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Teachers' Colleges Left Out on 'Race to the Top'

That's one of the major concerns raised by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, on the Race to the Top front.

Whether or not it's an intentional move on the Obama administration's part, it is interesting that while alternative-route programs get a good share of attention in the teacher-quality section of the proposal, traditional education school routes are practically absent.

In comments on the RTTT guidelines, the group's president, Sharon Robinson, recommended that rather than asking states to show the extent to which they encourage alt-route programs, the Education Department should ask states to show whether teacher preparation programs—both those in higher education and alternative routes—partner with school districts to respond to their needs and produce teachers that are effective, as measured by a performance-based assessment.

That's an interesting proposal, but there aren't many states that currently use performance-based licensing tests. California, Arkansas and Ohio are among the few outliers that do use them.

If ED insists on focusing on alternative routes, Ms. Robinson continued, then such teachers should need to complete "substantive coursework" in pedagogy and a rigorous clinical experience before being deemed a classroom "teacher of record." Those recommendations sound similar to the ones advanced by the National Education Association (and which received some criticism from supporters of alternative routes for being too similar to traditional teacher-ed routes.)

Finally, the group raised concerns about the linking of student and teacher data, saying test scores should not be the sole measurement of effectiveness.

"Efforts to incorporate evidence of student learning in evaluations of teachers and principals should ultimately incorporate a balanced set of quantitative and qualitative data that reflect teacher practices and performance in the classroom, as well as a broad range of contributions to student learning," Robinson wrote.

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