- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2001

NORFOLK (AP) More than 80 percent of Virginia colleges that prepare teachers require less than a B-minus average to enter undergraduate education programs, a newspaper reported yesterday.
All but six of the 36 programs require college students to have a 2.5 average midway between a B and a C to start education classes, according to the Virginian-Pilot, which obtained reports of grade requirements from the state Department of Education.
Old Dominion University has the highest requirement for undergraduates in the state: 2.75 about a B-minus which it raised from 2.5 last year.
The University of Virginia, the University of Richmond and Randolph-Macon Women's College require a 2.7 average to get into their teaching programs. Randolph-Macon College requires a 2.6.
Education professors at Sweet Briar College decided last week to raise their requirement to 2.75 within the next two years.
The College of William and Mary is the only Virginia school demanding less than a 2.5; it requires a 2.0, or C. Thomas J. Ward, associate dean of its School of Education, said there's no evidence that a higher average will "produce a better teacher."
But Michael B. Poliakoff, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality in Washington, disagreed.
Mr. Poliakoff is a former deputy secretary of education in Pennsylvania, which last year began requiring students to have a 3.0 to enter teaching programs. He said colleges nationwide should follow Pennsylvania's lead to ensure they graduate the best teachers.
A 2.5 is "not good enough for somebody who's going to be a teacher," Mr. Poliakoff said. "We want people to walk the walk of academic excellence."
The subject of grade requirements draws mixed reactions, echoing the debate over the weight the state puts on the Standards of Learning exams.
Some say grades alone can't measure teaching ability.
But William H. Graves III, ODU's education dean, said a higher barrier will screen out weaker students: "I would rather miss some people who don't know anything. A 2.75 says you know something."

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