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Report Claims Teacher Prep Programs Lack Rigor

Report Finds 'Lack of Rigor' in Teacher Prep Programs

A report from the National Council on Teacher Quality finds that there may be a lack of rigor as well as grade inflation in teacher preparation programs.

The November report, "Easy A's and What's Behind Them" found that "students graduate with honors from teaching programs at a higher rate than do students in other majors. The NCTQ blamed a lack of rigor, saying teaching candidates are given assignments that are too broad and subjective to prepare them for the classroom," according to an article on DistrictAdministration.com.

“Aspiring teachers are effectively being misled into thinking they’re very well prepared for the profession,” says Kate Walsh, president of the NCTQ, according to the article. “But often when they arrive in the classroom, they feel like they’re hitting a brick wall, and the A’s that they got don’t really signal to them that they were prepared.”

More Qualified Students May Earn Better Grades

According to the article, Linda Houser, incoming president of the Association of Teacher Educators says "the 'Easy A’s' report makes questionable assumptions based on unsound data collection and analysis."

“On GPA, they made the assumption that because more education students received honors, the rigor of the programs tends to be less,” Houser said in the article. “That’s one of the assumptions that’s a huge leap—there’s no research to show that connection.”

According to the article, "a common teaching program entrance requirement is a 3.0 GPA, along with passing entrance exams in many states. These standards keep students with lower grades and less academic ability from entering teaching programs, Houser says. Also, education students earn many of their grades outside the education programs, such as from math or science courses."

“If you’re only accepting those who do well, who are academically talented and gifted, you’re naturally going to have students graduating with higher GPAs,” Houser said in the article.

According to the article, "the reason for the lack of rigor, according to the NCTQ report, is that students in education programs are given too many 'criterion-deficient assignments.' Walsh says this type of assignment is too subjective, and asks students to only give opinions—not to demonstrate mastery of specific skills.

The report details two assignment types:

  • A criterion-deficient assignment might ask an education student to write a lesson plan to teach an elementary school science concept, taking into account the composition of the class and needs of its students.
  • A more rigorous, criterion-referenced assignment would require the candidate to develop the lesson plan for a specific third-grade science objective that will accommodate a class’ gifted students and English-language learners.

"Researchers analyzed more than 1,100 education and noneducation courses at 33 institutions," the article said. "They found students are far more likely to get an A on criterion-deficient assignments assignments, which are far more common in education courses."

“The solutions are pretty easy,” Walsh said in the article. “This is simply a dean sitting down with faculty and saying, ‘Let’s examine the kind of assignments we’re handing out.’ ”

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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