Report: Teacher preparation programs an ‘industry of mediocrity’

Mixed feelings

NCTQ’s standards used to collect the data and rank teacher preparation programs focus mainly on admissions; student course selection for their specific subject they will be teaching; hands-on experience in classroom management; and syllabi, textbooks, and types of training offered.

However, not all in the education field are accepting these standards with open arms, especially because the Review did not “typically evaluate the quality of teaching within the training program or the success graduates may have had in the classroom,” notes Reuters.

“Our members feel like they’ve been strong-armed,” said Stephanie Giesecke, director at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in a statement to Reuters. “These are not valid ways of rating our programs.”

“It’s disappointing that for something as important as strengthening teacher preparation programs, NCTQ chose to use the gimmick of a four-star rating system without using professionally accepted standards, visiting any of the institutions or talking with any of the graduates,” said the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in a statement.

Though the AFT agrees that some areas of teacher prep programs need attention and improvement, AFT said they would prefer to collaborate on professional ownership of, and solutions to, these problems instead of “talking about a punitive approach to shame and blame institutions.”

Yet, many education leaders are heralding the Review’s findings as a much-needed call to action, which can also serve as a consumer guide for aspiring teachers.

“Teachers deserve better support and better training than teachers’ colleges today provide, and school districts should be able to make well-informed hiring choices,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for the Wall Street Journal.

And some institutions that were not highly ranked took their ranking as a learning experience.

“I think what NCTQ points out is that we are probably under-equipping teachers going into classrooms,” said David Chard, dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University. “We did not fare as well on this review. We need to do a better job of communicating both with our students and NCTQ where our content can be found. In some cases, we have some work to do.”

Not all bad

Though many teacher prep institutions didn’t get close to four stars, Lipscomb and Vanderbilt University (both Tenn.), as well as Ohio State University and Furman University (S.C.) all received four stars.

NCTQ’s blog is currently highlighting videos of four-star institution teacher preparation programs, giving an inside look into what makes them successful.

“It’s programs like these that aspiring teachers should strongly think about applying to and that districts should look to recruit from,” said NCTQ. “And it’s programs like these that can serve as models for the field as a whole.”

Ohio State University

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