For Princess Alleyn, finding a good school for her son wasn't easy.
She says teachers at his old school weren't prepared to teach.
She’s not alone. A new study from the National Council on Teacher Quality - a D.C.-based policy and research group - shows, teachers in the D.C. public school system are unprepared for the classroom, leading to poor test scores and graduation rates.
“There's been a lot of emphasis on teacher evaluations and it's time to take a step back and say, ‘wow that's really important,’” says Sandi Jacobs, vice president for the National Council on Teacher Quality. “But what are we doing to make sure that teachers coming in, the next generation of teachers, the teachers that are in the pipeline are well prepared, so that they can be effective?”
To get a teaching license, candidates must graduate from an approved program. But the report says D.C. doesn't look into how selective those programs are.
“We recommend that they strive for the top 50% of the college going population and we don't see any policies toward that in D.C.,” Jacobs says.
Another problem is in student teaching. The report says candidates aren't getting enough classroom experience with willing mentors.
The idea is shared across the field. The American Federation of Teachers released a report calling for a teaching exam similar to the bar.
For parents like Alleyn, it's critical.
“I want my baby to learn,” Alleyn says. “And I want him to have a good education. That's the only way he's going to make it.”
Jacobs says the problem is in the policy, controlled by the office of the state superintendent of education. A spokeswoman from the education superintendent said they plan to evaluate the selectivity of their approved teaching programs and hope to make an analysis public.
She added the office also plans to beef up the testing process before licensing and hiring teachers.
The report evaluated all 50 states for their teacher preparedness policies and found that, overall, U.S. state policies are inadequate to ensure teachers are prepared for the classroom.