SALEM, Ore. - Student teaching at Oregon's public colleges should be strengthened, professional development for teachers should be expanded and licensing requirements for new teachers should be raised, according to an audit released Tuesday by Secretary of State Kate Brown.
"If we want our students to be more successful, we need to make sure that Oregon's teachers have the tools they need to be effective," Brown said. "Oregon has not made professional development and mentoring a priority for our teachers. We must, if we want our children to compete in a global economy."
The audit was conducted over the past year and reviewed the practices of three state agencies and a 197 school districts.
State auditors found that Oregon's public teaching colleges are making efforts to strengthen student teaching, but more progress is needed.
Public teaching colleges vary on how well they coordinate coursework and student teaching experiences. They also vary in the partnerships they have developed with local school districts.
Performance indicators on how well graduates succeed in the workforce provide insight into how effectively public teaching colleges prepare graduates, yet no state agency or commission routinely reports such performance indicators, auditors found.
Only half of Oregon's public teaching colleges regularly provide information on their graduates after they enter the workforce.
Auditors also recommended requiring an independent assessment of teacher candidates' performance prior to licensure to determine whether candidates are adequately prepared.
Lastly, the audit points out that while some Oregon school districts provide professional development and support to beginning teachers, other districts face challenges in doing so.
Professional development includes high-quality mentoring, ongoing learning opportunities, and standards-based teacher evaluations.
"Preparing new teachers for their careers in education requires the involvement of multiple state agencies, as well as school districts and schools. Our audit shows the intricacies of these connections and how they could be strengthened." said Gary Blackmer, director of the Oregon Audits Division.
The report is available online.