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GUEST COLUMN: Who’s Teaching our Teachers?
Start Date: 6/21/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 6/21/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description

By State Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City)

We all know that the quality of teachers can affect how well our students learn. In the same way, the quality of our colleges’ teacher education departments has a direct impact on how prepared teachers are when they begin their careers.

With that in mind, it’s worthwhile for Hoosiers to ask, how well are Indiana’s teacher education programs performing?

Recently, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) published a report that compares colleges’ and universities’ teacher education programs, using measures such as course syllabi, textbooks and other academic experiences and materials. The purpose of this study was to determine just how well these schools were preparing their students to teach our children.

Indiana’s results were concerning. Of all teacher preparation programs in our state, only two earned three out of four possible stars for their elementary or secondary education programs. In fact, NCTQ reported that 90 percent of our universities’ teaching programs failed to provide an adequate student teaching experience, leaving our aspiring educators without crucial hands-on experience in classroom management. The report also found that our schools fail to prepare special education teachers, and 100 percent of elementary education programs do not offer adequate curriculum on teaching English language learners.

Additionally, NCTQ noted that only 5 percent of Indiana’s colleges and universities earn four stars on collecting data on their graduates – compared to 26 percent nationwide. Among the organization’s recommendations, it urged our state to gather data to monitor these preparation programs and set minimum standards for performance, along with consequences for failure to meet those requirements. This all must be publicly reported, the study recommended.

That’s where my 2013 legislation – Senate Enrolled Act 409 – comes into play. This new law requires the Department of Education to develop performance standards to rate Indiana’s teacher preparation programs. Data required to be publicly disclosed under this bill includes the following:

  • The retention and completion rates of its students
  • Students’ average scores on teacher licensure tests
  • The maximum number of times each individual took these tests before passing them
  • The percentage of graduates who obtain full-time and part-time teaching positions and the names of their employers

While many schools do a great job of preparing our future educators in some respects, this study has shown us that we need to do more. The education field is unique because it directly affects how others may perform in their future careers. For that reason, we must ensure that our colleges and universities are properly preparing their graduates to teach our children.

I encourage our higher education administrators and future teachers to take this issue seriously. While our state has come a long way in improving education, there are many pitfalls we still need to overcome. As this law takes full effect, I look forward to seeing new accountability for teacher preparation programs, which will help our graduates become better educators and our current students become better learners.

Contact Information:
Name: Tracy Lytwyn
Phone: 317-234-9221
Email: tlytwyn@iga.in.gov
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Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • IN.gov Category:
  • Education & Training
  • Agency Name
    Senate Republican Caucus

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