Op-Ed: Teacher Training is Crucial Component for Student Success
NJ's brightest and best teachers are essential to producing our brightest and best schoolchildren.
Through a partnership with U.S. News & World Report, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) recently released the NCTQ Teacher Prep Review, a report consisting of a review of more than 1,100 teacher preparation programs from around the country. The ratings show only a handful of teacher preparation programs perform at a high level and a significant number are rated as failing.
I commend the National Council on Teacher Quality for putting a spotlight on the need to get more and better data on the quality of our preparation programs. Educator preparation is a critical component to the educator lifecycle and we must be able to ensure consumers, both candidates themselves and districts that are hiring new teachers, are aware of the differentiation among programs and program quality.
In addition, we must work harder to ensure high-quality candidates are attracted to and entering the profession at a much higher rate. We know, for instance, that only 23 percent of all teachers, and only 14 percent of teachers in high-poverty schools, come from the top third of college graduates. Contrastingly, high-performing countries like Finland and Singapore are recruiting the best and the brightest into the teaching profession.
In New Jersey, we are addressing these issues in a few different ways:
The New Jersey Department of Education has convened a working group of stakeholders including deans and directors of colleges of education, alternate route providers, and P-12 representatives to begin to address improvements to teacher preparation. In addition, the department is piloting innovative principal pipeline providers to serve in some of our highest-need schools, as well as developing supports for schools and districts to strategically recruit and select high-quality teachers and leaders.
As a state board of education, we are currently reviewing newly proposed regulations that increase the bar for entry into the teaching profession and initial licensure, to ensure that all teacher candidates in New Jersey meet a minimum bar.
The state is accessing internal data systems to develop an Educator Preparation Provider Annual Report, which will provide much needed data linking pre-service candidates and in-service candidates back to institutions and programs. Data from this report will include information on candidates’ academic qualifications, gender/race/ethnicity, scores on licensure assessments, job placement in high-needs areas, and evidence of effectiveness in the classroom.
These actions, in conjunction with high-quality educator evaluation, professional development, and recognition for our strongest educators, will help us advance our aim to ensure a high-quality educator in every NJ classroom.
The NCTQ review provides important national insight into the quality of teacher preparation programs. In New Jersey, we must continue to conduct a thorough review of our local policies and programs in order to provide an excellent education for every child in our state.