Report: SC teacher preparation beats national average, but still needs improvement

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 23, 2013 

A report from a nonprofit organization calls for improving some methods of teacher preparation in South Carolina, but gives the state an above-average grade when compared to other states.

The National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving teacher effectiveness, released its annual "State Teacher Policy Yearbook" today with tailored analysis for each state on how to improve teacher preparation.

South Carolina received a "C-minus" for teacher preparation policies in 2012. According to a news release, the average grade for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., was a "D-plus."

According to the group's website, 14 states improved their scores over 2011. South Carolina did not.

The report says a few policies need "critical attention." Recommendations include raising GPA requirements for teacher preparation programs, ensuring elementary school teachers know their subject matters through assessments, and requiring that student teachers be assigned to teachers who have demonstrated growth in student learning.

The report also calls for eliminating generic special-education licenses, which do not differentiate between how elementary and secondary special-education teachers are prepared. Such a system, the report says, lowers the bar for special-education teachers and makes it difficult to ensure they know the subject matter and can teach grade-level content.

It also identifies some "low-hanging fruit," suggesting the state could easily begin to require that secondary science and social studies teachers pass individual content tests for each area they will be licensed to teach, such as biology or civics.

Jay W. Ragley, a spokesman with the S.C. Department of Education, said the department plans to review the report.

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