National Academies Press: OpenBook

Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy (2010)

Chapter: Appendix A: Dissent, Michael Podgursky

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Dissent, Michael Podgursky." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
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Appendix A
Dissent, Michael Podgursky

This report goes beyond our charge from Congress. We were not asked to make recommendations about how teachers ought to be prepared or the necessary preparation of teachers. We were not asked to make recommendations to states about how they should approve teacher training programs. There is simply no scientific research basis for making these recommendations.

Congress asked us to assess available data on teacher preparation programs in the United States and whether the training teachers receive is consistent with scientifically based research. If reliable data are lacking (as they clearly are), we were to make recommendations regarding data collection.

Since the body of scientifically based research on teacher preparation is very thin, the committee chose to rely heavily on descriptive and qualitative studies, as well as the opinions of panels of teachers and teacher educators. This evidence is then reported in ways that obfuscate the weak research base for the recommendations. The report frequently asserts that these various types of evidence are consistent, but it fails to provide supporting documentation.

The proposals for data collection are not well thought out. Clearly it would be useful to know more about what teacher training programs do. However, the rather nebulous language used to describe elements of such a database are not helpful or practical. The proposal for a national longitudinal survey on teacher candidates is not well developed.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Dissent, Michael Podgursky." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Dissent, Michael Podgursky." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
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Page 205
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Dissent, Michael Podgursky." National Research Council. 2010. Preparing Teachers: Building Evidence for Sound Policy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12882.
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Page 206
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Teachers make a difference. The success of any plan for improving educational outcomes depends on the teachers who carry it out and thus on the abilities of those attracted to the field and their preparation. Yet there are many questions about how teachers are being prepared and how they ought to be prepared. Yet, teacher preparation is often treated as an afterthought in discussions of improving the public education system.

Preparing Teachers addresses the issue of teacher preparation with specific attention to reading, mathematics, and science. The book evaluates the characteristics of the candidates who enter teacher preparation programs, the sorts of instruction and experiences teacher candidates receive in preparation programs, and the extent that the required instruction and experiences are consistent with converging scientific evidence. Preparing Teachers also identifies a need for a data collection model to provide valid and reliable information about the content knowledge, pedagogical competence, and effectiveness of graduates from the various kinds of teacher preparation programs.

Federal and state policy makers need reliable, outcomes-based information to make sound decisions, and teacher educators need to know how best to contribute to the development of effective teachers. Clearer understanding of the content and character of effective teacher preparation is critical to improving it and to ensuring that the same critiques and questions are not being repeated 10 years from now.

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