Evaluating Teacher Prep Programs, NCTQ Style

At the stroke of midnight last evening, the National Council on Teacher Quality released its Teacher Prep Review 2013 Report.  The long-anticipated report provides a deep look at how more than 1,100 colleges and universities prepare prospective teachers and where our deficiencies may be in teacher preparation for the elementary, middle, and secondary grades.

In addition to the media coverage the report has received, it has also resulted in quite a number of interesting comments on the findings and the ratings that NCTQ provided these institutions of higher education.

Fortunately, NCTQ assembled some of the more interesting nuggets of endorsement for the Teacher Prep Review, including:

"Teachers deserve better support and better training than teachers' colleges today provide, and school districts should be able to make well-informed hiring choices." EdSec Arne Duncan in today's Wall Street Journal.

"I think NCTQ points is that we are probably underequipping teachers going into classrooms.  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." Southern Methodist University Ed School Dean David Chard in today's Associated Press piece.

"You just have to have a pulse and you can get into some of these education schools.  If policymakers took this report seriously, they'd be shutting down hundreds of programs." Fordham Institute's Michael Petrilli, also in the AP.

"Teacher preparation needs to be reformed from top to bottom." Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier, in today's Reuters piece.

"A key part of raising the education profession is related to who we attract the best candidates into teacher preparation programs in the first place.  We look to Singapore and Korea, and 100 percent of their teachers come from the top third of their college graduates.  The equivalent figure in the U.S. is 23 percent. " Delaware Gov. Jack Markell in Huffington Post.

"It's widely agreed upon that there's a problem [with teacher training].  The report points out that California has an acute set of problems." LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy in the Los Angeles Times.

But one statement that didn't make the NCTQ highlight reel is that released earlier today by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.  In coming to the defense of teacher prep programs, Weingarten noted (on the AFT platform):

"Best-of and worst-of lists always garner attention, so we understand why NCTQ would use that device.  While its 'do not enter' consumer alerts will make the intended splash, it's hard to see how it will help strengthen teacher preparation programs or elevate the teaching profession.  We need a systemic approach to improving teacher preparation programs and ensuring that every teacher is ready to teach ...

While we agree with NCTQ on the need to improve teacher preparation, it would be more productive to focus on developing a consistent, systemic approach to lifting the teaching profession instead of resorting to attention-grabbing consumer alerts based on incomplete standards."

Game on!

And for those interested in who gained top honors in the NCTQ ratings, four programs ("all secondary") earned four stars — Furman University (SC), Lipscomb University (TN), Ohio State University (OH), and Vanderbilt University (TN).  Top honors seem to go to The Ohio State University, which also got 3 1/2 stars for its elementary school prep.


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