The Edmond Sun

January 31, 2013

Oklahoma receives 'C' for teacher preparation policies


Special to The Sun

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Council on Teacher Quality recently released its sixth annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook, with a special focus on the state laws, rules and regulations that shape teacher preparation.

This 2012 edition of the Yearbook provides Oklahoma with a tailored analysis, “Improving Teacher Preparation in Oklahoma,” which identifies the teacher preparation policy areas most in need of critical attention, as well as “low-hanging fruit,” policies that can be addressed by Oklahoma in relatively short order.

The state received a grade of “C” for its teacher preparation policies in 2012, with no improvement since 2011. The average grade across all 50 states and the District of Columbia is a “D+".

“With so much attention on the issue of teacher effectiveness, the relative lack of attention to how candidates for teaching are prepared for the job in the first place is puzzling,” said NCTQ President Kate Walsh. “The Yearbook provides a roadmap for policymakers on how to get teacher effectiveness right from the start by setting higher expectations for what teachers need to know and are able to do before they are licensed to become teachers.”

Some of Oklahoma's teacher preparation policies most in need of critical attention, according to the group, include:

• Raising admission requirements to ensure that teacher preparation programs admit candidates with strong academic records.

• Ensuring that elementary teachers know their subject matter and are ready to teach to the Common Core State Standards.

• Disallowing 1-8 teaching licenses that fail to distinguish between teaching elementary and middle school students.

• Closing loopholes that allow some secondary science and social studies teachers to teach subjects in which they may lack sufficient content knowledge.

• Eliminating generic K-12 special education licenses that lower the bar for special education teachers and make it virtually impossible for the state to ensure that these teachers know their subject matter and are prepared to teach grade-level content.

• Requiring that student teachers are assigned to cooperating teachers who have demonstrated evidence of effectiveness as measured by student learning.

• Setting minimum performance standards for teacher preparation programs and holding them accountable for the performance of their graduates.

The report also identifies ways that Oklahoma could improve its alternate routes to certification.

This year’s Yearbook comes in advance of NCTQ’s forthcoming (Spring 2013) Teacher Prep Review of the higher education-based teacher preparation programs in the nation.

The State Teacher Policy Yearbook was funded by private foundations across the United States, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Joyce Foundation and The Walton Family Foundation. NCTQ accepts no funding from the federal government.

Improving Teacher Preparation in Oklahoma, which includes national data and state-by-state comparisons of teacher preparation policies, is immediately available for free download at www.nctq.org/stpy.

The National Council of Teacher Quality — comprised of reform-minded Democrats, Republicans and Independents — is a non-partisan research and policy group committed to restructuring the teaching profession based on the belief that all children deserve effective teachers. More information about NCTQ, including a list of the board of directors and advisory board, can be found on the NCTQ website, www.nctq.org.