In a speech at the University of Virginia on Friday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for more Americans to consider teaching careers, and praised the U.Va. students for the rigor and breadth of their programs. But he also suggested that Virginia was the exception that demonstrated problems elsewhere with teacher education programs. "In far too many universities, education schools are the neglected stepchild. Often they don't attract the best students or faculty. The programs are heavy on educational theory -- and light on developing core area knowledge and clinical training under the supervision of master teachers," he said. "Generally, not enough attention is paid to what works to boost student learning -- and student teachers are not trained in how to use data to improve their instruction and drive a cycle of continuous improvement for their students. Many ed schools do relatively little to prepare students for the rigor of teaching in high-poverty and high-need schools. In all but a few states, education schools act as the Bermuda Triangle of higher education — students sail in but no one knows what happens to them after they come out. No one knows which students are succeeding as teachers, which are struggling, and what training was useful or not."
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