Teachers, like many other professionals, typically receive some explicit, formal training. Elizabeth Green did a brilliant article earlier this spring looking at cutting-edge efforts to better understand which methods work. But as Edward Crowe observes in a CAP report released last week for the most part we’re at such a crude level that states make no effort whatsoever to see whether training programs are doing any good:
State oversight for teacher preparation programs mostly ignores the impact of graduates on the K-12 students they teach, and it gives little attention to where graduates teach or how long they remain in the profession. There is no evidence that current state policies hold programs to high standards in order to produce teachers who can help students achieve. Moreover, every state does its own thing when it comes to program oversight—another barrier to effective quality control.
Whenever you propose trying to measure anything in education, people come out of the woodwork to point out that there are some flaws in almost any measurement system you can devise. This is true enough, but the current practice of simply not measuring whether or not training programs improve teacher performance is even worse. I imagine that the vast majority of teachers and potential teachers would prefer to receive preparation that helps them teach effectively. There are few things more worth investing money in than training and preparing the next generation of teachers, but the investment only works if it’s invested in things that work.