U.S. Colleges Produce Poorly Prepared Teachers

by Colette Moran

U.S. News & World Report has published the results of a study by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit advocacy group. It is the first comprehensive review of the education programs for elementary and high-school teachers at U.S. colleges. The report, as examined by the Wall Street Journal, is not good.

U.S. colleges of education are an “industry of mediocrity” that churns out teachers ill-prepared to work in elementary and high-school classrooms. . . . The [NCTQ], which has long promoted overhauling U.S. teacher preparation, assigned ratings of up to four stars to 1,200 programs at 608 institutions that collectively account for 72% of the graduates of all such programs in the nation. . . . 

The council included criteria such as the selectivity of the teacher programs, as well as an evaluation of their syllabi, textbooks and other teaching materials. It said fewer than 10% of the programs earned three or more stars. Only four, all for future high-school teachers, received four stars. About 14% got zero stars, and graduate-level programs fared particularly poorly. . . .

As evidence mounts that teacher quality is one of the biggest determinants of student achievement, critics have complained that teacher-training programs have lax admission standards, scattered curriculum, and fail to give aspiring teachers real-life classroom training. The report echoes the complaints, saying many graduates lack the necessary classroom-management skills and subject knowledge needed. The report contends that it is too easy to get into teacher-preparation programs, with only about a quarter of them restricting admissions to applicants in the top half of their class. The typical grade-point-average to get into undergraduate programs is about 2.5, it said.

The report also found that 75 percent of the programs were not preparing their graduates to teach reading to young students.

More here.