Econintersect: The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has issued a ropeort on a comprehensive study of teacher education in the U.S. The findings net to a conclusion that the education of teachers by the nation's colleges and universities have "become an industry of mediocrity". The study charges that the training institutions are "churning out first-year teachers with classroom management skills and content knowledge inadequate to thrive in classrooms". The study has been ongoing through "eight years of development and 10 pilot studies". The work was funded by more than 60 foundations and trusts including the Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation.
Here is the Executive Summary:
Once the world leader in educational attainment, the United States has slipped well into the middle of the pack. Countries that were considered little more than educational backwaters just a few years ago have leapt to the forefront of student achievement.
There’s no shortage of factors for America’s educational decline: budget cutbacks, entrenched poverty, crowded classrooms, shorter school years, greater diversity of students than in other countries. The list seems endless.
NCTQ’s Teacher Prep Review has uncovered another cause, one that few would suspect: the colleges and universities producing America’s traditionally prepared teachers.
Through an exhaustive and unprecedented examination of how these schools operate, the Review finds they have become an industry of mediocrity, churning out first-year teachers with classroom management skills and content knowledge inadequate to thrive in classrooms with ever-increasing ethnic and socioeconomic student diversity.
We were able to determine overall ratings based on a set of key standards for 608 institutions. Those ratings can be found on the U.S. News & World Report website, www.usnews.com, as well as our own, www.nctq.org, where there is additional data on another 522 institutions. Altogether, the Review provides data on the 1,130 institutions that prepare 99 percent of the nation’s traditionally trained new teachers. No small feat.
As the product of eight years of development and 10 pilot studies, the standards applied here are derived from strong research, the practices of high-performing nations and states, consensus views of experts, the demands of the Common Core State Standards (and other standards for college and career readiness) and occasionally just common sense.
We strived to apply the standards uniformly to all the nation’s teacher preparation programs as part of our effort to bring as much transparency as possible to the way America’s teachers are prepared. In collecting information for this initial report, however, we encountered enormous resistance from leaders of many of the programs we sought to assess. In some cases, we sued for the public information they refused to provide. We anticipate greater cooperation for future editions of the Review, which will be published annually, resulting in more ratings for more programs.
For now, the evaluations provide clear and convincing evidence, based on a four-star rating system, that a vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not give aspiring teachers adequate return on their investment of time and tuition dollars. These are among the most alarming findings:
- Less than 10 percent of rated programs earn three stars or more. Only four programs, all secondary, earn four stars: Lipscomb and Vanderbilt, both in Tennessee; Ohio State University; and Furman University in South Carolina. Only one institution, Ohio State, earns more than three stars for both an elementary (3½ stars) and a secondary (4 stars) program.
- It is far too easy to get into a teacher preparation program. Just over a quarter of programs restrict admissions to students in the top half of their class, compared with the highest-performing countries, which limit entry to the top third.
- Fewer than one in nine elementary programs and just over one-third of high school programs are preparing candidates in content at the level necessary to teach the new Common Core State Standards now being implemented in classrooms in 45 states and the District of Columbia.
- The “reading wars” are far from over. Three out of four elementary teacher preparation programs still are not teaching the methods of reading instruction that could substantially lower the number of children who never become proficient readers, from 30 percent to under 10 percent. Instead, the teacher candidate is all too often told to develop his or her “own unique approach” to teaching reading.
- Just 7 percent of programs ensure that their student teachers will have uniformly strong experiences, such as only allowing them to be placed in classrooms taught by teachers who are themselves effective, not just willing volunteers.
- Teacher Prep Review (National Council on Teacher Quality, 2013)