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Missouri a Leader in Improving Educator Preparation

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Missouri is ahead of the national curve in developing high-quality future teachers. The state has developed new standards, quality indicators and a professional continuum for the preparation of educators in all certification areas. The standards include higher grade-point averages and specific requirements for improving field and clinical experiences including the use of Missouri Educator Evaluation System for the evaluation of student teachers and interns.

A report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) shows the need for improved standards. The NCTQ fully evaluated more than 40 teacher preparation programs across Missouri and found that 10 elementary and 10 secondary programs were strong enough for a national ranking. Another 22 Missouri programs did not have a numeric rank reported because their performance was in the bottom half of the national sample.

“Higher standards for educators are vital to improving instruction in Missouri,” said Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro. “Effective educators are the primary component in providing our children with the best possible education.”

Assistant Commissioner Paul Katnik in the Office of Educator Quality agrees. “We expect these new standards to have a transformative effect in the classroom. As educator preparation improves, our teachers will be better equipped to help students succeed,” Katnik said.

The Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments (MEGA) is a new, comprehensive approach for assessing the preparation of educators in the state, including tests for admission into undergraduate education programs and measuring a candidate’s work style as it relates to education. MEGA will also require content-area exit exams and assessment of candidates’ performance in student teaching and internships. The content assessments will begin in September 2014.

In addition, the Annual Performance Report for Educator Preparation Programs (APR-EPP) will allow educator preparation programs to see how well they are meeting the state’s expectations for preparing teachers, counselors, librarians and school administrators. The goal is to develop a culture of continuous improvement.

“Beginning teachers no longer have five years to become good at helping students learn,” said Gina Chambers, director of field experience at Park University near Kansas City, Mo. “Higher education is beginning to recognize that we need to provide practical application along with theory to ensure that teacher candidates have the classroom skills they need when they begin their careers.”

Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) said, “The Missouri Department of Education, State Board of Education and educators have worked together to advance a thoughtful approach to ensuring every student in the state is learning from a teacher who has had excellent preparation.  While many states are improving the way we prepare teachers, Missouri’s work stands out as model approach."

Preparing, developing and supporting effective educators is one of the primary goals of the state's Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for Missouri to rank among the top 10 performing states in education in the nation by the year 2020.

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