With the start of the new school year, NCTQ has three new reports out rating core features of all of the education schools in three western states: New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The reports look at three areas of elementary teacher preparation: 1) admissions and exit standards; 2) reading instruction; and 3) elementary mathematics.
On the reading and math fronts, few schools stand out. The University of New Mexico, the University of Utah and Western Governors University were the only programs providing solid preparation in both areas.
These studies mark NCTQ's debut of a new set of ratings in which we examine what it takes to get into an education school in these states and what it takes to get out. In particular, we focus attention on admission standards that rely on "basic skills" tests designed to tell only how academically proficient prospective teachers are relative to each other. Given that most prospective teachers are at the academic bottom of the barrel by all measures when compared to the academic performance of all college students, we argue that these siloed comparisons do not serve the purpose of selecting for true proficiency and should be abandoned. We recommend that tests of academic proficiency that compare prospective teachers to all of the apples in the barrel--meaning all college students--and that select for those who score in the upper half should be substituted.