Teaching was once dubbed "the profession that eats its young" and many educators liken their first few years in the classroom to a hazing ritual. The result is an industry that hemorrhages new teachers nearly as fast as it can license them.
One factor feeding the high turnover rate is lack of preparation, according to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a national union representing 1.5 million educators.
"Newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms … and left to see if they (and their students) sink or swim," she wrote in a December 2012 report for the AFT. The report called for higher standards and accountability in teacher training programs.
The 2013 NCTQ Teacher Prep Ratings, released today by U.S. News, are a step in that direction.
[Read U.S. News Editor Brian Kelly's opinion on the NCTQ ratings.]
Part of a broader effort by the National Council on Teacher Quality, the ratings are a subset of the NCTQ Teacher Prep Review, published today by the nonprofit educational research and advocacy group. The review is a 2.5-year effort to gauge the quality of the bachelor's and master's degree tracks required to enter the teaching profession.
Unlike the Best Graduate Education Programs ranking produced annually by U.S. News - which uses a detailed methodology that only examines Ph.D. programs and the research output of graduate education schools – NCTQ's ratings evaluated 1,200 teacher preparation programs at 608 schools on key standards designated by the research group.
For undergrad and graduate programs training elementary education teachers, those standards included admissions selection criteria, student teaching programs and early reading and elementary math curricula, as well as curricula focused on areas such as history and science.
Those training secondary education teachers were also evaluated on admissions selectivity and student teaching, as well as high school curricula, and middle school content when applicable. NCTQ included additional standards in its larger review, which were not included in the ratings published by U.S. News.
Curricula at all levels were judged on whether they successfully prepare teachers for the Common Core State Standards. Adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, the standards call for teachers to cover less content, but require them to delve deeper into areas deemed crucial for student development and eventual college and career readiness.
NCTQ used course requirements, syllabi, employer surveys and detailed student-teaching contracts, among other documents, to score undergraduate and graduate teaching preparation programs on each of these standards. It then assigned an overall program rating on a scale of 0 to 4 stars, four being the highest.
[Find out how NCTQ calculated the teacher prep ratings.]
Among undergrad programs training secondary school teachers, Furman University in South Carolina earned four stars, as did Lipscomb University in Tennessee.
Twelve other programs – including Clemson University in South Carolina, the University of Iowa, the University of Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State University – earned 3.5 stars.
Ohio State University was the only graduate school to earn four stars for its secondary education program.
Clayton State University in Georgia, Kean University in New Jersey, the University of California—San Diego, University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill and the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee all earned 3.5 stars for graduate programs designed to train future high school teachers.
None of the undergrad or grad programs focused on elementary education earned a four-star rating, but Ohio State's M.Ed. in early childhood education came close with 3.5 stars.
Stay up to date on secondary education trends with the U.S. News High School Notes blog.