Is Your Child's Teacher Well-Trained?

In a recent study, the nation's teachers are receiving grades that are disappointing and alarming. The causes behind this failure are debated by administrators, teachers and politicians. According to the Obama administration, the solution to improving the nation's teachers begins with remaking the teacher education system.

Find available tutors

teacher training teacher evaluations

Mediocre Teachers?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released a major report in January that provided a thorough analysis of the quality and effectiveness of the nation's teachers. Over 1,000 classrooms were studied in cities such as Charlotte, Denver, Dallas and New York City. The study is believed to be the most expansive such analysis of the nation's educators.

The results were not encouraging. Teachers struggled in a variety of areas, including utilizing question and discussion techniques, communicating with students and using assessment tools. In all three of these areas, fewer than 50% of teachers were rated as proficient or better. In fact, only 30% of teachers were proficient or better at communicating with students.

Not all of the news in the report was negative. The most successful area of teaching was managing student behavior. A clear majority of teachers were proficient or better in this area. This includes keeping students engaged and well-behaved in class.

A Systemic Failure

The Obama administration has laid out an ambitious plan for remedying the teacher quality problem. As described in a report released last fall by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the root of the problem is in the programs that educate our teachers. While there are strong teacher education programs, most are substandard.

There are myriad problems with these programs. For example, barely half of future teachers receive supervised clinical training, a critical component of their development as educators. Over 60% of education school alumni say they were unprepared for the reality of the classroom upon graduation.

Then there is the gap between what education programs produce and what schools need. The types of teachers that are most needed are in subject areas such as math, science and engineering. More than 90% of districts in high-minority areas report struggles in finding qualified teachers in these areas. Likewise, teachers skilled in working with students with disabilities or non-native English speakers are few and far between.

Ideas for Change

Over the next ten years, 1.6 million teachers will retire. As teacher education programs work to produce the next generation of educators, this turnover creates an enormous opportunity. As noted in Secretary Duncan's report, the clearest pathway to success begins with increasing analysis and accountability.

Too often, teacher education programs are evaluated on how well their aspiring teachers perform on exams or how high their grade-point averages are. Why not shift the focus to how well those teachers perform in the job market? Louisiana is leading the way with this idea. The performances of students in K-12 schools are now linked back to the education programs that trained those students' teachers. The Obama administration is proposing using the Louisiana example as a model for the rest of the nation.

There's also a need for a complete overhaul of how teacher effectiveness data is collected and reported. The Gates Foundation is a major player in this field. Their January report not only measured teacher effectiveness, it also evaluated its own evaluation techniques. More work like this will further improve and refine the ways in which we understand how well our teachers are performing.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    How to Teach Your Kids to Use the Internet Responsibly

    A question for parents: would you allow your children to play outside without keeping an eye on them? Many would likely say no. Well, the same mentality should be used when your kids use the Internet; in other words, kids should not be allowed to roam the vast world of the Internet unsupervised and without fully understanding its...

  • More Blog Articles
    How to Talk to Your Kids About Bullying

    If you have a child in elementary, middle or high school, then you've likely heard plenty of stories about bullying. Even if your child is not the target of bullying, he or she could still be affected by it. As a parent, you'll certainly want to make your kids aware of this persistent and growing problem in schools across the...

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth