A preview of NCTQ Teacher Prep Review 2014

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Although the 2014 edition of the Teacher Prep Review won't roll off the presses (or the digital equivalent) until this June, NCTQ staff has already spent months examining the results of the 2013 edition, listening to feedback, and finding ways to improve our evaluation of teacher preparation. Our changes will make "TPR 2014" more readable and more useful to its consumers: prospective teacher candidates and hiring districts. 

Here's a quick look at what to expect:

The most visible change will be that TPR 2014 will rank programs instead of rating them as we did in 2013. Both NCTQ and US News & World Report will prominently feature lists of the country's top elementary and secondary programs overall and by region. Rankings will be largely based on the same  "Key Standards" that determined program ratings earlier: Selection Criteria and Student Teaching for all programs; Early Reading, Elementary Math and Elementary Content for elementary programs; Middle and High School Content for secondary programs. 

Scores on standards that didn't previously figure into program ratings will now gain the prominence they deserve by becoming factors in rankings: Classroom Management and Outcomes for all programs; Struggling Readers and English Language Learners for elementary programs; and Secondary Methods for secondary programs. This additional information will also allow us to highlight a larger number of exemplary programs.

Visual changes to TPR 2014 will include display of scores in easy-to-read Harvey balls, the graphic familiar to anyone who reads Consumer Reports.  

We've also added a new standard and introduced more nuance to our scoring of existing standards to make our evaluations more meaningful.

The new standard, Rigor, reflects the important role that demanding coursework plays in attracting capable students to teacher prep and preparing them for the challenges that await them in the classroom. The standard examines whether expectations in coursework for teacher candidates are lower than those for other students on a campus (resulting in higher grades with less effort) by comparing the frequency with which teacher candidates are awarded Latin honors at graduation compared with that of their non-teacher candidate peers on the same campus. 

Program leaders have suggested that we take a more nuanced approach to evaluating student teaching -- particularly the number of observations with feedback that student teachers are given by university supervisors.  Previously, the standard only awarded credit to programs that provide five or more observations (a number supported by solid research). It now awards partial credit to programs requiring four observations. Also, on the basis of the characteristics that are considered, the standard will now distinguish among programs that take an active role in cooperating teacher selection: while partial credit is available for playing an active role, only programs that seek information on nominated teachers relating to their mentoring skills and effectiveness will receive full credit. 

Also based on feedback, we've added a new criterion by which a program can satisfy the Selection Criteria Standard: both graduate and undergraduate programs can now do so by providing evidence that the most recent class of teacher candidates had a certified average GPA of 3.3 or higher upon entry. As before, programs can also meet the standard if they set their selection criteria in such a way as to draw the top half of the college-going population.

In addition, we've updated the indicators of the Classroom Management Standard to include whether programs provide feedback on student teachers' ability to "maintain engagement" and "recognize appropriate behavior through praise." With these additions, the standard now incorporates the "Big Five" classroom management techniques most strongly supported by research, all identified and discussed in a recent NCTQ report.

A complete set of standards and indicators for TPR 2014 is now posted on our website.