Back in March of 2011, when Ohio was in the midst of the Senate Bill 5 fight, Republicans in the General Assembly passed a law that didn’t garner much attention save for a moronic statement by Governor Kasich at the bill’s signing.
The change in Ohio Revised Code 3319.22(1) now requires the Ohio Department of Education to grant a 4-year Resident Educator License (new teacher license) to Teach for America, Inc. participants. These individuals clearly do not meet the qualifications that are spelled out in Ohio Administrative Code for teacher preparation programs in the State of Ohio that were put in place to ensure the quality of the teachers that we put in front of children.
By adopting those changes in state law, Ohio’s Republican legislators lowered the quality of teaching for future children by lowering the current standards for teacher preparation. Teach for America, Inc. is touted as bringing the best and the brightest to the classroom, but we have always done so in Ohio through existing state laws requiring universities to provide rigorous teacher preparation programs.
To drive this point home, we have constructed a comprehensive comparison of the Teach For America, Inc. program vs. the teacher licensing process that Ohio already had in place.
A Comparison of Teach for America, Inc. vs. Ohio’s Standards
Teach for America:
Corps members attend a five-week institute in one of eleven locations, depending on their regional placement. During institute, corps members teach summer school for four of five weeks and help their students master critical content for the fall. Corps members teach summer school students for an average of two hours each day and are observed by experienced teachers. For one of the two hours, they lead a class to master academic content, and build their own skills in delivering lessons and managing a classroom. For the other hour, most corps members work with four to five students to build skills in math and reading and gain experience in leading small group instruction. (http://www.teachforamerica.org/why-teach-for-america/training-and-support/summer-training)
Current Ohio Law:
A minimum of twelve weeks of full-time student teaching [7.5-hour days] and a minimum of one-hundred clock hours of field experiences prior to student teaching. (http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/3301-24-03)
Ohio State University Master of Education Program:
The Master of Education (M.Ed.) program in the Department of Teaching and Learning leads to a post-baccalaureate degree designed for those individuals who seek to earn their initial four-year Ohio license while completing graduate studies and research in their chosen field of study. All M.Ed. programs at The Ohio State University are fully accredited through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and our programs have been consistently ranked among the top premiere programs in the United States. M.Ed. students are placed for field experiences (observation, participation, internship) in schools in fall and spring semesters for increasingly richer experiences. These placements collectively provide 700 clock hours in the schools spread over 150 days (of the typical 180-day school calendar). The placements are in schools in Franklin County with each student experiencing urban and suburban school classrooms. (http://ehe.osu.edu/teaching-and-learning/academics/med/)
Teach for America:
- Bachelor’s Degree
- 2.50 Minimum Cumulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale)
- US Citizenship or National/Permanent Resident Status
- On the application you’ll be asked to complete three short-answer questions about why you want to join Teach For America and other topics.
- On your resume, you should highlight your academic and professional achievements and leadership experience. Academic achievement includes your cumulative GPA, participation in honors programs, inclusion in dean’s lists, or other notable awards. Leadership can be displayed through a variety of experiences including extracurricular activities, work experience, managing teams, and more.
- Phone/online interview
- Full day interview
Ohio State University Master of Education Program:
- Bachelor’s degree
- Minimum 3.0 overall GPA (on a 4.0 scale) (Students with an overall GPA less than a 3.0 MUST take the General Test of Graduate Record Exam (GRE) to be eligible for admission to the MEd Otherwise, the GRE is not required for admission.; In addition to a 3.0 overall GPA, most Licensure Areas require a certain GPA in their content or prerequisite courses.
- Experience working with youth in various group settings
- English Proficiency Test Score Requirements (International Applicants only): 550 on the Paper-Based TOEFL, 79 on the Internet-Based TOEFL, 82 on the MELAB, or 7 on IELTS. This is not a requirement for applicants who have or will have a bachelor’s or higher degree from a country where English is the native language.
