Teacher Education Left Behind

Doug Selwyn, a teacher educator at Antioch University in Seattle, offers one more negative consequence of “No Child Left Behind.” In an article in Rethinking Schools Online, Selwyn describes the difficulty his teacher education department has in placing student teachers with good teachers in local schools. The schools are afraid that an inexperienced teacher might cause tests scores to lower.

At least four or five schools we’ve previously worked with have said that they can no longer “afford” to take student teachers because of the pressures of NCLB. They are not willing to risk having an inexperienced student teacher spend weeks working with their students because the students might score lower on the standardized test.

According to Selwyn, when student teachers are placed in schools that have failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), they come back to campus disturbed by the rote memorization, scripted curriculum, and rigid discipline those schools have adopted hoping to raise test scores.

6- and 7-year-olds sitting absolutely still for hours on end, only responding to scripted prompts in prescribed ways, silently walking down the hallways hugging themselves tightly (a self-administered strait jacket) so that they won’t touch other students. They say this is not what they went into education to do.

Selwyn’s article is quite sobering and well worth reading in its entirety. The situation in Idaho is not quite so dire. Schools are still willing to accept their role in helping train future teachers. Nevertheless, it is becoming more and more common for talented and idealistic Idaho students to decide teaching in the current educational climate is not for them.

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