NCTQ and US News Report on Teacher Prep: Making CS Teacher Prep Better

June 24, 2013 at 1:18 am Leave a comment

The National Council on Teacher Quality and US News and World Report have  released a state-by-state report on teacher preparation — and it’s pretty dismal.  I’ve copied some of the top “take-aways” below.

Important “take-aways”

  • In countries where students outperform the U.S., teacher prep schools recruit candidates from the top third of the college-going population. The Review found only one in four U.S. programs restricts admissions to even the top half of the college-going population.

  • A large majority of programs (71 percent) are not providing elementary teacher candidates with practical, research-based training in reading instruction methods that could reduce the current rate of reading failure (30 percent) to less than 10 percent of the student population.

  • Only 11 percent of elementary programs and 47 percent of secondary programs are providing adequate content preparation for teachers in the subjects they will teach.

via Teacher Prep: Findings.

There is some significant critique of the NCTQ study, particularly on its methodology. This is from Diane Ravitch’s blog:

NCTQ is not a professional association. It did not make site visits. It made its harsh judgments by reviewing course syllabi and catalogs. The criteria that it rated as most important was the institution’s fidelity to the Common Core standards.

As Rutgers’ Bruce Baker pointed out in his response, NCTQ boasts of its regard for teachers but its review of the nation’s teacher-training institutions says nothing about faculty. They don’t matter. They are irrelevant. All that matters is what is in the course catalog.

via That NCTQ Report on Teacher Education: F | Diane Ravitch’s blog.

I’d rather see the NCTQ study as pointing out problems for computing education programs to avoid. Given the results coming in from the UChicago Landscape study, I doubt if we’re doing much better now in computer science.  From a positive perspective, the best practices identified in the NCTQ report can inform what we do in computing education teacher professional development.  As Jeanne Century said at SIGCSE this last year, one advantage we have is that we’re starting from a pretty much clean slate — there’s not much out there.  We can try to build it right from the start.

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