- Statement of Intent: Must be typed, double-spaced, and no longer than 4 pages. Statement should include: Intended Licensure Area and if applicable, Specialization(s), Semester/Year of Intended Enrollment; Discuss and reflect on experiences you had with children/adolescents and what you learned from these; What contributions do you want to make as a teacher?; Discuss a current issue in education that is important to you.
- Letters of Recommendation: Three letters are required; at least one academic and another from experiences working with children or adolescents in a learning environment.
- Resume: Must be typed and no longer than 2 pages. Resume needs to include: Academic Background (major, minor); Academic Accomplishments (scholarships, fellowships, awards, etc.); Relevant Experiences with children/adolescents; Other Involvement, Service, Work experiences
A look at only the admission requirements and the teacher preparation processes already reveals that Ohio’s are more rigorous than those required by the Teach for America, Inc. program, but there’s even more to consider.
If Republican legislators truly believe that the Teach For America, Inc. program creates teachers who are more effective, then why would they limit its influence to so few students and only allow placement in urban areas (per TFA, Inc.)?
If Republican legislators truly believe that this is in the best interest of students in the state of Ohio, then shouldn’t they just make this the standard process for teacher preparation?
They can start by eliminating OAC 3301-24-03.C.6. which states:
(C) A college or university which seeks state board of education approval to prepare teachers shall request approval to offer a program leading to a specific type of license as designated in rule 3301-24-05 of the Administrative Code. Approval by the state board of education shall be based on evidence of coursework and experiences designed to include the following:
(6) A minimum of twelve weeks of full-time student teaching and a minimum of one-hundred clock hours of field experiences prior to student teaching.
While Teach For America, Inc. only requires 50 hours of cooperative teaching during a summer school program, Ohio state law requires that prospective teachers complete a minimum of 460 hours of field experience, including 12 weeks of student teaching, with typically 6 of those weeks being full days of independent instruction, under the supervision of a university professor(s).
Consider that these university programs come at a huge price to both students and universities, and if they produce less effective educators, then Ohio’s Republican legislators need to propose that we eliminate this requirement statewide. Such a change would accelerate the process for all future educators to get into the classroom in all schools, not just a select few in the urban areas. Would we ever expand this program into wealthy Columbus suburbs like Upper Arlington, Westerville, Olentangy, and Dublin? If our legislators truly want what is best for our students, and if they believe that means teachers with less practice in the actual teaching of students means better results, then they need to move this idea forward.
Don’t hold your breath…
Back in 2011, the sponsor of the TFA legislation, Senator Cates, in an email response to us stated:
“Research has shown that TFA has a proven record of success in teaching students in hard-to-staff urban and rural schools. Researchers at the University of North Carolina conducted a study of teacher impact of TFA versus UNC graduates of its own teacher preparation system. Researchers found that TFA teachers had a larger impact in high school math, science and English and UNC grads. The state of Tennessee studied all 42 teacher preparation programs in the state. They found that TFA members outperformed the average new teacher across all subject areas and grade levels making TFA the top performing new teacher preparation program in the state.”
It was wonderful that the Senator referenced research studies in his response. He mentioned that TFA, Inc. members were found to have outperformed their University of North Carolina counterparts. Of course, since he did not cite the report, we were unable to specifically address the reporting methods and data sets used. So, giving Senator Cates the benefit of the doubt, let’s look at why North Carolina might have reported success with Teach for America, Inc. corps members and examine whether or not it changes the fact that we should not welcome Teach for America, Inc.’s lower-standard program into Ohio.
Since North Carolina was the Senator’s state of choice, let’s compare North Carolina’s and Ohio’s Teacher Preparation programs.
Consider the following information from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). “NCATE is the profession’s mechanism to help establish high quality teacher preparation. Through the process of professional accreditation of schools, colleges and departments of education, NCATE works to make a difference in the quality of teaching and teacher preparation today, tomorrow, and for the next century. NCATE’s performance-based system of accreditation fosters competent classroom teachers and other educators who work to improve the education of all P-12 students. NCATE believes every student deserves a caring, competent, and highly qualified teacher. The accreditation covers all educator preparation programs. (http://www.ncate.org)”
North Carolina has 42 accredited institutions.
