Friday, June 20, 2014

Study: Teacher prep weak but improving

Teacher prep programs at UNC Chapel Hill,  UNC Wilmington and Elon University earned high marks in a new national study by the National Council on Teacher Quality,  but the group says most universities in North Carolina and the nation have a long way to go.

"Far more needs to be done to expand the pool of teachers properly prepared to meet the challenges of the contemporary American classroom," the report says.  "Still, an upsurge in quality has begun. It is good news indeed to be able to report some movement, however spotty, given the many attempts to improve teacher preparation that never even got off the ground."

The council rated more than 1,600 teacher prep programs on selectivity,  student teaching programs and instruction in early reading,  classroom management and content.  N.C. schools outperformed the national average on selectivity but fell short on most other measures  (read the state report here).

UNC Chapel Hill got the state's best rating,  ranked 17th in the nation for its graduate program in secondary education.  Elon's undergraduate elementary education program ranked 22nd,  and UNC Wilmington's graduate program in secondary education was 37th.

Just across the state line,  South Carolina's Winthrop University was ranked 27th in the nation for undergraduate elementary and 147th for graduate secondary.

Other schools in the Charlotte area didn't fare as well.  UNC Charlotte was ranked No. 101 for graduate elementary, 221 for graduate secondary and 260 for undergraduate elementary.  Queens University's graduate program landed in the bottom half,  which meant it didn't receive a rank.  Belmont Abbey College,  Wingate University and Pfeiffer University are listed as not having provided the requested information.

The council is a reform advocacy group funded by Gates,  Broad,  Carnegie,  Walton and most of the other big names in education philanthropy (including the Charlotte-based Belk Foundation).  N.C. Superintendent June Atkinson,  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Heath Morrison and former CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman,  now an executive with the private ed-tech firm Amplify,  are listed as supporters of the N.C. report.

This year's report also rates a sampling of alternative certification programs.  "Alternative certification programs provide on-the-job training to teacher candidates. Candidates are placed in internship before obtaining initial certification and serve as teachers of record who are fully responsible for the students in their classrooms,"  the report says.  The results,  it concludes,  were "even weaker than for traditional programs.  NCTQ found their admissions standards to be too low,  efforts to assess subject matter knowledge inadequate,  and too little training or support provided to candidates who are asked to hit the ground running in the classroom."

Teach For America is probably the best known of these programs,  but North Carolina's TFA wasn't among the sample rated. TFA in Massachusetts was the only alternative provider to earn high marks from the council,  while other TFA's sampled landed low ratings  --  along with South Carolina's PACE program and four Regional Alternative Licensing Centers in North Carolina.

The council hopes the rankings will be used by prospective students choosing schools, districts crafting recruitment strategies and government policymakers setting standards. Its conclusions are harsh on both the  "bloated"  traditional university approach and the alternatives that have popped up.

"In our view, the only reason not to pull the plug on the experiment of alternative certification is that traditional teacher preparation continues to have persistent flaws,"  the report concludes.  "Were traditional preparation to add the value that it should,  teachers produced by alternate routes would never be competitive for jobs anywhere.  As long as traditional teacher preparation continues to be so generally substandard,  we recognize the need for,  indeed the value of,  limited, well-regulated alternative certification programs whose outcomes are monitored and made public." 


Anonymous said...

1. Look at the sources of funding, the usual
2. Who reaps the rewards? For profits? Go figure.
3. Why would anyone go to school to be a teacher
in the US with the hostile environment?
4. UNCC's program was mediocre forty years ago,
some things never change.
5. Teaching universities don't have the luxury of
quality applicants.
6. At least the people who funded TFA have been
called out on their failed on the job, on the fly
7. JCSU just announced closing their Education
8. There are few Americans that even care

Unknown said...


CMS used to have a good understanding of which colleges were graduating undesirable new teachers.

Not long ago I watched a PowerPoint presentation by the CMS HR Department. The key feature was a map of teacher colleges. The schools were coded in a way that said, “we won’t go there for recruiting.”…or something like that. However, a lot has changed since then.

The biggest change is colleges are shutting down the teacher programs. Johnson C. Smith University made an announcement about that this year. I don’t know JCSU’s reasons but others are shutting down because there aren’t enough freshmen selecting teaching as a career.

What NC parents in their right mindS would pay for their children to enter college for a public education teaching degree? Six or ten years ago that wasn’t such a bad choice. Today, as one CMS executive told me, “No way Jose’!”

This is a shame. The desire to be a teacher is akin to a drug addiction. Some want to be a teacher so badly they are willing to risk their future financial security. Right now teaching is like cocaine. It gives the person a great high while at the same time destroying her life.

This will all change…someday…maybe. But it is comforting that CMS is already following the report’s number one recommendation for school districts…

“…Accept student teachers only from institutions that are committed to preparing their candidates for the classroom not only because they select academically talented applicants, but also because they provide high quality training before student teaching.”

Bolyn McClung

Shamash said...

"As long as traditional teacher preparation continues to be so generally substandard..."

As if anything will change.

This is simply too little, too late. We've had our run and now it's time for new world leadership.

Just as the sun finally set on the British Empire, so it will on ours.

At least some of our universities are top-notch. Even if they are educating a LOT of foreigners.

Oddly, though, most of those students DO NOT opt for our "education" degrees.

I think they know value when they see it.

3 Charts Show That China's Scientific Dominance Over The US Is A Done Deal

It's OK, though.

At least our kids will be well rested with their new bell schedules.

Perhaps we should add Mandarin to our standard studies.

Drop Spanish.

Would you rather be able to communicate with your gardener or your boss?

Can't say we didn't have a good run, though.

Wiley Coyote said...


I will pass along your comment and those of CMS to my son's girlfriend who is a year away from graduating college to teach.

She is very smart and could do other things but being a teacher is what she wants to do. She certainly isn't addicted to becoming a teacher like the drug addicts you compared her to, but knowing her, she will be an excellent teacher.

I find it comical to be talking about so called great teacher education programs and only hiring from say the top ten. Yet these same teachers are put into LEAs like CMS that give students a 50 for just putting their name on a paper or passing them along and God forbid they are held back if they aren't performing on grade level or pass a mandated state test.

Bolyn, you did hit at the heart of the argument in which it all boils down to money. The desire to be a teacher in your mind should be about the money and not the love of kids or wanting to teach.

By the way. Touting UNC's WONDERFUL teacher education program holds about as much credibility of the university itself and their athletic and African American studies program's winning at all cost mentality.

Anonymous said...

Who the hell would want to teach... I find it funny TFA was unsuccessful.

Anonymous said...

If CMS and other counties will hire TFAs and others with no training then why is this an issue? It used to be lateral entry was a rarity now it is the norm. Either have standards or don't, make up your mind.

Anonymous said...

China will never be above us. Those people aren't meant to lead. Followers by nature. They are forever steeling our technology and ideas.

Anonymous said...

I don't think NC can be picky!! This state is loosing teachers.

Anonymous said...

Another garbage "study" from a corparate-based oraganization seeking to profit off thebacks of taxpayers. This study didn't include any visits to these colleges; they were only looking for things that benefit them such as CC-based curriculum or use of their computer software. It's like rating a restaurant by only looking at the menu. These edu-philanthropists have taken over K-12 education and now they are looking to take over our university systems.

Anonymous said...

According to the study TFA is a bust..

Shamash said...

"China will never be above us. Those people aren't meant to lead. Followers by nature. They are forever steeling our technology and ideas. "

Yeah, just keep thinking that.

Nothing to see there, just move along...

Bill Thierfelder said...

Belmont Abbey College has an excellent Education Department. The department has the reputation of graduating excellent teachers who are highly sought after teaching professionals. Because of the faith and reason approach to learning, they also tend to be extraordinary people who are dedicated and committed to sacrificing for their students. God bless!

Anonymous said...

Followers, sorry predictive text

Anonymous said...

