The Forum | General Education

New NCTQ Study Reveals Weak Standards in Teacher-Training Programs

July 9, 2013

Calling the schools that train America’s teachers an “industry of mediocrity,” our friends at the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) issued a devastating report on teacher-training programs at colleges and universities across America.

Based on objective evaluations of the standards, curricula, and outcomes at teacher-preparation programs, the NCTQ Teacher Prep Review found that the overwhelming majority of teacher-education programs do not properly prepare teachers to work in the classroom.  Among the findings:

  • In NCTQ’s four-star rating system, less than 10% of schools earned three or more stars, indicating that most programs cannot demonstrate strength across the areas that the NCTQ report studies.
  • Admissions standards in teacher prep are lax: only one out of four programs draws the majority of its students from the top 50% of college students
  • To take one sample subject, three-quarters of elementary-ed programs do not teach the methods of reading instruction that have been found to be most effective.

The effects of weak preparation are striking: so many teachers are trained in low-quality programs that completing a teacher-training program appears to make no difference in the quality of a teacher’s work. Only select, strong programs add real value to teachers in training—and the NCTQ study helps to identify them.

But those programs are not necessarily famous or exclusive: many little-known programs are quietly doing excellent work, turning out well-trained teachers each year by focusing on the essentials of teaching and subject-matter knowledge.  

At ACTA we are delighted to see NCTQ’s contribution to a field that has interested us for many years. Our publications, Educating Teachers and Teachers Who Can, warned about low standards and weak curricula at education programs and showed trustees how to demand accountability at their institutions. Trustees—especially those whose institutions offer teacher-preparation programs—should read this report carefully and insist that their institutions improve.


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