Ohio has 39 accredited institutions.
Listed below are the number of institutions that have Nationally Recognized Programs in the specified content areas:
English (As recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English)
North Carolina – 0
Ohio - 28
Foreign Language (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)
North Carolina – 0
Ohio - 19
Math (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)
North Carolina - 1
Ohio - 31
Science (National Science Teachers Association)
North Carolina – 0
Ohio - 28
Social Studies (National Council for the Social Studies)
North Carolina - 1
Ohio - 33
Despite having more accredited institutions overall, North Carolina’s subject-specific teacher preparation programs fall short of Ohio’s high standards. In these five areas alone that cover the majority of secondary education programs at Institutions of Higher Education, Ohio has received National Recognition for 139 programs while North Carolina has been recognized for 2. Why would Ohio use North Carolina’s teacher preparation programs as a benchmark? Ohio’s universities already produce high quality educators, demonstrating no need for a decrease in standards as are being brought to Ohio by Teach for America, Inc.
Now consider some statistics from the United States Department of Education (The Secretary’s Seventh Annual Report on Teacher Quality: A Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom):
Number of individuals completing Traditional Route programs
North Carolina: 3,909
Number of individuals completing Alternative Route programs
North Carolina: 749
Total number of individuals completing programs
North Carolina: 4,658
- North Carolina has fewer than half as many individuals completing traditional programs than Ohio does, yet over 200 more individuals completing alternative route programs.
Number of tests given for teacher certification
North Carolina: 21
- Ohio has implemented twice as many post-education teacher exams to ensure program fidelity across the state and ensure that teachers are properly prepared in their respective specialty areas.
Percentage of teachers certified who were trained in another state
North Carolina: Greater than 40%
Ohio: Less than 10%
Collectively, these numbers demonstrate the lack of quality teacher preparation programs in North Carolina and demonstrate the state’s desperate need to try and attract teachers from elsewhere (i.e., Teach for America, Inc.). By contrast, Ohio is self-sufficient in preparing and retaining high quality teachers and is a place where other states recruit to fill their teaching vacancies.
And finally, what is the effect of all of this on the performance of students? How do students fare after their many years of learning in their respective states?
North Carolina appears to favor the SAT test, while Ohio appears to favor the ACT. Both states have data on each test.
SAT (score out of 2400)
- North Carolina had a participation rate of 71% and an average composite score of 1485 and ranked 39th nationally.
- Ohio had a participation rate of 27% and an average composite score of 1608 and ranked 22nd nationally. (http://www.collegeboard.org/)
An argument in defense of North Carolina would likely be that they have nearly all of their students participate in the SAT and therefore have numbers that represent all students, whereas the Ohio students most likely represent the top-tier of students, those who are taking both SAT and ACT to widen their college options. All this would prove is that Ohio’s top students achieved higher scores than North Carolina’s average students. A fair point, so let’s look for the opposite effect in the ACT results.
ACT (score out of 36)
- North Carolina had a participation rate of 16% and an average composite score of 21.9, ranking 21st nationally.
- Ohio had a participation rate of 66% and an average composite score of 21.8, ranking 24th nationally. (http://www.act.org)
Where’s the expected opposite effect? Unlike the SAT results, when North Carolina’s best and brightest students were compared to Ohio’s average students, there was little discernible difference in the ACT results. North Carolina’s best students are Ohio’s average students.
As for Senator Cates’ reference to Tennessee’s results? Tennessee reported 100% participation on the ACT and ranked 47th nationwide with average composite score of 19.6.
NOTE: Under Teach for America’s section for “Support” on their website, they highlight a key piece of their program:
Corps members can download resources for exploring different career paths and connect with alumni to investigate professional opportunities after the corps. [After their two-year commitment is over.]
They don’t even pretend to be in it for the long haul…
At a time when education in Ohio is under intense scrutiny, why would Ohio’s Republican legislators be seeking to LOWER the standards for becoming a teacher?