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June 18, 2013 at 10:26 AM

WSU makes honor roll, but most teacher prep programs get low marks

Washington State University’s teacher preparation program was one of only 104 such programs in the nation that made the honor roll for quality in an advocacy group’s newly released study of teacher training programs.

The WSU undergraduate program that trains secondary school teachers received three stars from the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Prep Review.

Most Washington state universities didn’t fare as well, earning just one or two stars. And two programs – both at University of Washington branch campuses – were labeled among the weakest programs.

The graduate programs in secondary education at Bothell and Tacoma campuses were marked with a “consumer alert” designation, signaling that while they “certainly can produce good teachers, it is less by design than happenstance.”

The report says that “a strong sentiment exists among many public educators that preparation programs are not delivering new teachers with needed skills, forcing districts to dedicate professional development dollars to accomplish what they believe higher education should have done in the first place.”

Colleges and universities have become “an industry of mediocrity, churning out first-year teachers with classroom management skills and content knowledge inadequate to thrive in classrooms with ever-increasing ethnic and socioeconomic student diversity.”

The review collected data on the 1,130 institutions that it says prepare 99 percent of the nation’s traditionally trained new teachers. It made its determinations largely by focusing on the programs’ curricula and syllabi, and by looking at admissions standards.

It uses a four-star system to rate the schools. Less than 10 percent of the programs earned three stars, and only four programs – none in Washington – earned four stars.

About 78 percent of the programs earned two or fewer stars, “ratings that connote, at best, mediocrity.” Most programs in Washington fell into this category.

For example, Central Washington University, which educates the largest number of new teachers in Washington, received one and a half stars for its undergradate program for elementary school teachers, and two and a half stars for its undergraduate program for secondary school teachers.

The report also found that it is too easy to get into a teacher preparation program, with more than a quarter of the schools restricting admissions to students in the top half of their class. It further concluded that very few schools are preparing teachers adequately for the new Common Core State Standards.

Comments | More in Education | Topics: National Council on Teacher Quality, teacher preparation program, Washington State University


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