District Trendline

Want teachers who are ready on day one? Here's where to look!

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As school districts plan for the coming school year, many are already considering where to recruit a fresh crop of new teachers - teachers eager to put everything they've learned from preparation into practice.

Unfortunately, not all programs offer the same quality of training. That's why NCTQ regularly releases the Teacher Prep Review, a study that rates teacher preparation program quality based on critical standards around admissions, knowledge, and clinical practice.

These new rankings of teacher prep programs, released just a few weeks ago, confirm what you already know: the quality of training that new teachers possess varies quite a lot. While all new teachers will learn much more on the job, they need to come equipped with the basics. As the superintendent of San Diego Unified School District, Cindy Marten, noted at the release of the latest NAEP results, "our teachers need to enter on day one with a baseline knowledge of how to teach literacy and math."

We take a closer look here at the training that aspiring elementary teachers receive in these two essential functions of their job: teaching children reading and mathematics.

  • Early reading: Overall, 35 percent of programs prepare teachers to teach reading. Undergraduate programs are more likely to provide strong training in early literacy instruction using research-based methods than graduate programs, but many still fall short.

  • Elementary mathematics: It's harder to find a program steeping aspiring teachers in the math they'll be teaching - but nearly every state (43, to be exact) has at least one program getting elementary math training mostly right. Across all programs, 24 percent are providing strong preparation in elementary mathematics. Alternative route programs perform better than other types of prep programs, largely because most of them require applicants to demonstrate their math knowledge on a test before they are admitted to the program.

How can you find out whether the programs you recruit from are training their teacher candidates in these essentials (and in other critical areas like classroom management)? NCTQ offers a tool to help you find great programs. The Teacher Prep Review ranks thousands of prep programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and alternative route programs training elementary and secondary teachers.

Visit https://www.nctq.org/review/home and scroll to the bottom of the page, where you can:

  1. Search for an institution by name
  2. Search for all the programs in your state or in other states nearby
  3. Search for the best programs in a category (e.g., undergraduate elementary programs)

You'll see programs organized by their overall ranking; click on the program to see how it stacks up in specific areas.

You can look for programs that are strong overall (based on the research-backed components of what great teacher training needs to include), or look for programs that offer strong training in an area your district is focused on (like early reading or classroom management).

Want to talk more about how to use these data to target your new teacher recruitment? Contact Hannah Putman, NCTQ's Director of Research, at hputman@nctq.org.