Guest Opinion: Will Your Child's Teacher Be Prepared This Fall?

By Matthews, Heidi | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), August 2, 2018 | Go to article overview

Guest Opinion: Will Your Child's Teacher Be Prepared This Fall?


Matthews, Heidi, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


Will your student have a prepared, qualified teacher leading her classroom when she goes back to school this fall?

At one time, you could be assured that most anyone with a teaching license had graduated from a rigorous university program where he or she received subject-specific instruction as well as extensive coursework in child development, learning theory and teaching methods. A teaching license required student teaching experience, working in a classroom under the tutelage of a practiced educator. Licensed teachers were then selected and hired from a field of qualified candidates who all participated in this laborious process before finally being given the responsibility of leading a classroom of students. This process helped assure our teachers were qualified and prepared.

Jump forward to 2018. Utah is experiencing a severe teacher shortage. Schools face a very real challenge in staffing each classroom. Primarily in response to this shortage, the Utah State Board of Education has proposed significant changes to teacher licensing. These changes will enable schools to hire more teachers more quickly, but at what cost?

While an alternately prepared teacher may develop into an excellent teacher, the concern is timing. University-prepared teachers enter the classroom with a certain level of knowledge, training and experience. Some alternately prepared teachers gain that knowledge and experience on the job ... after they are in the classroom instructing students. This puts student learning at risk.

Inadequate and inconsistent standards of teacher preparation and licensing create an issue of equity for students. Utah licensing data show too many underprepared teachers already working in charter schools, in schools serving communities of color and in rural and low-income schools. It’s just not possible that two such different preparation pathways will ensure every student has equitable access to highly effective teachers. …

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