The Obama administration announced Friday that it was developing ratings of teacher preparation programs to make them more accountable for their graduates' classroom performance.
Teacher training programs have frequently come under attack as ill-conceived or mediocre, and teachers themselves have often complained that such programs do not adequately prepare them to handle children with varying needs and abilities.
"We have about 1,400 schools of education and hundreds and hundreds of alternative certification paths, and nobody in this country can tell anybody which one is more effective than the other," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at a town-hall meeting at Dunbar High School in Washington on Friday.
"Often the vast majority of schools," he said, "when I talk to teachers, and have very candid conversations, they feel they weren't well prepared."
By this summer, the administration will propose rules for evaluating all teacher training programs, using metrics that could include the number of graduates placed in schools, as well as pass rates on licensing exams, teacher retention rates and job performance ratings of teachers.
A 2013 review of 2,420 teacher preparation programs by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit group that advocates tougher standards, found that less than a quarter provided concrete strategies for managing students in a classroom. Most of them failed to guarantee that teacher candidates would be placed with highly skilled teachers during student-teaching stints.