Are "rookie" teachers prepared for classroom?

In recent days, the National Council on Teacher Quality raised quite a ruckus. It called teacher training in the United States an "industry of mediocrity."

The council says rookie teachers are entering the classroom with little hands on experience and are being overwhelmed.

A majority of the nation's university training programs earned less than three stars out of four on the ranking scale. Alabama's education training programs did not do well on this survey.

In Alabama fifteen programs at eight universities received an average score of one point six out of four stars.

Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of the University of Alabama College of Education doesn't believe the research tells the whole story. "The evaluation of the materials that they were able to collect, on a sort of spotty basis, has no necessary, credible or reliable connection to the living experience of the teacher ed program. Now, I think that's a problem," Hlebowitsh says.The elementary education program at UA received a two point five out of four star ranking. Hlebowitsh contends the study does not evaluate the quality of teaching within the training program. Or the success graduates may have in the classroom. While the research maintains, that 'rookie' teachers are not prepared for the challenges that come with the classroom, local school systems beg to differ.

Kristi Sayers is the professional development supervisor for Shelby County Schools. She says the school system has 150 teachers preparing for their first year in the classroom.

"I think that's where the idea of unpreparedness comes from, it's not an educational, or academic standpoint, it's just, they're new to an environment," Sayers explains. "All of our schools has its own mentoring program, we sort of focus that at the district level and then at the school level, because each individual school is different."Sayers says the mentoring program is in place to help each 'rookie' teacher, for at least the first two years in the classroom. Sayers, a former teacher herself, says having a mentoring program allows for a smoother transition to the classroom. "Just having that support system is so crucial in making sure those first year teachers are successful, and that's what we try to do," she says.Dr. Phillip Cleveland is the Alabama Department of Education's workforce development, career and technical education director.

Cleveland admits the state always wants to find ways to improve the quality of education. "We provide those teachers, no matter where they're located, the resources they need and the assistance so they can meet that mark and provide student with high quality education opportunities," says Cleveland. Cleveland too recalls his time as a teacher, and his first year. He agrees having mentoring{} programs makes a world of difference. "You can go through all the formal training, that one might go through, but that first day in the classroom is a unique experience. My mentors that I had as a new teacher were an essential ingredient to my success and I owe them a lot," says Cleveland.