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NCTQ Offers Mixed Reviews of Undergraduate Secondary Teacher Prep

Today, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released the second installment of its now-segmented Teacher Prep Review, this time grading undergraduate programs preparing secondary teachers based on a document review of their admission standards, content requirements, and field experiences.

Out of the 717 programs reviewed across the country, the new report says “adequate” content knowledge requirements are in place in approximately 81% of programs for candidates in the sciences and in 65% of social studies programs, while nearly all programs provide adequate preparation for English and math teachers. About three quarters of the evaluated programs require subject-specific methods courses, and less than half of those require student teaching in connection with that course work.

Like previous NCTQ reports, the utility of “Landscapes in Teacher Prep: Undergraduate Secondary” is hampered by the organization’s methodology. Teacher Prep Review findings and recommendations continue to be founded on limited data gleaned from reviews of policies and procedures but not what actually occurs in programs. The new report also perpetuates unproven assumptions undergirding previous NCTQ work, such as that preparation programs must lead the determination of who is qualified to serve as a cooperating teacher for field assignments, and that candidates’ SAT/ACT scores and grade-point averages are a meaningful predictor of their effectiveness as teachers.

Despite these shortcomings, NCTQ continues to recommend that school districts use its reports as a tool to determine which educator preparation programs they should partner with, recruit new teachers from, and steer students interested in becoming educators. To help AACTE members inform their communities about their actual programs and to bring more transparency to the Review, AACTE has developed a members-only “Institutional Response Kit” as well as other resources and information related to NCTQ on our website.

NCTQ plans to release the next installment of the Review in fall 2017 with a focus on graduate and nontraditional (alternative-route) elementary programs.

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Zachary VanHouten

Manager of Programs and Advocacy, AACTE