Ohio will soon become the first state in the nation to grade colleges on how well they train teachers to help students succeed, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut announced 15 measures yesterday that will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the education colleges at Ohio’s public and private universities. The evaluation will be similar to the state report cards of Ohio’s K-12 schools, which look at whether students learned a year’s worth of material over the previous school year. The single greatest factor in student learning is teacher quality, Fingerhut said.

“And so we have a moral, professional and institutional obligation to make sure the quality of teachers is as high as possible,” he said.

The schools will submit annual data on how well their students do on the state teacher licensure exam, as well as on a “value-added” component that is being developed by the State Board of Education as part of Ohio’s Race to the Top plan. Value-added data allows tracking of academic growth of individual students from year to year, regardless of the school attended. Ohio was among 12 states awarded funding in President Barack Obama’s $4.3billion Race to the Top competition. The $400 million awarded to Ohio will be shared by the state and participating school districts and charter schools. The money will finance data systems to help teachers fine-tune lessons, redesign teacher evaluations, provide mentoring programs for educators and expand efforts to close the achievement gap between white and minority students. The state also will create a teacher-performance assessment that measures how well new teachers communicate with parents, structure lesson plans and manage classrooms. Colleges will be able to gain extra recognition for working with academically struggling schools, placing graduates in hard-to-staff Ohio school districts or demonstrating a high-quality student-teaching experience. Schools will start submitting data as soon as benchmarks are created for each component of the plan, but the first comprehensive report won’t be ready until the end of 2012.

“We’re essentially starting from scratch, and a lot of this information isn’t even available yet,” said Rob Evans, press secretary for the Ohio Board of Regents.

New teachers often complain that the training they received in college didn’t do enough to prepare them for the real world of education. And many critics say few colleges provide teachers-to-be with enough training in English, math and other core subjects or in classroom management and dealing with difficult students. The two groups representing the teacher-education programs at Ohio’s public and private colleges said the new standards should help…

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