a comprehensive review of 2,500 teacher
programs in the U.S. rated on 19 standards
find the best in teacher prep
By Institution
By Location

or

nctq standards for traditional and non-traditional
teacher prep
The Teacher Prep Review (TPR) evaluates critical areas of traditional and non-traditional teacher preparation using specific and measurable standards. These standards identify programs whose teachers are most likely to produce the best academic outcomes for their students.
Standards for the TPR are aligned to rigorous state learning standards and best practices from states and nations with the highest performing students. They were developed in consultation with a broad range of experts and after conducting a wide-ranging review of high-quality research in teacher preparation. We have worked with faculty and deans from schools of education, international and domestic experts on teacher education, PK-12 leaders, and economists. We have also consulted principals and superintendents to find out what they look for when hiring new teachers.

The Review's standards are field tested and continuously improved. Through their use in 14 state and national studies and two previous Teacher Prep Reviews, they have been continuously refined to illuminate features of teacher preparation that are important to consumers and policy makers.

Below, under each standard for Traditional and Non-Traditional teacher preparation is information on the research basis for each NCTQ standard (found in documents under "Understanding the Standard"), Teacher Prep Review findings from the most recent edition, and guidance for teacher educators.
Explore the standards and resources to improve both types of programs.
Choose:
Selection Criteria

The program screens for academic caliber when selecting teacher candidates.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

Understanding Our Selection Criteria Standard

Learn More About Selection Criteria

Matt on Teacher Prep Academic Requirements (runs 00:37 sec)
June 2013
Matt McCabe, a tenth grade world history teacher with four years experience, says that teacher prep programs should have more rigorous academic standards.
"The academic requirements for a teacher should be at or above that of lawyers, of doctors, of engineers, of anything else that's intellectually demanding," says McCabe.
Dowan on Teacher Prep and Selection Criteria (runs 1:14 min)
June 2013
Dowan McNair-Lee, an eighth grade English teacher with ten years experience, talks about the importance of setting high academic standards for those entering the teaching profession.
"I attended a university that was an open enrollment university, so anyone that walked in the door could basically say that they wanted to be a teacher," says McNair-Lee.
Early Reading

The program trains teacher candidates to teach reading as prescribed by increasingly rigorous state student learning standards.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Early Reading:

Understanding Our Early Reading Standard

Learn More About Early Reading

Stephanie on Teacher Prep and Learning to Teach Reading (runs 1:04 min)
June 2013
Stephanie Tsakeris, a seventh grade social studies teacher with eight years experience, speaks about how important it is to have the skills to teach reading and what happens when you don't.
"I taught reading for four years and I found myself oftentimes very confused or unsure about how to help students comprehend or be engaged in reading," says Tsakeris.
Dwight on Teacher Prep and Learning to Teach Reading (runs 1:20 min)
June 2013
Dwight Davis, a fifth grade English/language arts and social studies teacher with eight years experience, speaks about how important it is to have the skills to teach reading and what happens when you don't.
"When I first came into teaching, I had students that ... I didn't even know how many reading levels they were behind. I had no way of assessing where students were reading," says Davis.

Groundwork

  1. What Education Schools Aren't Teaching About Reading--and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning

    May 2006

    In this groundbreaking report, NCTQ studied a large representative sampling of ed schools to find out what future elementary teachers are and are not learning about reading instruction. The report, the most comprehensive of its kind, determined that education schools are ignoring the principles of good reading instruction that would prepare prospective teachers how to better teach reading.

Elementary Mathematics

The program prepares teacher candidates to successfully teach to increasingly rigorous state student learning standards for elementary math.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Elementary Mathematics:

Understanding Our Elementary Mathematics Standard

Learn More About Elementary Mathematics

Leighton on Teacher Prep and Learning to Teach ElementaryMmath (runs 00:42 sec)
June 2013
Leighton Thomas, a third grade math teacher with four years teaching experience, talks about the importance of learning to break down math concepts for children. 
"I think that it's really important as an elementary teacher to understand the math methods. It's so important to build that foundation ... all of math success hinges on those early concepts," says Thomas. 
Louisiana State University: Strong in Preparing Teachers in Elementary Math Content
June 2013
NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review gave Louisiana State University four out of four stars for preparing undergraduates in Common Core elementary mathematics. The Review takes a close look at the quality of training provided by 2,420 teacher preparation programs across the country.

