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New NCTQ Review Offers Mixed Feedback on Graduate Teacher Prep, Alternative Routes

To keep members informed, AACTE regularly monitors and reports on the activity of the National Council on Teacher Quality that could affect educator preparation programs. Visit our NCTQ resource page for additional information.

In the latest iteration of its Teacher Prep Review, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) asserts that graduate teacher preparation programs and alternative-route programs are facing some “severe structural problems” with what the council deems to be necessary fundamental elements of a successful teacher preparation program.

In evaluating graduate and alternative preparation programs for the Review, NCTQ assessed three broad areas: admissions requirements, student teaching, and content knowledge.

For admissions, the report says graduate programs do not have a robust enough process – stating in particular that graduate programs do a poor job of screening applicants for their content knowledge prior to admission to the program. NCTQ commends alternative providers for doing a better job with this task, noting that teacher candidates in those programs generally must pass a licensure test before being admitted to those programs.

The report also criticizes preparation programs for inadequate screening of mentor teachers for student teaching placements and for insufficient attention to classroom management strategies.

As with previous versions of its Teacher Prep Review, NCTQ bases this report’s findings on a document review encompassing course catalogs, degree plans, syllabi, observation forms, and student teaching agreements with districts. The council recently acknowledged the shortcomings of the Review’s methodology to Education Week, which quotes the senior managing director of teacher preparation, Robert Rickenbrode, as saying, “We take great pains to say, look, this [review] isn’t everything. We say nothing about the instruction that is going on in college campuses. What we are looking for is design, and the documents we’re looking at are where the elements of design should be.”

This week’s report is the fourth installment of NCTQ’s planned five-part Teacher Prep Review; the fifth and final portion, covering traditional elementary and secondary special education, is due out later this year. For resources and background information about the NCTQ Review, please visit AACTE’s website.

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Zachary VanHouten

Manager of Programs and Advocacy, AACTE