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.