Tuesday, June 17, 2014 the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its second annual review of teacher preparation programs (link to the full report). Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ included the following comments in her statement to the press:
- Teacher preparation in the United States continues to be a major concern and must be addressed.
- Teacher preparation programs continue to fail to teach reading effectively.
- Failure in the U.S. to produce sufficient numbers of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) graduates can be traced directly back to elementary math preparation.
Significant findings from the review:
- Just 26 elementary programs (of 1,668 ranked programs) made the NCTQ list of top-ranked programs. The NCTQ 2014 review serves as a consumer guide for teacher preparation consumers: elementary teacher training candidates as well as school districts recruiting classroom-ready teachers. The 26 top ranked programs would fulfill the needs of both.
- University of Nebraska Lincoln had the highest ranked program in the state, though Nebraska, 17 other states and the District of Columbia had no teacher prep program which earned national Top Ranked status.
- Teacher preparation continues to disregard scientifically based methods of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, guided oral fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension. (Link here) Nebraska met this standard in just 36 percent of elementary teacher preparation programs. (Link here)
- In Nebraska, only the undergraduate program at Union College nearly met the standard for elementary content preparation.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has reported Nebraska student learning failure in reading and math for decades. NAEP Nebraska fourth grade 2013 results include:
- 23% of poor children score proficient or above in reading, 16% of Black children and 22% of Hispanic children
- 27% of poor children score proficient or above in mathematics, 12% of Black children and 20% of Hispanic children
According to Lincoln, Nebraska Vital Signs 2014:
- The poverty rate has increased 48% in the past decade and is higher than the national average.
- Lincoln counts 6 neighborhoods in extreme poverty; there were none 10 years ago.
- Homelessness has increased 41% in 7 years.
- The number of children in poverty has doubled in 6 years.
In a recent presentation, Mayor Beutler reported Lincoln does not have enough skilled workers to fill open positions. In addition, our city is experiencing a growing gang problem necessitating the hiring of additional police officers. A one-half cent increase in sales tax is proposed to meet a variety of rising costs.
We cannot spend our way out of this. Teacher preparation must be transformed. The NCTQ Teacher Prep Review 2014 has identified the institutions and areas of study in need of immediate, drastic, corrective action. This report calls into question the continued existence of programs which fail to properly prepare teachers for the classroom. Forces standing in the way of teacher preparation reform must be eliminated. It will take courage and independence to improve teacher preparation.
If education governing bodies continue to refuse reform, students/parents need education options. Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (Link here) are a powerful option to promote rapid transformation of education services delivery at all levels by providing education dollars directly to parents.
The studies are in; the time to act is now.