This study is awful. It's a joke. TFA, some are good, some are bad. Nobody goes into teaching for the money. NC needs to increase its pay. It's too low and embarrassing. Teachers have bills and student loans.

Anonymous said...

There are two things that really bother me about the U.S. compared to other advanced countries: the lack of respect for education and the non-selective process of people who go to college to get an education degree. Only the best and brightest should go into education and the colleges should demand it....but wait, why would someone go into teaching if they have brains to go work for Google as a programmer? PAY! This country better step up. As soon as you give teachers a great pay, only take the best in the college programs, maybe the respect for education will follow.

It just reminds me of my last time going into Walmart. In the front row of the kids clothing section was a T-Shirt that said "School Sucks!", only in America would someone buy a T-shirt that says that. I will never step inside Walmart ever again due to that statement right there, made me nauseated the impact that one T-Shirt had.

Take back our schools said...

9:57, you are right. UNC-Asheville had a superb elem education program but it worked on a little different model. They have lost some very talented folks due to these pressures.

Anonymous said...

NC is sort of in a unique place where the educrats, community organizers, the mass media, et. al. have convinced the everyone that the teachers are the root of the problem. They refuse to acknowledge the urban culture with its lack upbringing have created this generation of children unable to function in a civilized society.

I say NC is in a unigque position because educrats, judges and the legislature have been throwing money at the problem hoping to solve unlike most other states. 70% of what is thrown at these children just goes down the drain like an evening thunderstorm. SO worse off, these parties then believe the teachers are the root of the problem but a few in the legislature are onto that we locals have lost ocntrol of our schools due to the federal government. And so where we as a society haev lsot if that we are not putting our resources into the children who have the best cahnce of saving our society and our way of life.

Anonymous said...

While other countries demand only the best and brightest go into teaching (and most likely demand a masters or even a PhD) we are contemplating a "certificate" in teaching or basically a 2 year degree. Horrible for our country.

Just as in nursing, most two year programs are going away and most well respected hospitals only hire those with a bachelors in nursing. Why? Because of the type of brain a person must have in order to spend 4 years in college, the molding that occurs, the advances in technology and medicine that can't be taught in 2 years. Same must be imposed on teachers. But if you pay them well, you will bring in the best, brightest and well rounded person, who knows that the more time spent in college the more you will learn and master the art of teaching the next generation. Bye are the days of learning and teaching the 3 R's, but the next generation will need to learn mind blowing information to bring this country forward. How is a teacher going to master this art in 2 years?

It is because of a teacher shortage, because of the pay. That is why a two year degree in nursing came about, (away from the 3 year) because nurses did not make enough, no one was going into nursing and there was a huge shortage. Now nurses make good money, it is more difficult to get into nursing school, the shortage is going away and hospitals are demanding 4 year degrees. Because pay went up, more people went into the profession, only the best and brightest get into the school.

Anonymous said...

BINGO TO anon 12:39!

You hit the nail on the head with this statement!

"They refuse to acknowledge the urban culture with its lack upbringing have created this generation of children unable to function in a civilized society."

I agree, the culture surrounding so called "failing schools" is the root of the problem, not the school!

I attended CMS schools back in the 80's, all the way to through my Jr. year. Even then I could see the difference in the culture in school and between other schools. Poor black kids were not engaged in school and from the looks of it now, they still aren't. We can all tap dance around it on this blog, but it is what it is.

like Shamash has pointed out on many occasions, poverty is not really the issue, it's the culture!

blaming the schools and teachers has to stop before we can start to make a positive change!

Lisa said...

I don't think there is a clear understanding of what a teaching "certificate" is. I have an undergraduate degree in History. I went back to school and have earned a Graduate Certification in Elementary Education- a course of study that normally takes graduate students about two years. I only need to complete four more courses to earn my masters degree. A certificate is not substandard to those earning four year undergraduate degrees in any way. In fact, I think that if I were an administrator, I would prefer a new teacher candidate with an undergraduate degree and another two years of schooling in pedagogy over 22 year olds fresh out of their teaching programs.

gwalkerruns said...

