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What To Do About Lax Standards for Edu-Majors?

I blogged yesterday on Cory Koedel's eye-opening research regarding the inflated grades awarded to undergraduate education majors. In response, several colleagues from the world of teacher preparation have asked what I'd have them do. Not wanting to seem unhelpful, here are a couple suggestions to get things started. (That said, I trust those involved in teacher ed, if they put their minds to it, can readily come up with many more and better.)

First, the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education could insist that institutions calculate and report average GPA for education majors compared to other undergraduate majors. AACTE could then publicly report this information, promoting transparency, while encouraging member institutions to take appropriate steps.

Second, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) could insist upon proof of rigor in undergraduate grading as one piece of evidence used to gauge institutions under Standard 1 of NCATE's accreditation standards ("candidate knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions"). After all, you can't be sure that course completion represents mastery of knowledge or skills absent some faith that instructors are rigorously assessing performance.

Third, department chairs (or ed school deans) could insist on no longer tolerating departmental GPAs that are out of line. They could insist that ed faculty issue grades in a distribution that reflects the undergraduate mean at their institution. A department really seeking to make a point might identify the major with the toughest grade distribution and adopt that.

Fourth, ed faculty from multiple institutions might come together to design common standards and assessments for a number of the core teacher preparation courses. The participants could establish clear grading benchmarks, making it easier for faculty to anchor grades in demonstrated performance and resist the temptations of grade inflation.

Anyway, like I said, these are just intended to get things started. I'm much more interested to see what those engaged in teacher preparation would suggest.

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