Mediocre ratings for teacher prep programs

The National Council on Teacher Quality study, released today, reveals new teachers are ill-prepared to, well, teach.

The first-ever review of the country’s teacher preparation programs in colleges and universities “finds they have become an industry of mediocrity, churning out first-year teachers… inadequate to thrive in classrooms with ever-increasing ethnic and socioeconomic student diversity.”

Altogether, the NCTQ report evaluated 1,130 institutions that prepare 99 percent of the country’s teachers.

The ratings are based on a four-star system, four being the best. Programs with a rating of no stars earn a ‘Consumer Alert’ designation.

According to the report, less than 10 percent of rated programs earned three or more stars. Only four secondary programs earned four stars: Lipscomb and Vanderbilt Universities, both in Tennessee, Ohio State University and Furman University in South Carolina. No Delaware programs made the honor roll, a distinction requiring three out of the four possible stars.

NCTQ gave Delaware State University’s undergraduate elementary and secondary education programs one-and-a-half and two stars respectively. The University of Delaware’s undergrad elementary program earned two-and-a-half stars. 

The lessons learned from the study: Delaware, along with the rest of the country, needs to establish more rigorous training, more selective admissions practices, early reading and math instruction as well as student teaching opportunities.

Ahead of the curve

All of this comes on the heels of Gov. Jack Markell’s signing of a bill designed to improve teacher preparation in the First State.

“The teacher preparation law passed in Delaware offers a model to address the challenges highlighted in NCTQ’s report,” said Markell.

The new law establishes student teaching experiences, ongoing evaluation of prospective teachers and specific reading and math instruction geared to the needs of elementary school teachers. In addition, Delaware’s new teachers will have to pass assessments of their content knowledge and performance before licensure.

“Teacher quality is the most important school-related factor in giving students the skills they need to compete in the global economy,” Markell said. “We need a comprehensive effort that holds our teachers to high standards, while ensuring they receive resources and opportunities to promote student achievement.”

Senate Bill 51 already upgrades some key components of teacher prep recommended in the study, including:

Setting high program entry requirements: Students must enter with a GPA of at least 3.0, a GPA in the top 50% of their class, or pass a state-approved exam
Early reading and elementary math instruction: Preparation programs are required to prepare elementary teaching candidates in the science of reading instruction and appropriate mathematics content
Student teaching: Programs must include a clinical residency component that consists of at least ten weeks of full-time student teaching
Raising standards for licensure: The law requires content exams and performance assessments before teachers receive their licenses.

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