National Council on Teacher Quality. (2020). University of Alabama Graduate Elementary. Teacher Prep Review. [Data set]. https://www.nctq.org/review/viewProgram/University-of-Alabama-AL-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 only partly meets the standard because while it requires that candidates provide a score on one of the standardized tests of proficiency commonly used in higher education for graduate admission, it does not ensure that they have the requisite academic talent by requiring that their grade point averages (GPA) be high, or by demonstrating that the average GPA for the incoming class of teacher candidates is high.
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: 10 percent candidates of color2
- Alabama teacher workforce: 20 percent teachers of color3
- Local demographics: 40 percent persons of color4
University of Alabama is found to be 10.7 percentage points less diverse than the Alabama teacher workforce and 30.1 percentage points less diverse than the local population.
Courses reviewed: CEE 570
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
In order for elementary schools to deliver equitable and effective instruction in mathematics to all students, they need their teachers to have acquired the mathematics content and pedagogical knowledge specified in commonly accepted mathematics education standards. To evaluate that coverage, the Elementary Mathematics standard examines the instructional time allocated to each of the five essential topics in coursework required by teacher preparation programs.
To assess performance under this standard, the distribution of instructional time is estimated using syllabi and course descriptions. Only courses that provide content and pedagogical knowledge related to elementary mathematics are considered.
A review of CEE 582 found the following coverage:
Numbers & Operations: 0 instructional hours*
Recommended target: 45 hours
Algebraic Thinking: 0 instructional hours*
Recommended target: 20 hours
Geometry & Measurement: 0 instructional hours
Recommended target: 25 hours
Data Analysis & Probability: 0 instructional hours
Recommended target: 15 hours
Mathematics Pedagogy: 45 instructional hours
Recommended target: 45 hours
*Please note that for grading purposes, the hours for Numbers & Operations and Algebraic Thinking are summed and measured against a combined target of 65 hours. Under this measure, 0 instructional hours were found.
Programs earning an F do not provide enough of the content and pedagogical knowledge elementary teachers require for effective mathematics instruction. Programs earn this grade by allocating fewer than 90 hours (out of the 150 target hours) to the five essential topic areas combined, less than 60% of the total target recommendation.
Analysis of the required coursework for elementary teacher candidates at University of Alabama found the program to address 30.0% of the total target recommendation.
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 the minimum number of times that supervisors must provide student teachers with written feedback based on observations has not been clearly communicated to all parties involved in student teaching.
- Analysis finds that this program does not collect substantive information on cooperating teachers' skills.
- 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.
- Require program supervisors to observe student teachers at least four times during the final semester of clinical experiences and provide written feedback after each observation. Research finds that when student teachers are observed at least five times by university supervisors over the course of the student teaching placement, they are more effective when they have classrooms of their own. While feedback from cooperating teachers is also valuable, no research of comparable strength defines the ideal quantity of feedback from cooperating teachers.
- 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 do not include that cooperating teachers must be strong mentors or effective instructors as defined by student learning.
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:
- Learning Time (manage time; manage materials; manage student engagement)
Consider modifying evaluation and observation instruments to provide participants with feedback on their use of the following strategies:
- Rules and Routines
- Learning Time (manage the physical classroom)
- Low-profile Redirection