Groundwork

  1. No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America's Education Schools

    June 2008

    American students' chronically poor performance in mathematics on international tests may begin in the earliest grades, handicapped by the weak knowledge of mathematics of their own elementary teachers. NCTQ looks at the quality of preparation provided by a representative sampling of institutions in nearly every state. We also provide a test developed by leading mathematicians which assesses for the knowledge that elementary teachers should acquire during their preparation. Imagine the implications of an elementary teaching force being able to pass this test.

Elementary Content

The program ensures that teacher candidates have the broad content preparation necessary to successfully teach to increasingly rigorous state student learning standards.

» Explore best practices and commentary
Secondary Content in the Sciences

The program ensures that teacher candidates have the content preparation in secondary sciences necessary to successfully teach to increasingly rigorous state standards for college and career readiness.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Secondary Content in the Sciences:

Understanding Our Secondary Content in the Sciences Standard

Groundwork

  1. Background on 51 Flavors of Secondary Certification

    Across states, the design of secondary certification is chaotic, with one state often greatly differing from the next. Some states limit secondary certifications to grades 8-12, while others include grades 5-7 as well. In content, one state may offer only a General Science certification, while another offers single-subject certifications in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. In short, there are 51 models for secondary certification. This brief defines critical differences between states in secondary certification and provides examples of the most well-developed designs in teacher preparation.

  2. Infographic on Secondary Certification

    In one document, NCTQ has compiled all secondary certifications that are offered in core subjects (English, math, the sciences, and the social sciences) across states. The adequacy of licensing tests is addressed with specific information provided on certifications for which possible teaching assignments do not match expectations. This document is a resource for quickly finding secondary certifications available across the country.

Secondary Content in the Social Sciences

The program ensures that teacher candidates have the content preparation in secondary social sciences necessary to successfully teach to increasingly rigorous state standards for college and career readiness.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Secondary Content in the Social Sciences:

Understanding Our Secondary Content in the Social Sciences Standard

Groundwork

  1. Background on the 51 Flavors of Secondary Certification

    Across states, the design of secondary certification is chaotic, with one state often greatly differing from the next. Some states limit secondary certifications to grades 8-12, while others extend to grades 5-12. In content, one state may offer only a general Social Studies certification, while another offers single-subject certifications in Economics, History, Political Science, and Psychology. What's more: in states with a general Social Studies certification allowing teachers to "teach all," single-subject majors, such as those in Anthropology or Psychology, can apply for certification with virtually no coursework in History or other social studies content. This brief defines critical differences between states in secondary certification and provides examples of the most well-developed designs in teacher preparation.

  2. Infographic on Secondary Certification

    In one document, NCTQ has compiled all secondary certifications that are offered in core subjects (English, math, the sciences, and the social sciences) across states. The adequacy of licensing tests is addressed with specific information provided on certifications for which possible teaching assignments do not match expectations. This document is a resource for quickly finding secondary certifications available across the country.

Content for Special Education

The program ensures that teacher candidates’ content preparation aligns with increasingly rigorous state student learning standards in the grades they are certified to teach.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Content for Special Education:

Understanding Our Content for Special Education Standard

Learn More About Content for Special Education

Classroom Management

The program ensures that teacher candidates practice specific techniques for managing the classroom.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

Understanding Our Classroom Management Standard

Learn More About Classroom Management

America's Teachers Weigh in on the Importance of Classroom Management (runs about 2 mins)
December 2013
America's teachers weigh in on the importance of classroom management. "The best lesson plan of the year won't go well if a teacher isn't armed with effective classroom management techniques," says Michelle, 3rd year teacher, Wisconsin.

Groundwork

  1. Training Our Future Teachers: Classroom Management

    December 2013

    This report examines traditional teacher preparation in classroom management, which is a struggle for many teachers, especially new ones. It studies over 100 programs, both elementary and secondary, graduate and undergraduate. The report identifies the classroom management strategies that garner the strongest research support and looks at the extent to which programs teach and offer practice in these strategies in instructional and clinical coursework, as well as in student teaching.

