Who Teaches The Teachers?
The Kansas City Public Library recently hosted a presentation by and conversation with National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) President Kate Walsh. The discussion focused on the NCTQ’s new release, “Teacher Prep Review: A Review of the Nation’s Teacher Prep Programs.” The study was supported in part by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
According to its release:
The Review looked at 1,130 institutions that prepare 99 percent of the nation’s traditionally trained teachers.
Overwhelmingly, it found that U.S. colleges and universities are turning out first-year teachers with inadequate knowledge and classroom management skills. On a four-star scale, less than 10 percent of rated programs earned three stars or more.
One startling finding that Walsh highlighted: There often are higher academic standards to play football than to get into a school of education. In fact, many of the report’s findings were damning of schools of education, including in Missouri and Kansas.
Walsh saved her most pointed comments for early education approaches to teaching reading. She said many schools do not emphasize the proven methods for teaching reading. Too often education students are told they will figure out their own methods of class management and reading instruction, even when there is research indicating some approaches are better than others.
University of Missouri administrators may have expected they would perform poorly, as they actually denied researchers access to teacher syllabi, claiming they were intellectual property and protected under federal copyright law. A judge has ruled in favor of the school’s refusal. That’s right, the university system did not want to share even an outline of what it teaches its students, the same outlines that are distributed to students at the beginning of the course.
That is too bad, but their resistance won’t last long. NCTQ will be conducting a study of education schools each year and publishing the results in partnership with U.S. News & World Report, which has become the standard-bearer for university ratings. Missouri will eventually have to share with everyone exactly what it teaches its would-be teachers. We can’t move forward without knowing where we are right now; universities should support this. Moreover, students should have access to this information when deciding which college they would like to attend.