TQB: Teacher Quality Bulletin

NCTQ’s Teacher Prep Review Paints a Landscape of Undergraduate Elementary Teacher Preparation

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Today, NCTQ is excited to share the latest results in our ongoing analysis of teacher prep programs, this time focusing on what we've learned from 875 undergraduate elementary programs.This is our first set of grades since 2014, and our research discovered that programs have made some gains. We're far from out of the woods, but at least we can see a bit of light through the trees.

The top undergraduate elementary programs in 2016 (all scoring in the 99th percentile) are:
Purdue University (IN)
Louisiana Tech University (LA)
Texas A&M University (TX)
Taylor University (IN)
University of Alaska Fairbanks (AK)
CUNY - Hunter College (NY)
University of Houston (TX)
Arizona State University (AZ)
University of Arkansas (AR)
University of Mississippi (MS)
University of Nebraska - Lincoln (NE)

Unlike previous Reviews which grouped together all different types of teacher prep programs at once--publishing data on over 2,400 programs!--this report is smaller in scope, looking only at undergraduate programs preparing elementary school teachers. (We'll cover the other kinds of programs in future reports, each spread out by about six months, with the next one on undergraduate secondary due out in Spring 2017.) For more information on changes, see our Profile, one in a series of short blogs about different aspects of teacher prep and the TPR.

We are pleased to report some genuine overall progress by programs on the evidence-based criteria we examine. The big news is that more programs are adhering to evidence when teaching elementary teachers how to teach reading. In 2016, 39 percent of programs teach evidence-based approaches to early reading, up from 29 percent in 2014.

While most programs are still not selective enough (with only 26 percent limiting selection to the top half of college-goers), there was some progress. More programs that are housed in institutions lacking strong admissions requirements have stepped up, setting their own relatively high admissions standards (at least a 3.0 GPA for admission)--up from 44 in 2014 to 71 today.

Importantly, half of these selective programs are also relatively diverse when compared to the institution as a whole or to the state's teacher workforce. These 113 programs demonstrate that teacher prep programs can be both diverse and selective.

Unfortunately, in light of the recent PISA results, the news on mathematics preparation is gloomy. Just 13 percent of programs cover the essential math that other nations expect their elementary teachers to have mastered.

The findings are even worse on content preparation--which is so important for states that have adopted the Common Core or similar standards--with just 5 percent of programs requiring aspiring teachers to be exposed to the literature, history, geography, and science found in the elementary curriculum.

For more information see our Landscape report and our Teacher Prep Review website.

This report not only will help principals and human resource officers looking for where to find teachers with excellent training, high school guidance counselors will also find it helpful in advising students interested in becoming teachers to the best programs. It will help guide teacher prep programs in their own efforts to do better, and we hope it will inspire university officials to upgrade the quality of their teacher prep programs and even lead states to reconsider the oversight they provide.

We urge our readers to share this report with university officials and teacher prep leaders, encouraging them to use this as a blueprint for change. Districts also can use their leverage by recruiting first at top rated programs, giving their graduates first pick of jobs, and insisting that the programs make reforms if they want to continue to send their student teachers to the district. State officials can recommend that programs voluntarily adopt more research-proven methods and content or risk more mandates from above.

Thank you for joining us in our efforts to raise the quality of teacher prep programs so that all children can be taught by more effective teachers.