Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reflecting the Complete Picture

Teacher education rules must reflect complete picture

"FOR the past two months, I have been immersed in the new proposed rules for teacher education and licensing from the Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.

The Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability represent significant changes to teacher preparation and the licensing of teachers and administrators.

Bennett has said teachers need to know more content. He further implies that if teachers know more content and/or know it better, then students will perform better in school, at least on standardized tests.

Here are a few of my reflections on that premise:

  • First, there is no question that teachers must know and understand content well. They must be able to explain concepts and issues to students from a variety of perspectives and must be able to assist each, individual student with her/his understanding.

  • Yet, I remind myself about the rapidity with which content/knowledge is changing. It will not be enough for any teacher to know only his/ her content well. It will be equally important that each teacher knows how to learn, where to find new information and how to analyze critically new information, in a way to share it with students, and be able to instill those skills in students.

  • Also, it is vital that each teacher knows how individual kids learn, what gets them excited about learning and how to channel their energy and excitement productively into understanding and being able to use new information.

  • A final point is that each teacher needs to have the skills to work with students in our rapidly changing classrooms.
As a teacher-educator and school board member, I worry that the new proposals swing the pendulum too far in one direction without considering the more complete picture about “content,” the importance of teachers’ understanding kids and how they learn and the reality that our classrooms are changing at a great rate."

Jill Shedd is president of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. Board. Comment on REPA  Read this commentary in its entirety here.


1 comment:

  1. As I read the writings in this blog, certain entries stand out. For instance, the assertion in “A teaching nightmare” (09.27.09) where Dr. Bennett’s experts in various fields of knowledge teachers won’t be able to teach reading is a good argument, but incorrectly implies current reading programs work and teachers teach reading well in and across disciplines —and along with responses by Dr. Pat Rogan touting IUPUI’s urban education program as one that “prepares highly qualified teachers and administrators who are equipped to work in diverse urban settings” in his commentary, “This is no time to water down or eliminate requirements” shows this guy has the gift of spin. A look at Indiana and Indianapolis Public Schools graduation rates (view WPP #s below) imply these well prepared teachers are either not teaching here or are not as prepared as thought.

    Let us be more honest with ourselves. Let us improve our ability to connect to urban students. It can be done but (I regret) not in current IUPUI teacher education programs and not by Dr. Bennett’s scheme to bring a corporate mentality to public schools. His ideas must be discredited and abandoned. In addition, IUPUI is not at a national-class level. Although it’s not Columbia Teachers College, it can compete with itself. Indiana and IPS provide unique opportunities to do something uniquely innovate. So, isn’t it time IUPUI’s urban teacher education program finally becomes truly urban? After all, it is in an urban setting. Perhaps a working class, not a middle-class oriented faculty could help.
    “Weak promotion power” (WPP)is defined as the ratio of twelfth graders to ninth graders over a four-year period; that is, the capacity to hold and promote students from ninth through twelfth grade. A school district has weak promotion power when < 50% of freshmen are in12th grade four years later.

    According to the Enrollment data 1999-2003, May, 2004; 2004-2008, Jan. 09. Indiana Accountability System for Academic Progress © 2006 IDOE IPS had 4364 9th graders in the 05-06 school-year. At the start of the 2008-09 year, IPS had 1416 12th graders left out if the 4364=32.5%.

    The 4364/1416 numbers are not just weak promotion power, but very, very weak promotion power.

    The Indiana graduation rate for African American for the class of 2005 is less than 45%.

    Indianapolis Manual High School had, according to the district’s ADM reports, 690 9th graders + 36 “S09” students=726 freshmen in 2005. In 2008 Manual had 163 +2 S12=165 seniors. 165/726 or a promotion power of 22.7%.

    Black Males 2005 102+8 S09=120 & White males 2005 201+15 S09=216; Black Males 2008 21+ 0 S12=21& White males 2008 36+ 1 S12=37:
    21/120=a promotion power of 17.5% for black males
    37/216=a promotion power of 17.1% for white males