TN Colleges That Train Teachers Feel Pressure To Admit Higher Scoring Students

Tennessee's school board could nudge colleges like Tennessee Tech, which trains hundreds of teachers, to let in students with an average GPA of 3.0, and above average test scores. (Image via TTU Alumni Services)

The state’s school board could nudge colleges like Tennessee Tech, which trains hundreds of teachers, to let in students with an average GPA of 3.0, and above average test scores. (Image via TTU Alumni Services)

Tennessee may soon nudge colleges which train future teachers toward tougher average entry requirements.

A recent report from the state’s Higher Education Commission (PDF here) dinged some of the state’s biggest programs for churning out too many teachers who end up being sub-par.

Forthcoming requirements—part of a transition under the national Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation—are far from set in stone.  But the gist is this: schools would have to admit students with a 3.0 GPA, on average, and also ever higher scores on tests like the ACT.

Julie Baker is skeptical:

“I would hate to think at that point we’re determining if they can be teachers or not.”

Baker is assistant dean at Tennessee Tech, which graduates hundreds of teachers.  She says the move could sideline other qualities like grit and determination.  But Deputy Education Commissioner Sara Heyburn responds colleges will still have some wiggle-room for that:

“We want to, on the whole, say that we have high expectations for teachers, so we need to have some selective criteria for who’s allowed to become a teacher—meaning, who are we going to admit to these programs?  On the other hand, we know that’s going to look different from person to person, and so we need to be loose enough within those criteria to make sure we’ve got a really robust, diverse population of teacher candidates.”

There is also some concern more stringent requirements could lead to shrinking programs; Baker notes Tennessee Tech has already been looking at raising its minimum GPA to get in, to 2.75.  Such a move would affect between 15 and 20 percent of the school’s current candidates, she says.

The state school board (see Heyburn’s preview to members here) is expected to take up the matter early next year.

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