Delaware Legislature sets Higher Bar for Teacher Preparation

Effective teaching is the cornerstone of student achievement in our classrooms. Around the country the call has gone out to strengthen standards for teacher preparation in colleges and universities. Delaware’s legislature has responded, enacting a bill on Thursday that, if signed by Gov. Jack Markell, will raise the bar to qualify for admission to a state teacher education program. Markell praised the passage of Senate Bill 51 in a press release.

Under the legislation, students will be required to maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point-average in their most recent two years of coursework, whether in high school or college, before entering a teaching program. They also will be required to complete a high-quality student teaching experience and pass a rigorous exit exam to screen those who are certified to teach in public schools. According to a news report, Gov. Markell has compared the requirement to the bar exam taken by aspiring lawyers.

SB 51 also requires colleges to instruct prospective elementary school teachers on research-based strategies for childhood literacy and age-appropriate mathematics content.

Educator preparation programs will have to work with the Delaware Department of Education to  collect and report data on the performance and effectiveness of program graduates. That includes the performance and effectiveness of program graduates based on achievement scores of students of the program’s graduates employed in the state for five years. That data will be available to the public.

Some critics, however, contend making admission to teacher pre-service programs more difficult might result in fewer college students entering teaching and less diverse teacher pools. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education estimates that 82 percent of students in education programs are white.

The new regulations would not apply to colleges outside of Delaware, and those graduates remain eligible to work in the state if they pass certification exams.