Iowa Governor Proposes Minimum GPA for Teacher Candidates

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has proposed a new rule with regard to admission to teacher preparation programs: a minimum GPA.  There are 32 teacher preparation programs in the state, and students would now need to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 (a B average) to be eligible for admittance.  According to estimates, this would make one of five prospective teachers ineligible to receive teacher training.

The change would make Iowa one of the most selective states in the country with regard to teacher preparation.  The hope is that such a standard will yield better teachers for future generations of K-12 students.  It would also “be one of the first serious attempts by a state to mimic policies of educational powerhouses like Singapore, whose students routinely trounce American children on international math and science assessments.”

Opponents of the proposal argue that there is no proof that a good GPA in the first few years of college has any relevance to a person’s professional success.  The measure could prevent students who have the proper dispositions and passion for teaching from the profession, particularly students of color.  If reforms are enacted, many believe that there has to be follow-up research to track student’s success in the classroom once they have a teaching position.

State officials have indicated that they are willing to negotiate the details of the proposal and consider alternatives, but that it is important that a standard GPA requirement should be in place because “colleges need to establish stronger academic standards.”  Currently, the only specific statewide standard is that student teaching internships last a minimum of 14 weeks.

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