Building a better teacher

If Michigan is going to improve student learning, it likely will start with teachers. But how is Michigan doing at the challenging work of building a better teacher?

Teaching in Windsor: A few miles away, a world apart

Eric and Kristen Wideen are among a small number of teachers who’ve led classrooms on both sides of the Ambassador Bridge, and the differences run far deeper than the Detroit River. Student test scores indicate children learn less in Michigan classrooms than […]

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Michigan fails students with poor teacher prep

Julie Western slaps a stack of resumes on the desk of Superintendent Kevin Miller. Croswell-Lexington, a rural school district in the thumb, posted a single teacher opening on their website. A week later, they’re swamped with 147 applications. All of the applicants […]

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Who’s teaching in your community?

The age, experience, education and pay of teachers vary widely among school districts and charter schools. Look up your district or charter, and compare your teachers to the state average numbers you’ll find as the last item in your list.

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Passing Michigan’s teacher tests is a breeze – and learning suffers

You don’t have to take Michigan’s basic skills teacher certification exam to read this story. But if you did, you’d probably pass. The exam, taken before a teacher candidate begins student teaching, is supposed to assure that teacher candidates are qualified to […]

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Vagaries of student teaching give newcomers vastly different experiences

Theory ran into reality the day Melissa Lynch walked into a fifth-grade class in Haslett, Michigan. Before her student teaching assignment began, Lynch developed “these awesome lesson plans.” “We never have time for that,” said Lynch, a Central Michigan University senior. “You’ve […]

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Poor students are more likely to get Michigan’s least experienced teachers

The Michigan children most in need of experienced teachers are the students least likely to get them. A Bridge analysis of state data found that inexperienced teachers appear to be clustered in Michigan’s poorest schools. The students in those classrooms will, on […]

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Michigan classrooms loaded with rookie teachers who soon wash out

“I started teaching in a charter school in Taylor. I showed up and they said, ‘Here’s a curriculum,’ and they handed me a USB (drive) and a pile of books and said, ‘Teach this,’ and you’re kind of left alone. You’re almost […]

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No room for mediocre teachers in this school

From her closet-sized principal’s office, Mary Lang doesn’t need to talk about more rigorous teacher training. She’s living it. Lang puts student teachers at Godwin Heights North Elementary School through the educational equivalent of boot camp, teaching classes with low-income, immigrant children […]

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How to get more teacher trainees in more classrooms sooner

In Haslett, college seniors and eighth-graders sit in the same social studies class. About 160 miles away in Avondale, there’s a college student for every eight elementary students. Both may offer a glimpse of the future of teacher preparation in Michigan, with […]

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Where should an aspiring teacher go to college? Nobody knows.

It was the end of her first semester as a Michigan teacher. Her students had gone home, and Wendy Zdeb-Roeper sat at her classroom desk, writing a letter to her alma mater. “I remember the feeling before the school year began,” recalled […]

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Becoming a teacher: too often in Michigan it’s come one, come all

One college advertises classes in “truck driving and teacher preparation.” Another program draws potential teachers from the bottom fifth of high school students. Michigan imposes no minimum standards for admission to teacher training programs, leaving standards to individual schools that have little […]

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Improving teacher quality critical to Michigan’s future

The Education Trust-Midwest, based in Royal Oak, has played an integral role in shaping the debate over Michigan teacher evaluation reform. Executive Director Amber Arellano spoke to Bridge about the importance of the reform efforts for Michigan’s children. Bridge: It seems the […]

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Grading teachers is proving difficult for principals

Teachers in school districts where Michigan’s proposed teacher evaluation system is being piloted are generally receptive to the changes. But inconsistent scores and a lawsuit in one district are among the challenges schools are likely to face when the system is rolled […]

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Rich school. Poor school. Whose teachers are better?

Perhaps the most vexing question facing Michigan’s new evaluation system is how to compare teacher performance when students in one class may be far more advanced than students in another. So-called “value-added data” is intended solve that dilemma, by taking into account […]

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What does good teaching look like? We’re about to find out

Imagine a Michigan where student teachers learn at the knee of the state’s best teachers; where master teachers descend into the most needy schools like SWAT teams; where struggling teachers get the training they need to improve, and where everyone knows which […]

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One in four aspiring teachers pass new teacher test

Becoming a teacher in Michigan just became a lot more difficult. Only one in four aspiring teachers passed a beefed-up version of Michigan’s teacher certification test – an exam that teachers must pass to be hired to lead a classroom – when […]

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Outdated spending cap keeps state from screening out less-qualified teachers

Comparison of teacher certification costs by state Lower costs, simpler tests – Michigan charges less for teacher certification tests than surrounding states. Lower fees mean Michigan has less money to pay for tests rigorous enough to screen out less-prepared aspiring teachers. State […]

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A new day for Michigan teaching programs

We recently received the results of our students’ performance on the Michigan Department of Education’s Professional Readiness Examination.  The department requires students to pass all three parts of the PRE test – reading, writing, and math – before they are allowed to […]

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