Friday, January 2, 2015

'Many Oklahoma teachers are entering the profession insufficiently prepared'

"Officials have warned that Oklahoma faces a teacher shortage since many schools struggle to fill all positions with qualified individuals," The Oklahoman notes today in an editorial. "Now a report from the National Council on Teacher Quality highlights another problem: Many Oklahoma teachers are entering the profession insufficiently prepared."
Notably, the report stresses the need for Oklahoma to better prepare teachers to help struggling readers at all levels, from elementary through high school. The council specifically recommends that new elementary teachers be required to “pass a rigorous test of reading instruction in order to attain licensure.” ...
The report also warns of shortcomings in math instruction. In elementary schools, it suggests that Oklahoma officials require prospective teachers to achieve “separate, meaningful passing scores for each core subject” including math. Currently, the report notes, “A candidate may achieve a passing score and still be seriously deficient in a particular subject area."
In high school, the report warns Oklahoma’s teacher certification process can allow unqualified individuals to teach high-level courses. Teachers currently take a general science assessment that combines biology, chemistry and physics; the test doesn’t provide separate scores for each area. Thus, the council notes, “candidates could answer many — perhaps all — chemistry questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach chemistry to high school students.” ...
It’s often noted that teacher salaries in Texas are higher than in Oklahoma. But it appears the bar for entering the teaching profession in Texas is also higher. Thus, simply raising teacher pay in Oklahoma won’t close the education gap with Texas. It seems the teacher challenges facing Oklahoma schools aren’t simply a matter of quantity, but also quality.

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