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For its review, the council identified 18 standards for teacher preparation programs, such as instructing would-be educators how to implement Common Core State Standards, teach non-native English speakers and manage classrooms. The group spent eight years narrowing the standards and did 10 pilot studies to make certain their criteria were fair but tough. One pilot program in Illinois included 39 standards.
In all, the report looked at 1,130 teacher preparation programs. The students in those programs represent 99 percent of traditionally trained teachers.
"By providing critical information both to aspiring teachers so they can make different choices at the front end, and then to school districts at the back end looking to hire the best-trained new teachers, reform need not rest on either good will or political will," the report’s authors wrote.
To reach their conclusions, the investigators requested tomes of information from education programs, such as admission requirements, course syllabi, textbooks and graduate surveys.
Only 114 institutions chose to cooperate with the review. About 700 institutions objected in letters to council’s partner, U.S. News & World Report, to the council’s methodology. Some told students not to cooperate with requests.
"I think NCTQ points out is that we are probably underequipping teachers going into classrooms," said David Chard, dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University.
His program cooperated with the council’s review and won only two out of four possible stars.
"We did not fare as well on this review," he said. "We need to do a better job of communicating both with our students and NCTQ where our content can be found. In some cases, we have some work to do."
At schools that did not cooperate, investigators asked students, book stores and professors to share their course documents, reading lists and policies. In some cases, the council filed lawsuits to collect those documents.
The researchers spent an average of 40 hours in grading each education program.
As soon as plans for the review were announced, the council faced persistent skepticism and strong opposition.
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten called the review a "gimmick" in a statement released Tuesday.
She said she agrees on the need to improve teacher preparation, but "it would be more productive to focus on developing a consistent, systemic approach to lifting the teaching profession instead of resorting to attention-grabbing consumer alerts based on incomplete standards."
The profession’s accreditation panel was more muted.
"The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation is still examining the report," president James G. Cibulka said.
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