Just a reminder to everyone. NC is 48th in teacher pay, 50th in per pupil expenditures while being nowhere near those numbers in tax load. Where is the money going?

Anonymous said...

I have seen very bright people run out of classroom's crying. I have seen successful business people looking for a change, go to their car to get something and never come back. Teaching truly is a blend of content knowledge and a person's ability to convey it to others. Look at the TFA study. They are a mix off good, ok and bad. When you look at Norway, Sweden or other European countries, you need to remember one thing. The overall importance their society puts on education. Parents, business leaders, politicians are all in. Asian countries do not require the best and brightest to become teachers. I have had many friends whom taught in China and Korea. Teachers are respected but the responsibility for learning is put on the child. 12:39,I believe your on to something. Many older Americans I talk with praise the one school room house. A teacher and students.. I think to many hands are in the education pot. It needs to go back to being about the students and teachers.

Anonymous said...

China will not overcome the United States. I said it in the 80's about Japan and I will say it now about China. Freedom will always win out. I am more concerned about the break down of the American family then I am about China. NC give your teachers a living wage and you will be able to attract and keep more teachers. Good weather and a strong economy is a plus but everybody has to pay bills.

Anonymous said...

gwalerruns, Medicaid. NC has the second highest Medicaid burden per taxpayer in the country.

Anonymous said...

"Best and Brightest"

CMeS spends tens of thousands going to other states begging teachers to come here. The "best and brightest" dont want to teach in CMeS and are leaving in droves.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they fix the Medicaid issue and stop bashing teachers. I voted for half those clowns and was shocked by last summers legislation (as it pertained to education). Why the hell is our Medicaid bill so high? Give teachers their old salaries back and stop giving our tax dollars to people sitting at home doing nothing. My children go to good schools. They will not be good schools if the teachers keep leaving. They are voting with their feet. My sons principal is concerned with the teachers that Will get jobs over summer. How can they plan. This whole picking the best nonsense is crap. Some schools are just trying to put someone in the classroom. Who can blame teachers. Seven years of limbo and then they start getting attacked by their state representative's. As if they where the enemy. We in the middle class do not get vouchers. We pay lots of money on mortgages and taxes. This is so we can live in nice neighborhoods with good schools. I did not send the Republicans to Raleigh to destroy my children's school. The vouchers and charters are not for my family. I like my children's school. Enough!!!! Figure it out!!! Every state in the United States of American has a pay plan for teachers. Most of them have great healthcare benefits. Teachers in my children's school are not going to wait for anymore studies or panels. Bev Purdue and Gorman burned that bridge. Figure it out!!

Anonymous said...

I hold a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Massachusetts being the latest holy grail in K-12 public education. This July, all prospective NC teachers will be required to pass the MTEL (Massachusetts Teacher Education Licensure) test in place of the Praxis 2 - keeping in mind that MA has one of the highest teacher salaries in the U.S. compared to NC which ranks at the bottom. Massachusetts also has one of the highest percentages of residents with college degrees.

I also hold a B.A. in Elementary Education from Belmont Abbey College. "Not having provided the requested information" is not an acceptable excuse for a program that I believe aims and succeeds in preparing teachers to successfully lead today's classrooms. An education department that isn't willing or able to operate in a transparent way looses credibility.

My son is a rising senior at Elon University. Kudos to this school for it's teacher training program that appears to be leading the way.


Anonymous said...

Would segregation of the studens cause a better outcome.

Are things any better after LBJ.

Where has the trillions gone to not produce any better results.

No more excuses or blame.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of licensing, when did NC stop recognizing licensure from other states? As a teacher actually looking to move BACK to NC, I was just told by NCDPI that just because I was licensed in a subject in TN, I wouldn't automatically be licensed by NC. MOST STATES do have a direct exchange. As a professional educator, I find it absurd that NC hires so many completely unlicensed TFA folks w/ no intent to stay in Education, but a professional w/ 10+ years of experience might have to take another $180 praxis test?