Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Coments on Ed School Quality

In my email last night, I didn't say every school of education is pathetic.  One very notable exception is the Hunter College School of Education under the leadership of Dean David Steiner.  Dean Steiner has been the skunk at the ed school garden party ever since he published a study a few years ago documenting (according to one article, "the depth to which ed schools impart a leftist leaning "edu-dogma," where discourse is dangerously limited, where there is a lack of important historical and contemporary perspectives, and where pedagogical approaches are championed for their ideology rather than their effectiveness.") To read his article in Education Next about his study, see:
Dean Steiner is on my email list and wrote the following in response (shared here with his permission):


As you may know, I  have been an outspoken critic of ed. schools. My research of "top" ed. schools showed programs stuffed with required courses that used little or no research-based material, treated student teaching as if it were a side-show rather than the central element of a serious teacher preparation program, and used required reading materials from only one side (the left) of the political  spectrum.

But before throwing contempt on ed. schools, note that Art Levine in his full report cites a number that in his view are doing a serious job. At the school of education at Hunter College, I am proud that three of the best charter school networks -- KIPP, Uncommon Schools and Achievement First -- are partnering with us to co-design and co- teach a certification and masters program. The program, currently in its pilot year, integrates student-teachers' work in their schools with their study of that work in our classrooms, and has its goal as nothing less than demonstrated, measurable impact on student learning.  As a whole, we at Hunter are shifting what we do as a school of ed. from inputs to outputs. One example: within three years every one of our students will be videotaped in their student teaching and have those videos rigorously analyzed. At the same time we are indexing those videos so that our entire faculty can use them as case studies. We will use weaknesses we see in the performance of our student-teachers in these videos to back-engineer our  programs, focusing on what matters.

Soon we expect that all teacher education programs in New York City will be told where their graduates rank in terms of the value-added they produce in the city's classrooms. The data --  produced in a major study by Pam Grossman, Jim Wyckoff and their team --  currently focuses on childhood education, where the numbers are great enough to generate robust statistics. No matter where Hunter comes out (and the first full data will be at least four years old), I welcome this study as a critical step toward getting serious about holding ed. schools accountable for the quality of their teacher preparation. I cannot wait until our current programs, for which I have responsibility, are measured, and the results made  available to me so that I know where improvements to our programs are most immediately required. If any school of ed. consistently graduates teachers who fail to perform effectively in the classroom, then indeed that school of education should be closed down.

If outstanding teacher  preparation were not needed, top charter schools would not pour vast resources of time and effort into professional development. I think your readers  should know that some of us are indeed working to transform schools of education into true partners in this effort. We are moving deliberately towards becoming results-oriented, accountable institutions dedicated to  graduating only effective teachers.

For more on ed school idiocy, see this City Journal article: and this book, Ed School Follies (

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