Amidst criticism from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that too many colleges of education are "cash cows" that send unprepared, ineffective instructors into the nation's classrooms, Texas has become one of the first states to strengthen its standards for teacher training programs, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Last month, Texas' State Board for Educator Certification gave initial approval of a new rating system that will hold training programs accountable for their graduates' job performance. Programs whose teachers chronically fail to help students excel academically could risk having their accreditation revoked. The Board is expected to finalize its approval in February.
Though the Houston Independent School District has been using student test scores to calculate teacher bonuses for a few years, linking student achievement to teacher training is uncharted territory for Texas' largest school district and most other public school districts across the country. But the sheer number of different paths one can take to gain teacher certification in Texas begs for more oversight.
Texas has 177 accredited educator training programs. Some are run by universities and community colleges while others are run by school districts or for-profit companies. In one program a student can become a teacher after just a few months of course work, while other programs require at least a year of rigorous training.