Teacher prep evaluation report has surprising results

WASHINGTON DC — The long-awaited evaluation of teacher preparation programs conducted by the National Center for Teacher Quality makes its debut today with some surprising results.

The national think-tank, which gets its funding from the Gates Foundation and others who support data-driven instruction, had the help of U.S. News and World Reports in rating more than 1,100 teacher preparation programs nationwide including 13 in Connecticut. Using a four-star scale, the group looks at admission standards, curriculum, and other measures such as student teaching experiences. Fewer than 10 percent of the institutions rated received three stars or better, earning themselves a place on the report’s “honor roll.”. One of them was Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven for its graduate secondary school program. Southern undergraduate education programs got two stars (or less) as did education prep programs at  Central and Eastern Connecticut State Universities.

Surprisingly, Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Western Connecticut State University in Danbury and the University of Connecticut all earned one star or one and a half star depending on the program.

Comments from the universities will be forthcoming today. Already, the American Federation of Teachers, in advance of the reports release, slammed the methodology and called the rating a “gimmick”

“Best-of and worst-of lists always garner attention, so we understand why NCTQ would use that device. While its ‘do not enter’ consumer alerts will make the intended splash, it’s hard to see how it will help strengthen teacher preparation programs or elevate the teaching profession,” said the union in a prepared statement.

The study concludes it is far to easy to get into teacher preparation programs, not enough schools are preparing teachers to teach the new Common Core State Standards most states are turning to, and after years of effort, not enough teachers are leaving college prepared to manage classrooms effectively and teach all students how to read. According to the report, more than 200,000 new teachers are created each year.

Connecticut is currently undergoing its own review of teacher preparation programs. A preliminary report that was issued earlier this year was short on specifics on how the programs should be changed to make them better.


Linda Lambeck