Column: It’s time to strengthen the P-16 continuum

If we were to review the public school records of college graduates, we would see, in general, a performance that significantly exceeds the minimum requirements for high school graduation. As daunting a challenge as it is, simply getting kids to stay in school and graduate from high school is no guarantee that they will succeed in college and graduate. Getting our students “college and career ready” might be the greatest challenge we have ever faced.

Acknowledging the role of teacher quality in preparing our students to be college and career ready, there is ample room for collaboration between K-12 systems and schools of education. The current focus on teacher evaluation overlooks the more productive role of teacher development. The process should begin early with the recruitment of high school students that show an interest in the teaching profession. There is much that we can learn from the popular European apprenticeship model. Would-be teachers could begin supervised classroom activities in their junior year of high school in “advanced placement” teacher education programs that would earn credits at schools of education.

Once in college, these students would transition to practicums in their freshman year, leading to actual placements as a teacher apprentice during their senior year of college. Variations of this theme are currently being implemented in school districts that are partnering with progressive teacher preparation institutions throughout the country.

The U.S. Department of Education can play a key role in facilitating and encouraging greater communication and collaboration between school districts and colleges of education. It will be a necessary step in preparing the personnel that will make the president’s goal a reality.

Daniel Domenech is executive director of the American Association of School Administrators.

For more from Dan Domenech, see:

U.S. education is still the best in the world—but here’s what we can learn from others

Improving public education isn’t a mystery

New teacher evaluation framework promises to serve students, and educators, fairly

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