22nd 2011
NCTQ Student Teacher Study Raises Valid Questions for Colorado K-12 Education

Posted under education schools & PPC & Research & State Legislature & Teachers

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I have a great deal of respect for the work of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). As I pointed out a few months ago, NCTQ has been spearheading an important review of the university programs that prepare teachers for K-12 schools in the U.S.

Yesterday the organization released a report highlighting one phase of its research — namely, student teaching. Among the important standards examined were the amount of classroom time and commitment expected of student teachers, the role the program plays in matching students to cooperating teachers, as well as requirements that cooperating teachers have at least three years experience and a proven record of effectiveness at improving student learning.

NCTQ selected about 10 percent of the nation’s 1,400 teacher preparation programs to create a random sample across the USA. You may not be surprised to learn that the overall results are less than stellar. But as Education News Colorado’s Todd Engdahl reports, one of the three Colorado programs selected was one of only 10 nationwide to receive the highest mark from NCTQ: Colorado Christian University. The two other institutions from our state fared much worse:

The validity of the report was dismissed by Eugene Sheehan, dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado, the state’s largest teacher preparation program. “These studies aren’t real in-depth.”…

Nella Anderson, director of the teacher education program at Western, said in an email, “The study did not accurately evaluate our current program, even based on their own rating system.”

Sheehan offers a fuller critique on his blog. He may have a valid point — I don’t know (NCTQ collects more documentation than NCATE, but doesn’t make on-site visits as part of an ongoing accreditation process) — however, there is no denying that NCTQ used a pretty careful methodology to come up with their results.

Rather than fixing the blame on this program or that program, I believe the real value of NCTQ’s work is to shine the light on how little we know about, and therefore focus on, the bottom-line impact of teacher preparation programs on educator effectiveness and (ultimately) student learning. NCTQ makes a rather compelling case there. Does research of teacher prep programs study the impact on students in the classroom? Very little. And how much do the traditional accrediting agencies look at the bottom-line results? Not too much, I suspect.

In 2010 the Colorado General Assembly adopted Senate Bill 36, which charges the state’s department of education to “prepare a report on the effectiveness of educator preparation programs” using student growth data, by July 1, 2011, and available to the public within 30 days thereafter. Or about a week from now by my estimation. That should provide an interesting postscript, and hopefully move the ball forward to help raise the bar for effective instruction in Colorado.


2 Responses to “NCTQ Student Teacher Study Raises Valid Questions for Colorado K-12 Education”

  1. Gary Scofield on 09 Aug 2011 at 11:57 am #

    The problem with student teacher programs is bigger than thought of here. I’m a teacher who had these student teachers in my classrooms even though I wasn’t the mentor teacher listed for that high school with the university program. These student teachers were basicly farmed out through out the high school by the only teacher who worked wth CSU directly. The program that evolved at our high school was not a one teacher working with one student teacher program as it was started and I noted at our high school previously. These student teachers were handled in groups for some of their classroom and their after school teaching experiences I witnessed. The teacher put in control of these student teachers was done so because of her relationship with the high school Principal not because of her teaching experiences in the classroom just like this blog suggests.

    So I believe there is an issue with Classroom (Professional) Teachers only coming from colleges school’s of education teacher preparation programs or just from CDE Testing for certification. I feel industry experts like myself who have proven their ability to teach & achieve effective results for their students over years of classroom experiences should be considered “Professional” Licensed teachers with the ability to work in classrooms throughout all Colorado School Districts in their subjects of endorsements. I know of at least 12 Colorado School Districts which have local rules not allow them that discriminate against Professional Subject specific teachers holding jobs or even being employed in their home school classrooms. Where are these rules at if Colorado asks for a wavier from NCLB?

    Why shouldn’t we (communities) want the best teachers possible for our students in each of our school’s different subject’s classrooms? Why is it now that only Teachers from University Education Department Preparation Programs acceptable as classroom teachers?

  2. Ed is Watching » Colorado Has Made Some Progress, But a C for Teacher Policy Isn’t Good Enough on 30 Jan 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    [...] this is the same respected NCTQ I’ve talked about before regarding their study of teacher preparation programs. In fact, my Education Policy Center friends last year recorded an iVoices podcast with [...]

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