National Council on Teacher Quality. (2020). Union University Graduate Elementary. Teacher Prep Review. [Data set]. https://www.nctq.org/review/viewProgram/Union-University-TN-2
The standards for admission into either the institution or its teacher preparation program should be sufficiently selective to ensure that teacher candidates come from only the top half of the college-going population. In order to ensure that any test used as a screen is able to provide sufficient selectivity, it must be normed to the college-going population.
The program does not meet the standard because it does not exploit the potential for admission requirements (grade point averages, standardized tests commonly used for graduate admission and/or auditions) to provide assurance that teacher candidates have the requisite academic talent.
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: 7 percent candidates of color2
- Tennessee teacher workforce: 17 percent teachers of color3
- Local demographics: 38 percent persons of color4
Union University is found to be 10.1 percentage points less diverse than the Tennessee teacher workforce and 30.8 percentage points less diverse than the local population.
Courses reviewed: EDU 556
The research-based content proven to be necessary for teaching all children to read should be clearly evident in course materials such as lecture topics, assignments and textbooks. All of a program's required reading courses — not just some courses — should impart what is necessary to teach reading.
The program partly meets the standard because its coursework covers three of the five of the components of effective reading instruction:
- Comprehension Strategies
- Phonemic Awareness
Student teaching serves a critical role in preparing teacher candidates to take the reins of their own classroom. This apprenticeship allows candidates to build on coursework by learning directly from an established teacher, and practice and refine essential instructional and management skills.
Student teaching should be at least 10 weeks long in order to offer opportunities for repeated cycles of practice and growth. 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 the program includes at least 10 weeks of full- or nearly-full-time student teaching, but does not require candidates to take primary responsibility for a classroom for at least three weeks.
1. Supply student teachers with sufficient feedback by requiring supervisors to provide student teachers with at least four instances of written feedback based on observations.
- A review of program policy finds that supervisors are required to provide a minimum of 8 instances of written feedback based on observations.
- Analysis finds that this program collects information on cooperating teachers' skills, including their ability as a mentor, but not their instructional effectiveness as measured by student learning.
- Ensure that the student teaching experience includes at least three weeks when the candidate takes primary responsibility for planning and presenting instruction for full days.
- To ensure candidates are placed with the best, establish an explicit process with partner districts to gather information on potential cooperating 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 cooperating teachers' suitability before placing student teachers with them.
- Clear requirements for cooperating teachers can help to guide the cooperating teacher selection process. At a minimum, cooperating teachers should be both strong mentors of adults and highly effective instructors. Our review finds that program requirements include that cooperating teachers must be effective instructors as defined by student learning, but do not address mentorship skill.
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.