Many CSU teaching grads feel ill prepared

By Chelsea J. Carter, The Associated Press
Friday November 16, 2001

LONG BEACH — Although the nation’s largest public university system is turning out a record number of new teachers, a quarter of them don’t believe they are well enough prepared to teach math and English in kindergarten through eighth grade. 

But about 80 percent of their principals said the graduates were prepared to teach the state’s standard curriculum, according to a survey presented to the California State University Board of Trustees on Wednesday. 

“To us, the overall news is positive,” David S. Spence, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer, told CSU trustees. 

Many new graduates feel “a little bit inadequate when they are first starting out. It’s natural,” he said. 

The survey randomly sampled 1,400 new teachers and 1,200 principals and is believed to be the first time CSU has evaluated its teacher training by questioning graduates and their bosses. 

Chancellor Charles B. Reed said it will be conducted annually. 

“We’ll do it again next year and the next year and then we’ll have something more to work with,” he said after the meeting. “Right now, the good news is I think our programs are doing really well. The bad news is we can do better.” 

The report comes after a state commission found that some CSU teacher training programs were lacking, and Gov. Gray Davis warned that training must improve. 

The 23-campus CSU system educates 60 percent of kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers in California. It graduated a record 10,500 teachers after the 1999-2000 academic year. 

The state is estimated to need 250,000 new teachers over the next 10 years to meet classroom demands. 

There are now more than 284,000 full- and part-time public school teachers statewide. About 30,000 are in classrooms on emergency credentials. 

The survey also found: 

—19 of every 20 alumni of the CSU program were working as teachers one year after graduating. 

—67 percent of new teachers said they felt adequately prepared to teach remedial reading skills in grades 9 through 12, and 76 percent of principals felt the new teachers were well-prepared.