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U.S. Adults Support Longer, More Rigorous Teacher Prep, Poll Finds

Americans generally think teacher preparation should be more rigorous and include more time for candidates to practice under the tutelage of experienced teachers, according to the results of a new Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll.

The wide-ranging survey includes adults' perspectives on testing, curriculum, and school health, as well as on the teaching profession. It's based on a representative sample of some 1,000 adults and has a margin of error is +/- 4.6 percentage points.

Most interesting among the teacher-related questions was the finding that 60 percent of respondents said that teacher preparation should have more rigorous entrance requirements, an increase from two years ago, when 57 percent thought so.

And Americans seem to think that more time practicing teaching would improve training. When asked how long a candidate should spend working with another teacher, a plurality said it should last at least a year. Just 4 percent said it should be only six weeks long. (In 2009-10, the median amount of time offered by traditional education programs in the United States for student-teaching was 500 hours, according to the U.S. Department of Education.)


Americans also were overwhelmingly in favor of requiring teachers to pass board certification in addition to earning a degree, with 81 percent of respondents supporting the idea. (The question is prefaced by a notation that medicine and law require board certification in order to be licensed, so keep that formulation in mind.) 

There has been much talk lately about improving teacher preparation, despite a lack of consensus about the right way to do so. Just recently, for instance, we heard about renewed debates about a nongovernmental group's teacher-prep ratings effort; a national accreditor for the programs approved higher standards; and soon, the U.S. Department of Education is expected to release long-delayed regulations on teacher-preparation reporting and accountability.

In the meantime, make sure to read Emily Richmond's analysis of the poll and its teacher-prep implications at her Education Writers Association's blog.

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