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June 18 2013

Teaching Colleges are Failing Teachers—and Us

Vicki E. Alger

A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality evaluates American teacher preparation programs complete with rankings on the U.S. News & World Report website.

The analysis reviewed programs at more than 1,000 institutions nationwide that prepare virtually all (99 percent) of the country’s traditionally trained new teachers and rated them according to a four-star system. Here’s what NCTQ found:

  • Less than 10 percent of rated programs earn three stars or more.
  • It is way too easy to get into a teacher preparation program. While top performing countries admit only the top third of students into their teacher training programs, in the U.S. only around one-quarter of programs limit admission to the top half.
  • Three out of four elementary teacher preparation programs are not teaching the methods rigorous reading instruction methods that help make students proficient readers.
  • Just 7 percent of programs ensure that their student teachers will have uniformly strong hands-on experiences, such as requiring their teaching candidates to be placed in classrooms taught by effective veteran teachers rather than any teacher who volunteers.

As USNWR Editor Brian Kelly summarized, getting good information to the public is a first step to better trained teachers—but many institutions did not want information about their programs published:

The insular nature of some of the teacher prep world becomes apparent in the course of the Center’s research when many institutions, in an orchestrated fashion, declined to cooperate in providing data and allowing scrutiny of their programs. In several cases, the Center had to sue under public records law to acquire data that should have been freely available to the public. There seems to be a widely accepted view on the part of these institutions that they are doing a good job, when all other evidence points to the contrary.

Potential teachers have a right to know about the strength of their prospective training programs. Parents deserve to know how well their children’s teachers were trained. Taxpayers, who subsidize both the institutions offering teacher training programs and teaching candidates, also need to know whether their hard-earned money is being used effectively. If institutions want to keep mum, then maybe they don’t deserve our public support.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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