Missouri officials raise standards for future teachers and their training programs

December 26, 2012

Ben Velderman Ben Velderman

Ben was a communications specialist for EAG from 2010 until August 2014. He is a former member of the Michigan Education Association.
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The ongoing debate over how to improve the nation’s public schools has produced at least one point of agreement among reformers and education establishment leaders: We need better-trained and more-talented teachers in the classroom.

AimhigherMissouri’s Board of Education has taken that message to heart and approved a new plan that will impose higher standards on both aspiring educators and the state’s 39 teacher training programs, reports StlToday.com.

According to the news site, Missouri’s teachers-to-be will face higher grade point average requirements, and student teachers will be evaluated with a new, uniform system that will “determine whether they should become teachers” or not.

The state will also begin issuing “a new annual report card for teacher prep programs to review their accreditation status more frequently than in the past,” according to the news report. Teacher colleges will be examined every year – instead of every seven years, as called for by the former plan – with “a more clear and concise metric system that is still being hammered out.”

The new standards are a significant improvement over the old ones, which allowed “anyone with a bachelor’s degree and a 2.5 grade-point average to earn teacher certification through a combination of online courses and 60 hours of teaching,” according to the news site.

Beginning in March, the Show-Me State will require most future teachers to maintain a 2.75 grade-point average. Future math teachers will be held to an even higher GPA standard of 3.0.

State education official Hap Hairston said the higher standards are meant to ensure that the right people are entering the profession and that the training programs are preparing them adequately.

“What we’re looking to build is a way to capture that performance and score whether or not that teacher is doing a good job in the classroom before they get into their own,” Hairston said.

Missouri isn’t the only state in need of higher standards, judging from the lousy student achievement data that Americans have been hearing about for years. Unfortunately most states have done little or nothing to address the problem.

“Out of more than 2,000 teacher prep programs in the country, only 38 programs were identified in 2010 as being at risk of losing accreditation, according to a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Education,” reports StlToday.com.

That number should clearly be much higher.

Missouri’s methods for improving its future teaching corps – higher grade requirements and more rigorous evaluation methods – are a good first step. But Americans must also demand that teacher training programs ditch the left-wing political propaganda that college professors have been spoon-feeding their students for decades.

Only then will Americans start seeing better teachers in their children’s classroom – and better-equipped students graduating from their neighborhood schools.

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