.” These trends share the fundamental flaw of focusing on hyper-individualistic, market-based solutions linked to failed ideas about student achievement, teacher accountability, rewards, and punishments rather than addressing legacies of systemic injustices in educational institutions and strategies to increase participatory democracy.

The seven trends examined are:
Marketizing teacher education in the hopes that competition and more alternatives will spur self-improvement;
Shaming teacher education in the hopes failing grades will spur self-improvement; Externally regulating teacher education at the federal level with statistically faulty methods for program evaluation;
Externally regulating teacher education at the state level with increased program-entrance requirements that hinder diversity without improving teacher quality;
Internally regulating teacher education with accreditation that relies on problematic standards and use of data;
Assessing teacher candidates with problematic instruments and ways of using them; and
Prescribing practices that too narrowly define the outcomes for students and teachers.
The leaders’ statement highlights research that shows how, “in a number of ways, these approaches lack a sound research basis, and in some instances, they have already proven to widen disparities.” The statement concludes with an alternative vision for teacher education that advances equity and justice in the nation’s schools.

Signing the statement are over 350 current and former leaders in colleges and schools of education across the U.S. The leaders, who include deans, associate deans, directors, and chairs, work in public, private, and religious institutions of higher education across more than three dozen states. The statement was authored by Education Deans for Justice and Equity (EDJE) and prepared in partnership with the National Education Policy Center. EDJE was formed in 2016 as an alliance of deans to address inequities and injustices in education while promoting its democratic premises through policy, research, and practice. “Seven Trends to Reform U.S. Teacher Education, and the Need to Address Systemic Injustices,“ including the list of signatories and endorsements, can be found on the NEPC website at http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/seven-trends.

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