WASHINGTON - The nation's teacher-training programs do not adequately prepare would-be educators for the classroom, even as they produce almost triple the number of graduates needed, according to a survey of more than 1,000 programs released Tuesday.
The National Council on Teacher Quality review is a scathing assessment of colleges' education programs and their admission standards, training and value. The report, which drew immediate criticism, was designed to be provocative and urges leaders at teacher-training programs to rethink what skills would-be educators need to be taught to thrive in the classrooms of today and tomorrow.
"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 an ever-increasing diversity of ethnic and socioeconomic students, the report's authors wrote.
"If this were a research paper produced by a student, it would get a failing grade. To use this as a means of rating institutions is ridiculous," University of Kansas School of Education Dean Rick Ginsberg said.
Some 239,000 teachers are trained each year, and 98,000 are hired - meaning too many students are admitted and only a fraction find work.
Among the council's other findings:
• Only a quarter of education programs limit admission to students in the top half of their high school class. The remaining three quarters of programs allow students who fared poorly in high school to train as teachers.
• 3-out-of-4 teacher training programs do not train potential educators how to teach reading based on the latest research. Instead, future teachers are left to develop their own methods.
• Fewer than 1-in-9 programs for elementary educators are preparing students to teach Common Core State Standards, the achievement benchmarks for math and reading that have been adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia. For programs preparing high-school teachers, that rate is roughly a third of programs.
• Only 7 percent of programs ensure student teachers are partnered with effective classroom teachers.
Most often, student teachers are placed in a classroom where a teacher is willing to have them, regardless of experience.
• When asked how much experience they have, the most common answer from teachers is one year. First-year teachers reach about 1.5 million students.
The National Council on Teacher Quality, an advocacy group founded in 2000 to push an education overhaul that challenges the current system, has on its board veterans of the administrations of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
For its review, the council identified 18 standards for teacher preparation programs, such as instructing would-be educators how to implement Common Core State Standards, teach non-native English speakers and manage classrooms. The group spent eight years narrowing the standards and did 10 pilot studies.
According to the report:
• Two college programs, the undergraduate secondary education program at the University of Arizona and the graduate secondary-education program at Arizona State University received "highly rated" scores - three out of four stars.
• The UA's other scores were: Undergraduate elementary program received 1 1/2 stars out of four; the graduate secondary program also received 1 1/2 stars out of four; the graduate special education program received 1 star out of four. ASU's other education program garnered scores of 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 stars out of four stars.
• Several Arizona schools' programs that were rated received no scores - did not meet standards - in the report: Grand Canyon University's graduate secondary and Northern Arizona's graduate secondary program, and Prescott College's graduate elementary and secondary programs failed to garner scores. NAU's other education programs received scores ranging from 1 star to 2.5 stars out of four . The University of Phoenix programs were not rated.
To see the full report go to www.nctq.org/dmsStage/Teacher-Prep-Review-2013-Report
Source: National Council on Teacher Quality report.