Texas among first to toughen standards for colleges of education - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/9/09

Texas among first to toughen standards for colleges of education

By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - New this morning, reaction to stricter standards placed on those that educate teachers.  Texas law makers approved tougher accountability measures this summer, and now leaders are finalizing a rating system.

One of the changes holds teaching programs accountable for how graduates perform on the job. The law directs the State Board for Educator Certification to establish standards for all teaching programs, and if they don't meet requirements, those programs could lose accreditation. That includes those run by universities like Texas Tech, also community colleges, school districts, and for-profit agencies.

One of the standards includes measuring how well students do during the first three years with a new teacher. That could involve linking a teacher's ability to improve test scores to that teacher's training. Right now, the state is still working on a formula, but in theory, they could determine what programs produce the best teachers.

Interim Dean for the College of Education at Texas Tech, Dr. Charles Ruch says accountability is important, and this is a logical step forward in the process. "Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, testing is one of the ways we asses the quality of learning in Texas and in the country. If that's the recognized system, then it's appropriate to hold teachers accountable for that," Ruch said. 

Another change requires ongoing support from the program for first year teachers. Ruch says they already have some guidance in place. "Yes, but probably not at the level we would like to. It is always a shared relationship with the schools. After all, they are employees of the school. It's also a resource problem. That would be over and above what we currently use faculty for, so we'd need more faculty," Ruch said. 

Still, Ruch says more feed back will benefit programs. "Anytime you get good honest feed back, then you have the obligation to say okay, what do we need to do it better. Education is like everything else today, is in that constant improvement cycle," Ruch said. 

The State Board of Educator Certification gave initial approval to the new rules last month, and they're expected to finalize them in February.

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