US colleges identify shortcomings in teacher training

The key to maintaining US leadership in science and engineering may rest not primarily with universities’ science and engineering programmes but rather with their schools of education, experts have told Congress. As the US continues on a path to becoming majority non-white, the substantially lower average levels of school performance among minority students, especially in the sciences and engineering, emerge as an increasingly critical barrier to better college-level performance and make the need for high-quality teaching ever more acute, education experts told a Capitol Hill hearing. The solution, the experts said, centres on helping colleges improve their teacher training systems, largely by extending the periods of in-classroom coaching that are offered or arranged by schools of education. “Learning to teach is a complex task that requires intensive school-based experiences,” Andrew P. Daire, dean of the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University, told the US House of Representatives’ Education Committee. Without plenty of such hands-on preparation, Dr Daire told lawmakers, teachers tend to leave their jobs because of factors such as poor performance and frustration. That failure, data show, is far more likely in the toughest subjects and in the schools serving the disadvantaged students who most need the help.

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