Push for Quality Faces Uphill Climb for Kansas’ Teacher Preparation Programs
National Council on Teacher Quality Releases
Second Annual Review of Teacher Preparation Programs
Two Kansas Programs Earn ‘Top Ranked’ Status
Washington, DC—The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its 2014 Teacher Prep Review, with a much expanded and more comprehensive evaluation of 1,612 teacher preparation programs across the United States, and for the first time, a numeric ranking of programs. The elementary and secondary programs at Fort Hays State University earned national ‘Top Ranked’ status—a distinction awarded to 107 programs in the nation for overall strong performance.
Among the 26 Kansas programs that were fully evaluated, six elementary and six secondary programs were strong enough to receive a national ranking. Fourteen programs in Kansas did not receive a numeric rank because their performance was in the bottom half of the national sample.
To ensure that all teachers are well-prepared, state leaders and local school districts need to demand that programs improve and, if necessary, look across their state lines for the best sources of well-trained teachers. Districts are also advised to dig deeper into the NCTQ findings to identify programs which may not do well overall but do well on particular standards to meet specific district needs, such as teachers with strong preparation in reading instruction.
“Given the increasing knowledge and skills expected of teachers, it is indeed disappointing that we could not identify more exemplary programs in Kansas. However, Kansas is by no means unique,” noted Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality. “The dearth of high-quality programs is a national problem that public school educators, state policymakers and advocates, working alongside higher education, must solve together.”
NCTQ fully evaluated 26 undergraduate and graduate programs housed in 15 Kansas institutions—more than double the number evaluated in 2013. In addition to elementary and secondary programs, NCTQ examined one special education program in the state.
Teacher Prep Review Results for Kansas
Programs earning ‘Top Ranked’ status in bold
Highest ranked elementary programs (national rank):
- Fort Hays State University – Undergraduate (12)
- University of Kansas – Undergraduate (63)
- Kansas State University – Undergraduate (144)
- Emporia State University – Undergraduate (165)
- Pittsburg State University – Undergraduate (327)
Highest ranked secondary programs (national rank):
- Fort Hays State University – Undergraduate (3)
- Kansas State University – Undergraduate (127)
- Pittsburg State University – Undergraduate (127)
- Bethany College – Undergraduate (193)
- Newman University – Undergraduate (193)
A complete list of Kansas rankings is available on the NCTQ website.
There were three institutions, all private but housing publicly-approved teacher preparation programs, which NCTQ was unable to evaluate. These institutions declined NCTQ’s invitation to participate and did not turn over course materials for the Teacher Prep Review. Nevertheless, the Review does provide some limited findings on these programs, including whether they are adequately selective about who is admitted to the program and the quality of content preparation they provide. A complete list of non-cooperating institutions is available online.
NCTQ’s review of teacher preparation programs focuses on the knowledge, skills, and academic attributes new teachers need to be classroom ready when they graduate. Drawing from a set of 18 standards, NCTQ applies the relevant standards to elementary, secondary or special education programs. Findings for Kansas include:
Selectivity: 21 percent of programs in Kansas fully meet this standard, compared to the national average of 28 percent. These seven programs select candidates above the 50th percentile in the population of college-attending high school graduates, a relatively modest bar compared to what other high-performing nations require.
Early reading instruction: 21 percent of evaluated elementary programs in Kansas meet or nearly meet this standard by preparing teacher candidates in effective, scientifically-based reading instruction, compared to 34 percent of programs nationally.
Student teaching: Four percent of programs in Kansas were found to ensure a high-quality student teaching experience, in which candidates are assigned only to highly skilled teachers and receive frequent concrete feedback. Five percent of programs nationally require such an experience.
Classroom management: Seven Kansas programs (47 percent) fully meet the standard by providing feedback to teacher candidates on specific classroom management strategies to improve classroom behavior. This is significantly greater than the national average of 15 percent.
Elementary content preparation: 17 percent of the elementary programs in Kansas were found to nearly meet this standard, compared to 11 percent of all elementary programs nationally.
Secondary content preparation: The results were better for subject matter preparation of secondary teacher candidates, with 33 percent of programs fully meeting the standard, compared to the national average of 35 percent.
In addition to analyzing colleges and universities providing traditional teacher preparation, NCTQ reviewed a sample of secondary alternative certification providers not managed by a university or college. The results for these 85 providers, none of which are located in Kansas, were even weaker than for traditional programs. NCTQ found their admissions standards to be too low, efforts to assess subject matter knowledge inadequate, and too little training or support provided to candidates who are asked to hit the ground running in the classroom. Only one provider out of 85 earned high marks (Teach For America, Massachusetts).
The widespread attention surrounding the Review has helped to precipitate considerable activity by policymakers to strengthen teacher preparation. Over the last two years, 33 states have made significant changes to laws and regulations to improve teacher preparation, and another seven states, including Kansas, have taken steps forward.
In April of this year, the federal government also made an important move to improve teacher preparation by announcing its intention to strengthen accountability measures for teacher preparation programs and restrict millions in grants to only high-performing programs.
“While we are encouraged by the action that has been taken by Kansas and other states, we have a lot more work to do to provide future teachers with the world-class training that both they and students deserve,” added Walsh. “We urge policymakers and higher ed leaders to make this issue priority number one so that teachers in this country get the best possible training for the classroom.”
The full 2014 Teacher Prep Review report is available on NCTQ’s website. NCTQ has identified steps Kansas can take to make meaningful improvements to teacher prep and has provided guidance to districts on how to identify the best trained teachers.
The National Council on Teacher Quality is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization located in Washington DC. Founded in 2000, NCTQ is committed to restructuring the teaching profession, led by our vision that every child deserves effective teachers. NCTQ is committed to lending transparency and increasing public awareness of the four institutions having the greatest impact on teacher quality: states, teacher preparation programs, school districts, and teachers unions.
Funding for the second edition of the Review is provided by 54 foundations, located in 22 states.
For more information, contact Graham Drake, firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-393-0020 x113.