A quarter (26 percent) of the 875 programs evaluated ensure that they draw most aspiring teachers
from the top half of the college-going population, including 113 that are both selective and diverse.
Sixty years of research and evidence from higher-performing nations have demonstrated that better
selection by teacher preparation programs is related to the effectiveness of new teachers.
Although some people fear that increasing the selectivity of teacher prep programs will lead to greater teacher
shortages, programs have graduated a surplus of elementary school teachers for years.
suggests that more
selective programs may actually increase the number of teachers by making teaching programs more prestigious.
The report grades programs on selectivity based on how likely they are to admit aspiring teachers from the
top half of college students based on the minimum or average SAT/ACT score of the institution or the program (using
a class average or requirement for all individually), or a minimum GPA.
Too many teacher preparation programs are not selective. Out of 875 programs, half (50 percent) earn
an A or a B for ensuring that their candidates come from the top half of the college-going population based on their
institution’s selectivity. Another
(6 percent) earn an A or a B for having a program-level requirement that
teacher candidates (or an average across a class) have high standardized test scores or GPAs for admission. These
52 programs demonstrate that programs can follow the path of higher admissions standards even if they are housed in
less selective institutions. The remaining programs (44 percent) cannot ensure that most of their incoming candidates
are among the top half of college students.
Half of all selective programs (113) are also diverse, earning them an A+ in this area. Programs can
earn an A+ by being more diverse than the program’s institution as a whole or more diverse than their state’s teacher
prove that teacher prep programs can be both selective and diverse.
Change Over Time:
Programs have made gains in some areas of selection criteria since our last release in 2014. The
number of undergraduate elementary teacher preparation programs in insufficiently selective institutions that require at
least a 3.0 GPA for admission has increased from 44 in 2014 to 71 today (out of 370 programs with data for
Two in five (39 percent) of the 820 undergraduate elementary programs evaluated provide instruction
in all five essential components of early reading instruction. Programs show marked improvement on this standard.
Reading proficiency underpins all later learning. Unfortunately, about 30 percent of all children do not
become capable readers. Using knowledge gained from decades of scientific research, effective reading instruction
could cut this unacceptable rate of failure by two-thirds or more.
This report evaluates programs on their coverage of the five essential components of effective reading:
phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
320 (39 percent) programs earn
an A or A+ for including instruction on all five essential components of
early reading instruction based on the best research available about what works in the teaching of reading.
Thirteen programs earn an A+ by teaching all five components and using high-quality textbooks. They are:
CO-Colorado Christian University
ID-Northwest Nazarene University
IN-Saint Joseph’s College
LA-Nicholls State University
NC-University of North Carolina at Charlotte
TX-University of Texas at Arlington
UT-Dixie State University
UT-Utah State University
WV-Fairmont State University
WV-West Liberty University
Change Over Time:
In 2016, 39 percent of programs earned an A or A+, up from 29 percent in 2014. More
programs are teaching each component than in 2014 and far more than in 2006.
Most programs’ course designs include comprehension (75 percent), and two-thirds include
vocabulary (64 percent) and phonics (62 percent). Only about half include fluency (48 percent) and phonemic awareness (46 percent).
Only 13 percent of the 860 teacher prep programs reviewed in this area address the critical topics
mathematicians say aspiring elementary teachers need in course lectures and required textbooks.
Teachers’ math knowledge adds up to greater student achievement. Basic arithmetic and number
operations represent the fundamental knowledge students need to build their understanding of more advanced math.
Elementary teachers need college-level comprehension of advanced topics so that their definitions and explanations will
match what students will learn later and also to help their students understand the underlying concepts rather than just
This understanding requires specialized mathematics coursework for prospective elementary teachers beyond
just methods courses. The report checks that programs provide candidates with significant and repeated exposure to
essential elementary-level topics in numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, and data analysis (and probability).
In this report only 112 (13 percent) programs earn
at least an A for requiring no less than one course in the
methods of teaching elementary mathematics to young children and a minimum three courses that cover at least 75
percent of topics identified by mathematicians as critical.
Only nine programs earn an A+ for going beyond the requirements to earn an A by covering 90 percent of
topics. They are:
GA-Middle Georgia State University
IN-Indiana University–South Bend
IA-Iowa State University
MA-Worcester State University
MN-Winona State University
OH-University of Rio Grande
WI-University of Wisconsin–Madison
Change Over Time:
While the percentage of programs earning at least an A increased from 8 percent in 2014 to 13
percent in 2016, the percentage that failed also grew—from 34 percent to 37 percent.
Many programs require no elementary math courses (other than methods courses), and the average number of required courses is just two.
Only 5 percent of the 875 programs evaluated ensure that aspiring elementary teachers know the
science, history, and geography and the literature and composition content they will teach.
