National Council on Teacher Quality. (2020). Northwestern State University: Practitioner Teacher Program Graduate Elementary. Teacher Prep Review. [Data set]. https://www.nctq.org/review/viewProgram/Northwestern-State-University:-Practitioner-Teacher-Program--LA-2
Selection criteria for admission into the program partly satisfy this standard. The mean grade point average is sufficiently high to demonstrate that candidates have the requisite academic talent, however without an audition process the program does not have a means of assessing non-academic talents also important for teaching.
A diverse teacher workforce benefits all students, particularly students of color. While there has been real progress over the last twenty years in diversifying the teacher workforce,1 these gains have not kept pace with a rapidly diversifying student population. To accelerate progress, strategic recruitment efforts by teacher preparation programs are essential.
- Teacher prep enrollment: 21 percent candidates of color1
- Louisiana teacher workforce: 28 percent teachers of color2
- Local demographics: 47 percent persons of color3
The program ensures that prior to becoming the teacher of record candidates
- complete at least one course that covers the five essential components of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies.
- pass a rigorous standardized test on reading instruction.
Supervised practice serves a critical role in all teacher preparation programs. Whether supervised practice takes the form of student teaching, residency or internship, the experience allows participants to build on coursework by practicing and refining essential instructional and management skills.
Ideally, supervised practice includes time spent in the classroom of an experienced teacher who serves as a model of outstanding teaching and can provide ongoing coaching, feedback, and guidance. This experience should be at least 10 weeks long in order to offer opportunities for repeated cycles of practice and growth. In addition, it should be full- or nearly-full-time, and include several weeks during which the candidate has primary responsibility for teaching the whole class for full days, so that the candidate can experience the full demands of being a teacher.
- Our review finds that program participants do not spend time in a mentor teacher's classroom on a full-or nearly-full-time basis.
1. Require supervisors to provide each participant with at least five instances of written feedback based on observations during the program's capstone clinical experience (student teaching or residency) or – for participants in alternative programs who do not have such experiences – the critical first few months of school.
- A review of program policy finds that supervisors are required to provide a minimum of 4 instances of written feedback based on observations during these key periods.
- Analysis finds that this program does not collect substantive information on mentor teachers' skills.
- Incorporate a student teaching or residency experience of at least ten weeks into the program. This experience should be full-time or nearly so.
- Require program supervisors to observe teacher candidates at least five times during key clinical experiences (student teaching, residency or - for programs without such experiences — the first few months of school) and provide written feedback after each observation. Research finds that when candidates are observed at least five times by university supervisors over the course of a student teaching placement, they are more effective when they have classrooms of their own. While feedback from mentor teachers is also valuable, no research of comparable strength defines the ideal quantity of feedback from mentor teachers.
- To ensure candidates are placed with the best, establish an explicit process with partner districts to gather information on potential mentor teachers' skills including both their effectiveness (as measured by student achievement) and capacity to mentor. Collecting additional information, such as a teacher's classroom management style or communication skills, can also be valuable, as long as the focus remains on quality and the potential fit as a mentor and not on just collecting basic data, like years of experience. This information should be used to screen mentor teachers' suitability before placing student teachers with them.
New teachers and their principals consistently report that classroom management is one of their greatest challenges. Teachers will be better prepared to establish a positive classroom environment if, during their preparation programs, they practice and receive feedback on the five classroom management strategies shown by conclusive research to be useful for all students. These strategies are:
- Rules and Routines – Establishing classroom rules and routines that set expectations for behavior;
- Learning Time – Maximizing the time that students are engaged in learning by pacing lessons appropriately, managing class materials and the physical setup of the classroom, and teaching interesting lessons;
- Praise – Using meaningful praise and other forms of positive reinforcement to encourage appropriate behavior;
- Low-profile Redirection – Using unobtrusive means that do not interrupt instruction to prevent and manage minimally disruptive behavior; and
- Consequences – Addressing more serious misbehavior with consistent, appropriate consequences.
A review of program evaluation and/or observation instruments finds that they provide feedback on student teachers' use of the following classroom management strategies:
- Rules and Routines
- Learning Time
- Low-profile Redirection
Repeated feedback on the same or similar indicators can provide program participants invaluable guidance as they strengthen their classroom management skills. Consider examining all observation and evaluation forms used by program supervisors, cooperating teachers, and any other individuals who evaluate program participants to check that they provide repeated, consistent feedback on classroom management, and modifying them if necessary.