Fundamentals of Instruction

The program ensures that teacher candidates have opportunities to practice fundamental instructional strategies.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

Understanding Our Fundamentals of Instruction Standard

Learn More About Fundamentals of Instruction

Groundwork

  1. Learning About Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know

    January 2016

    To write this report, we combed through thousands of pages of teacher education textbooks for discussion of research-based strategies that every teacher candidate should learn in order to promote student learning and retention. What few references we found were buried among pages discussing teaching strategies with much less -- often no -- scientific merit. This report asserts that textbook publishers and authors are failing the teaching profession, students and the public by neglecting to provide our next generation of teachers with the fundamental knowledge they need to make learning "stick."

Student Teaching

The program ensures that teacher candidates have a strong student teaching experience.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

Understanding Our Student Teaching Standard

Learn More About Student Teaching

Alyson on Teacher Prep and Mentor Teachers (runs 00:58 sec)
June 2013
Alyson Roberts, an elementary reading intervention teacher with nine years experience, talks about the importance of being paired with an expert mentor during student teaching.
"Being paired with a strong teacher that knows how to teach all students and to communicate that to an aspiring teacher is essential," says Roberts.
Arizona State University: Providing a Strong Student Teaching Experience
June 2013
NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review gave Arizona State University four out of four stars for its undergraduate and graduate student teaching experiences. The Review takes a close look at the quality of training provided by 2,420 teacher preparation programs across the country.
Eliza on Teacher Prep and Student Teaching (runs 1:08 min)
June 2013
Eliza Ramirez, a middle school English/language arts teacher with five years experience, talks about the importance of having an experienced and high-performing mentor teacher.
"I think that the teaching program should feel that the student teaching component is one of the most important parts of what they offer their students," says Ramirez.

Groundwork

  1. Student Teaching in the United States

    July 2011

    Student teaching serves as a capstone experience for nearly 200,000 teacher candidates each year. In an effort to understand how to get student teaching "right," NCTQ embarked on an ambitious effort to measure student teaching programs nationwide, assessing the degree to which they have the right pieces in place necessary for delivering a high quality program.

Secondary Methods

The program requires teacher candidates to practice instructional techniques specific to their content area.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Secondary Methods:

What You Can Do on Secondary Methods

Understanding Our Secondary Methods Standard

Learn More About Secondary Methods

Lipscomb University: Strong Overall in Preparing Secondary Teachers
June 2013
NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review gave Lipscomb University in Tennessee four out of four stars for its undergraduate secondary teacher prep program. The Review takes a close look at the quality of training provided by 2,420 teacher preparation programs across the country.

Instructional Design for Special Education

The program trains candidates to design instruction for teaching students with special needs.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Instructional Design for Special Education:

Understanding Our Instructional Design for Special Education Standard

Archived

Early Reading for English Language Learners

The program prepares elementary teacher candidates to teach reading to English language learners.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Early Reading for English Language Learners:

What You Can Do on Early Reading for English Language Learners

Understanding Our Early Reading for English Language Learners Standard

Struggling Readers

The program prepares elementary teacher candidates to teach reading skills to students at risk of reading failure.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Struggling Readers:

Understanding Our Struggling Readers Standard

Assessment and Data

The program trains teacher candidates how to assess learning and use student performance data to inform instruction.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Assessment and Data:

Understanding Our Assessment and Data Standard

Learn More About Assessment and Data

Marisol on Teacher Prep and Using Student Data (runs 1:26 min)
June 2013
Marisol Castillo, a high school English teacher with nine years experience, talks about the importance of learning to use data for feedback on student progress.
"The reality is that we are going toward a more data-centric way of looking at teaching and I feel like teachers need to be prepared for what it means to look at data," says Castillo.
David on Teacher Prep and Using Student Data (runs 1:03 min)
June 2013
David Gesualdi, an elementary school physical education teacher with six years experience, talks about the importance of using student data to inform instruction.
"I ... have a number in my head of where that student performed on the previous assessment and that's what drives my instruction," says Gesualdi.

Groundwork

  1. What Teacher Preparation Programs Teach about K-12 Assessment: A review

    May 2012

    This report provides information on the preparation provided to teacher candidates from teacher training programs so that they can fully use assessment data to improve classroom instruction.

Equity

The program ensures that teacher candidates experience schools that are successful serving students who have been traditionally underserved.

