The best colleges for teachers

New report reveals the best teacher preparation programs

teacher-preparation-programThe National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its 2014 Teacher Prep Review – an annual assessment of the nation’s teacher preparation programs – with what the Council says is a much expanded and more comprehensive evaluation.

The Review uncovers early evidence that teacher preparation programs are beginning to make changes, which the report says arrives at a time of “heightened, unprecedented activity across the nation to improve teacher preparation.”

According to the report:

  • 33 states have recently made significant changes in their accountability policies over teacher preparation programs and another 7 have taken positive steps forward;
  • A new consortium of 7 states organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is working together to beef up their approval of programs;
  • The Obama Administration has signaled it intends to strengthen accountability measures for teacher preparation and that it will restrict millions of dollars in federal grants to only high-performing programs;
  • A new professional organization, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), is beginning to accredit programs under considerably tougher standards; and
  • A growing number of districts are pledging to make use of program data, including the NCTQ findings, to improve their hiring of new teachers and pressure programs to provide the training needed to successfully begin teaching in public schools.

For the first time, NCTQ also provides a numeric ranking of the programs that prepare the nation’s teachers.

(Next page: The best teacher prep programs)

Most states (33) have at least one ‘Top Ranked’ program, leaving 17 states and the District of Columbia without a Top Ranked program in either elementary or secondary education.

“This finding suggests state and school district leaders in these states need to demand programs change to better meet their needs and, if necessary, look across their state borders for the best sources of well-trained teachers,” says NCTQ.

Of the 1,612 programs ranked in the Review—an increase of over a third from last year’s Review—NCTQ conferred Top Ranked status to 26 elementary and 81 secondary programs, accounting for only 7 percent of all programs. Fortunately, nearly two-thirds of the Top Ranked programs (68) are public, ensuring that aspiring teachers have high-quality, low cost pathways into teaching.

“With only 1 in 15 programs providing first-year teachers with solid preparation, it is clear we, as a nation, have a long way to go if we are going to do right by teachers as well as their students,” noted Kate Walsh, President of the NCTQ.

The top 10 national programs for elementary teaching:
1. Dallas Baptist University (TX) (undergraduate)
2. Texas A&M University (undergraduate)
3. Ohio State University (graduate)
4. Northwestern State University of Louisiana (undergraduate)
4. University of Dayton (OH) (undergraduate)
6. Louisiana State University (undergraduate)
7. University of Houston (TX) (undergraduate)
8. Miami University of Ohio (tie; undergraduate)
8. Eastern Connecticut State University (tie; undergraduate)
10. University of Texas at Austin (undergraduate)

The top 10 national programs for secondary teaching:
1. Western Governors University (UT) (undergraduate)
2. Lipscomb University (TN) (undergraduate)
3. Fort Hays State University (KS) (undergraduate)
4. College of William and Mary (VA) (graduate)
5. Furman University (SC) (tie; undergraduate)
5. Henderson State University (AR) (tie; undergraduate)
5. Miami University of Ohio (tie; undergraduate)
8. University of California San Diego (tie; graduate)
8. University of California Irvine (tie; undergraduate)
8. CUNY – Hunter College (NY) (tie; graduate)
8. Miami University of Ohio (tie; graduate)

More key findings from the 2014 Review include:

  • 94 institutions have a Top Ranked elementary or secondary program. Three institutions can boast 3 Top Ranked programs: CUNY – Hunter College, Miami University of Ohio and the University of Houston. States with the largest number of Top Ranked institutions include Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.
  • In their admissions processes, three out of four programs fail to insist that applicants meet even modest academic standards (a 3.0 GPA or scoring above the 50th percentile on the ACT or SAT).
  • Almost all programs (83 percent) do not provide even a basic orientation in effective reading methods to elementary and special education teacher candidates.
  • 93 percent of all programs fail to ensure that elementary teacher candidates receive the math preparation they need, and over 70 percent of undergraduate programs fail to ensure that elementary teachers take a single basic science course.
  • Only 20 percent of undergraduate elementary programs require a world history course; only 14 percent require candidates to develop deep knowledge of a subject by means of a concentration.
  • Only 35 percent of programs ensure that secondary teachers aren’t sent into classrooms with significant weaknesses in specific disciplines.

In addition to analyzing colleges and universities providing traditional teacher preparation, NCTQ rated, for the first time, secondary alternative certification providers. The results in this pilot study of some of the largest providers—almost half of which are located in Texas where alternative certification is particularly popular—were even weaker than for traditional programs.

NCTQ found their admissions standards to be too low; that efforts to assess subject matter knowledge are inadequate; and that there is too little training or support provided to candidates who are asked to hit the ground running in the classroom.

Only 1 provider out of 85 earned high marks (Teach For America, Massachusetts).

The full report is available here. NCTQ has identified steps states could take to make meaningful improvements to teacher prep (available here) and has provided guidance to districts on how to identify the best trained teachers (available here).

This story is from an NCTQ press release.