He also noted the administration is using stimulus dollars to reward states that tie student achievement data to the education schools where their teachers had credentials.

The timing of these efforts is crucial, Duncan said. A third of veteran teachers and principals are Baby Boomers who are poised to retire, which could create a million new teaching positions in the next four years, according to ED.

He noted that Obama’s goal is for America to have more college graduates than any other country by 2020. It’s a tall order–only three-quarters of kids graduate from high school, and of those who do, about half go to college.

“But to reach that goal, both our K-12 system and our teacher preparation programs have to get dramatically better,” Duncan said.

Sharon P. Robinson, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, responded in a statement: “We enthusiastically embrace the challenge of change and consider ourselves a partner with the Education Department and all others forging ahead on this path.”

Robinson also noted the role of ED’s Teacher Quality Partnership grants in helping to usher in these changes, and she urged the department to continue expanding the program.

“AACTE will continue to advocate for such partnerships, including promising teacher residencies, to ensure that funding is available and reliable over time. And we will monitor the resulting pace of change and report on it to Congress and the community,” she said.

Links:

Columbia University Teachers College

Education Department