This post was originally published on the Learning First Alliance’s Public School Insights blog.
Last month, President Barack Obama visited colleges in New York and Pennsylvania to discuss a plan to make higher education more affordable and accessible to all Americans. Soaring costs threaten accessibility; lack of accessibility threatens the economic growth of the country. Therefore, attention to this matter is absolutely required.
Throughout the country, an increasing number of students must rely on loans to pay for postsecondary schooling and are burdened with debt after graduation. According to the College Board (2012), among students earning bachelor’s degrees in 2010-11 from either public or private nonprofit, 4-year colleges, 60% of students took out student loans and graduated with an average debt of $25,300. This educational debt is especially taxing for graduates who choose to enter lower paying public service careers, such as the teaching profession.
Growing up in Louisville during the civil rights era, with activist parents who believed in the inherent connection between education and equality, I understood early on that a quality education can increase opportunities and improve outcomes for all children. I recall the civil rights hymn, “Woke up this morning with my mind – stayed on freedom,” which inspired so many and captured the urgency of addressing the injustice minorities faced in America at that time. Today, educational equity continues to be in the forefront of my mind.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill known as the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), passed last month in a partisan vote by the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee, would have a detrimental impact on the American education system and students’ access to qualified teachers. Of note, this legislation would repeal the national standard requiring teachers to be “highly qualified” in the subjects they teach.
Rigor has become a ubiquitous buzzword in education circles describing accountability measures for both educator and student performance. Under a scrutinizing lens, policy makers, researchers, and practitioners are examining whether standards for learning, methods of instruction, and assessment instruments are demanding enough to produce students who are college and career-ready by the end of high school.
In educator preparation, we think of program rigor in terms of productivity measures and indicators relative to the knowledge, skills, and dispositions acquired by our candidates. Our commitment to rigor is characterized by the pursuit of precise, accurate, exhaustive, and scientific measurement of teacher candidates’ ability to be effective educators.