Before stepping into her own classroom, Allison Brown wanted to
be prepared for everything that becoming a teacher would throw at
Planning and teaching a lesson. The best way to help students who
are ahead, as well as those struggling. Handling a phone call from a
concerned parent. Helping those with problems outside the classroom.
I wanted to make sure I was going to be good at it for (the
students), said Brown, as she walked with the third-graders she co-
taught at Valley Park Elementary earlier this month. And that I was
going to be happy doing this for the rest of my life.
Brown sought a university program with lengthy classroom
experience built into its requirements. As a student co-teacher this
past semester, shes participating in a movement to revamp teacher
preparation programs in Missouri and across the country.
Just recently, the American Federation of Teachers proposed that
all prospective teachers in the country take a rigorous bar exam to
gauge how well they master a subject and demonstrate the ability to
But already, Missouris Board of Education is moving forward with
increased standards for the profession. The state recently adopted
evaluations that will assess some teachers, in part, on how well
students fare on state exams.
Now the state is going further.
Under a plan approved last month, the state will zero in on the
effectiveness of teacher colleges.
The plan includes more frequent report cards on the colleges
performance, a more uniform evaluation of student teachers, and
higher grade-point average requirements for those in the program.
What were looking to build is a way to capture that performance
and score whether or not that teacher is doing a good job in the
classroom before they get into their own, said Hap Hairston,
director of educator preparation for the Missouri Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education. Are we getting the right people
to go into teaching, and are you developing them with what they need
The tests teachers currently take to get into the profession have
been criticized as not being rigorous enough. Cut scores are low,
and prospective teachers can take the test as many times as they
need to until they pass, critics say.
Missouri certified 5,615 teachers in 2009-10, an increase of
about 8.5 percent from 2007-08 in those who complete traditional
programs. The state also allows alternative routes to teaching,
which have doubled in popularity in the past few years. A 2008 law
allows anyone with a bachelors degree and a 2.5 grade-point average
to earn teacher certification through a combination of online
courses and 60 hours of teaching.
A MODEL APPROACH
Statewide, there are 39 preparation programs at four-year
institutions, and all have different ways of evaluating how student
teachers perform in front of classrooms.
For Brown, who is graduating from Maryville University, it was
the edTPA, an initiative developed by educators and researchers at
Stanford University that several states are trying out.
The teacher performance assessment was one of the most
challenging parts of her program, Brown said. It required her to
film and critique her teaching, and judge herself based on what the
students learned from her lesson. …