I got an email this week from a proud dad who was trying to help his daughter choose the right graduate school of education. His daughter had gotten into two institutions which are popularly assumed to be the best of the best. She wanted to know which program would do the best job teaching her how to teach reading. So we ran an interesting comparison of two different rankings: the top 10 programs ranked high on US News & World Report's traditional graduate school of education rankings, which depend largely on reputations, and our own rankings, the NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review, and also published by US News.
Here's how the Top Ten Elites according to US News scored on NCTQ's early reading standard, with zero being the lowest score and 4 the highest:
1. Johns Hopkins: 3
2. Vanderbilt :4
3. Harvard: they don't have an elementary program
4. Stanford : 0
5. UPenn: 0
5. University of Wisconsin:1
7. University of Washington: 3
8. Teachers College - Columbia - Not Yet Rated
8. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor: 0
10. U T Austin : 4
Only two of these ten elite programs, UT Austin and Vanderbilt expose their teacher candidates to what they should know about effective reading instruction (though it remains to be seen about Teacher's College--they wouldn't turn over their course materials to us.) Remarkably, there are more programs in this elite 10 that earned a 0 than earned the top mark of four.
An elementary teacher's most important job is undoubtedly to teach her students to read. This nation faces a reading crisis, with one out of three children never really learning how to read. It's doubly tragic in that the rate of failure could be reduced to one out of ten children, if they were taught using scientifically based reading methods.