We finish a two-part series on the teaching profession, with a look at how we prepare our teachers. After criticism claiming credentialing standards in the U.S. are lax, many states, including New Hampshire, are trying to raise the bar and turn out more qualified teachers. Some say more in-classroom experience is key. But there are challenges to such changes, including the expense.
Today, defining a good teacher has become far more complex than we might remember from our own schooldays. Many states now rely on student test scores as a major way to assess teacher quality, while others also use classroom observations, student evaluations, and lesson plan reviews. Backers of tougher assessments argue that since U.S. students as a whole are lagging behind other industrialized nations, something needs to be done. But others worry that these data-driven judgments diminish what’s really important: teachers using their skills and creativity to engage with students .
In his state of the union address in February, President Obama asked for legislative help in making higher education more accessible to American students.
“So tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid. And tomorrow, my administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria -- where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.”
The President’s calls for reform come at a time when an estimated 40 million Americans want to go further with their education. Beyond the rhetoric, Obama’s 2013 budget outlined plans to overcome common barriers to getting a degree, including access, affordability, and completion. An initiative from Southern New Hampshire University is looking to change that.