Teacher Preparation Programs Receiving More Attention

Few would dispute that high-quality teacher is imperative when looking to attain a quality result in our education system. So, it would seem of paramount importance to understand and be aware of how well teacher preparation programs are equipping tomorrow's teachers — and their students —for success, says Deborah Van Eendeburg, a university student writing to the Minnesota Daily.

In an attempt to try and get a measure of it, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has partnered with U.S. News & World Report to launch a review of the more than 1,400 teacher preparation programs around the country.

The review will look at whether the programs select academically capable students, ensure they know the subjects they will teach and equip them with the techniques they need to help their students achieve, says a press release.

Preliminary data from the new rating survey, to be published in the second half of 2012, indicates that there are wide variances in the quality of programs. Using the review, aspiring teachers will be able identify which programs will best prepare them for the classroom, and school districts will know where they should target their recruitment efforts for new hires.

Education leaders, including university presidents, state superintendents of education and state legislators, will be able to evaluate best—and worst – practices across all 50 states.

"We now know beyond any shadow of a doubt that teacher effectiveness is the single biggest school-based contributor to learning," said Kate Walsh, President of NCTQ. "Just like in every other profession, the quality of their training has a tremendous impact on how well teachers perform. The only way we will meet the challenge of ensuring that all our country's students get the excellent teachers they deserve is to transform teacher preparation."

In the 2008-09 academic year, the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) produced more than 300 of the 4,500 new teachers who graduated in Minnesota, writes Van Eendeburg. However, the CEHD has not indicated that they will cooperate with the review despite being sent a formal request to participate in July.

"As a student at the University and an active member of Students for Education Reform, I urge CEHD to embrace transparency and participate in this report. The devastating racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps in our K-12 education system can be significantly decreased by improving our teacher preparation programs. NCTQ's review — and CEHD's participation — is the first step."

The new teacher education review is a separate survey to U.S. News' normal college and university ranking guides and will be a more detailed examination of a wide variety of graduate and undergraduate programs.

"We want to know what teachers are being taught," said Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News. "We're partnering with NCTQ because they've developed a great methodology to look deeply into these important institutions and compare them across the country."

Current and prospective University students deserve access to information about the quality and effectiveness of the education program they have chosen or are considering, writes Van Eendeburg.

"If our program is strong, then we could be validated by a rigorous national study. If we fall short, we can find out what is working and what is not and start making major improvements to ensure all teachers are student-ready before they enter the classroom."

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