Original URL: http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/news/5085.php
Teacher-quality effort earns D-
By Sarah Garrecht Gassen

Arizona has received a D-minus in a national report on its efforts to improve teacher quality because the state does not require enough student-teaching in college programs.

The "Quality Counts" report, prepared by the Education Week newspaper and released Wednesday, also said the state does not fund comprehensive professional development for teachers.

The report evaluates the states' education systems. Arizona received a B for its standards and accountability efforts, a B-minus for school climate, a D for the adequacy of resources and a C-minus for equity in how education resources are distributed.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne listed improving professional development as a goal for 2004 in a speech he's been giving around the state this week.

He said a plan to reduce the number of education-theory courses students must take, while increasing the amount of practical classroom experience teachers must have, will improve teacher quality and make it easier for college students in other areas of study to also earn teaching credentials.

Horne said he will forward a plan to the Board of Education this spring to reduce the number of theory-course hours required. The plan is now being formed by a task force.

Arizona requires eight semester hours of student teaching as criteria for a teaching certificate, but the state's three public universities require more than that to graduate, said Bob Hendricks, associate dean of the University of Arizona College of Education.

The UA requires 15 weeks of student-teaching and holds many of its courses in public schools so the college students get hands-on experience, Hendricks said.

"To have the practical in isolation from the theoretical, or vice versa, is not very powerful," Hendricks said. "The state requirements are the minimum, but that doesn't reflect what people are doing beyond that."

* Contact reporter Sarah Garrecht Gassen at 573-4117 or at sgassen@azstarnet.com.

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