» Explore best practices and commentary
Outcomes

The program and institution collect and monitor data on their graduates.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What You Can Do on Outcomes

Understanding Our Outcomes Standard

Evidence of Effectiveness

The program’s graduates have a positive impact on student learning.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

What We See Around the Country in Evidence of Effectiveness:

Understanding Our Evidence of Effectiveness Standard

Rigor

The program holds teacher candidates to the same or a higher level of expectations regarding coursework and grading standards as that to which students in the rest of the institution are held.

» Explore best practices and commentary
x

Groundwork

  1. Training Our Future Teachers: Easy A's and What's Behind Them

    November 2014

    Using evidence from more than 500 colleges and universities producing nearly half of the nation's new teachers annually, this report answers two questions that go to the heart of whether the demands of teacher preparation are well matched to the demands of the classroom: Are teacher candidates graded too easily, misleading them about their readiness to teach? Are teacher preparation programs providing sufficiently rigorous training, or does the approach to training drive higher grades?

NCTQ's standards for teacher prep address selection criteria, subject matter expertise and classroom-based candidate training and support. In crafting these standards, we considered the essential features of non-traditional certification and also made the standards as parallel as possible to the three key standards we apply to all traditional graduate secondary preparation programs. That type of traditional program most closely resembles the non-traditional certification programs in our sample.


Standard A: Selection Criteria
By employing sufficiently high but pragmatic admissions standards, the program is designed to attract talented individuals who otherwise would not choose to teach.
The program requires:
A.1.a. A minimum GPA of 3.0 or above or submission of a score on a standardized assessment (such as the SAT or GRE) that places the applicant in the top 50 percent of the college-going population.
OR
A.1.b.
The minimum average GPA of all applicants who were accepted for training the previous year is 3.3 or above (certified by the program's registrar or someone of similar stature).
AND
A.1.c An audition process that includes, but need not be limited to, tasks that assess the applicant's (1) classroom presence, (2) problem-solving and interpersonal skills, and (3) capacity to persevere in the pursuit of improved student outcomes.


Standard B: Subject Area Expertise
Before teacher candidates have full-fledged teaching responsibilities, the program ensures their content mastery in every subject for which they could be responsible for instruction.
B.1. Prior to entering the classroom as the teacher of record, secondary teacher candidates' proficiency is demonstrated either by one or more passing scores on the number of standardized assessments  necessary to provide a separate score for each subject for which the candidate could be responsible for instruction, or by transcript reviews that ascertain that coursework meets the criteria established below:
B.1.a. A teacher candidate seeking certification in mathematics or English/language arts must have a major in that subject consisting of at least 30 semester credit hours (SCHs).
B.1.b. A teacher candidate seeking science certification in a state that requires single-subject certification must have a major (of at least 30 SCHs) in the single teachable science discipline for which certification will be awarded. A teacher candidate seeking science certification in a state that offers general science certification must have coursework preparation that consists of at least 15 SCHs in at least two teachable science disciplines (biology, chemistry, physics or earth science).
B.1.c. A teacher candidate seeking social science certification in a state that requires single-subject certification must have a major in the single teachable social science discipline for which certification will be awarded of at least 30 SCHs. A teacher candidate seeking social science certification in a state that offers general social science certification must have a major in history, or coursework preparation that consists of at least 15 SCHs in history and an additional 15 SCHs in at least one other teachable social science (government/political science, economics or psychology).


Standard C: Supervised Practice
The program provides adequate supervised classroom instruction practice opportunities.
C.1.a. The internship or residency program provides a minimum of eight weeks of classroom-based clinical experience with: a) at least three weeks (or its equivalent) engaged in full classroom instruction, and b) at least five observations of instruction with written feedback from a program supervisor.
OR
C.1.b.
The internship program provides a co-teaching arrangement for the first six weeks of any placement and at least five observations with written feedback from a program supervisor in the first 12 weeks.
OR
C.1.c.
The program provides supervised practice with a combination of features in C.1.a. and C.1.b. above.
C.2. The program requires that cooperating teachers in the clinical experience, or mentor teachers or co-teachers in the internship or residency be proven capable mentors(or receive mentorship training) and proven effective instructors (as measured by student performance).


Standard D: Evidence of Effectiveness
The program's graduates have a positive impact on student learning.
D.1. The state's own criteria for evaluating and rating alternative certification programs and identifying those that meet or exceed state standards will determine a program's rating under this standard.Non-tradtional stuff here