New rules require Georgia to rate teacher-prep programs

Georgia and states across the nation will be required to develop a system to measure teacher-training programs in the latest attempt by the Obama administration to address teacher quality.

The U.S. Department of Education announced regulations Tuesday that will require states to rate teacher-preparation programs by 2016, both those at colleges and universities and non-traditional kinds such as Teach for America.

“Nothing in school matters as much as the quality of teaching the students receive,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan on a conference call. “We owe it to teachers to give them the best preparation possible.”

States will be allowed to develop their own system but it will have to include a these key components:

– Employment: How many new teachers landed jobs and how many worked in schools and high-need schools after three years?

– Feedback: Surveys on how well new teachers are performing in schools.

– Student performance: How well are the students of these new teachers performing as measured by academic growth, a teacher’s evaluation or both?

– Accreditation: Is the program accredited or is there evidence it is producing high-quality candidates?

Georgia this year passed its own series of new rules making it more difficult for teachers to enter the classroom. Would-be teachers will have to do more upon leaving a prep program, such as score higher on tests measuring how well they know the subject they’re teaching. They’ll also have to pass a new assessment — one only a few states use — to determine whether they can teach.

The significant changes come as Georgia students’ standardized test scores continue to lag other states, consistently ranking in the bottom quarter. Students’ poor academic performance can be tied to teacher quality, according to education experts and advocates, who say Georgia has not kept pace with states that have introduced more rigorous certification requirements and teacher-preparation programs.

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