Since elementary classroom teachers teach concepts from all the core subjects, they need a broad
knowledge of science, history, and literature. Therefore, their prep programs should demand that aspiring teachers take
a range of courses in these areas so that they can teach this content at a high level.
To earn a good grade, a program must require that teacher candidates obtain broad knowledge of the content
taught in elementary school by taking a college-level course or by passing an adequate test in two out of four literature
and composition topics, three out of five history/social studies topics, and two out of three science topics (including
one lab course). The focus here is on content—the subjects teachers need to know—not the methods used to teach
those subjects. Courses that are overly broad or narrow or requirements that allow candidates to select from a range of
courses that includes too many options not relevant to the elementary curriculum do not count.
Just 5 percent of programs earn at least an A on other elementary content while 37 percent earn
Only three programs earn an A+ for requiring a course in fine arts in addition to meeting the criteria for an A
by having adequate requirements in literature and composition, history and geography, and the sciences:
NM-University of the Southwest
TN-Martin Methodist College
Change Over Time:
The 2016 report found little change in content coverage—from 3 percent earning an A in 2014 to
5 percent this year (with a slightly modified scoring approach).
Many programs do require at least some content. Half require at least two out of four literature
and composition topics, with 83 percent requiring composition and 50 percent requiring children’s literature. Only 18
percent require a course or test in at least three out of five history and social studies topics, with 59 percent requiring
U.S. history. Despite the enormous importance of science, just 12 percent of programs call for courses or testing
in two out of three science topics, with two-thirds of programs not requiring even one science course (or requiring a
course that was too broad or narrow). However, for each science, far more institutions require a course with a lab than
one without a lab.
In addition, 9 percent of programs direct candidates to develop deeper content knowledge in a single teachable subject
by requiring either a major or minor (17 programs) or at least 18 hours of additional coursework in that subject
Only 5 percent of the 851 programs evaluated incorporate the elements of a quality program into their
student-teaching experience. For example, only 7 percent make any attempt to evaluate the qualifications of their
Student teaching serves as a capstone experience for teacher candidates by providing them an
opportunity for practice under the guidance of a veteran teacher with periodic feedback from a program supervisor who
sees the aspiring teacher in action.
This report examines how often the program requires its supervisors to observe and provide written feedback
to student teachers and how much control the program has over the selection of cooperating teachers.
Just 3 percent earn
an A (and 2 percent a B) by making an effort to match student teachers with strong
cooperating teachers and requiring program supervisors to provide student teachers with at least four observations
incorporating documented feedback (five is the minimum shown by research to be effective).
Just two-fifths require a supervisor from the program to conduct at least five observations of the student
teacher that produce documented feedback, and another third require four. Only about 7 percent of programs collect
any meaningful information on each cooperating teachers’ skills, and only about 1 percent screen cooperating teachers
for both their mentorship and effectiveness as a teacher. The remaining programs (around 93 percent) accept
cooperating teachers suggested by a school district without knowing much about that teacher’s effectiveness or ability
to mentor adult learners.
Change Over Time:
This result has not changed substantially since 2014.
Two in five (42 percent) of the 661 teacher preparation programs give feedback to their student
teachers on all or nearly all key areas of classroom management. Programs are most likely to provide feedback on
student teachers’ ability to establish or reinforce standards of behavior and to maximize the amount of class time when
students are focused on learning, and least likely to provide feedback on student teachers’ use of meaningful praise to
encourage positive behavior.
Students need an organized, well-run classroom in order to learn. But new teachers find classroom
management consistently challenging. Teacher candidates should be trained in a coherent management approach
focusing on the areas that receive the strongest support in research.
This report grades programs on the indicators included in the observation and evaluation forms that provide
feedback on observations of student teachers. These include establishing and maintaining standards of behavior,
maximizing learning time, using meaningful praise and other forms of positive reinforcement, and addressing different
levels of disruptive behaviors.
Too few programs focus on classroom management. Only two in five (42 percent) of the 661 teacher
an A or a B for providing feedback to their student teachers on all or nearly all of the five key
areas of classroom management.
Programs are most likely to provide feedback on student teachers’ ability to establish standards of behavior
(76 percent) and maximizing learning time (67 percent) and are least likely to evaluate student teachers on their use of
meaningful praise to encourage positive behavior (24 percent).
Change Over Time:
There has been a slight improvement since 2014. Of the 382 undergraduate elementary
programs with classroom management grades in both 2014 and 2016, 42 percent earned the equivalent of an A or
a B in 2014, compared to 47 percent today. The number of programs providing feedback on addressing significant
misbehavior increased by eight percentage points, while the number of programs providing feedback on using
meaningful praise dropped three percentage points.