Study of Illinois Teacher Education Programs Rates SESP Highest

Study of Illinois Teacher Education Programs Rates SESP Highest

Northwestern teacher education
Northwestern University rates highest of all 111 teacher education programs at 53 institutions in Illinois, based on a comprehensive new study conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). Northwestern’s grade of A- contrasts with the average score for the state’s teacher education programs of C-. NCTQ found many of the state’s largest programs lacking in their preparation of teachers for the classroom.

The School of Education and Social Policy’s undergraduate program in secondary teaching was the focus of the evaluation at Northwestern. NCTQ commends the program for its “selectivity in admissions,” “strong professional coursework” and “very strong preparation for secondary candidates in all subjects, including the sciences and social sciences.” Other criteria for evaluation included early field work, full-time student teaching, classroom management, preparation efficiency, classroom assessments, graduate outcomes, faculty expertise and secondary methods. Of all the criteria, SESP rated highest for its strong design in high school preparation.

NCTQ undertook the evaluation out of a need to define the core components of teacher preparation. “We pursue what we believe to be a singular definition of high-quality teacher preparation, namely identifying the necessary preparation and assessment that superintendents and principals say their new teacher should have had but routinely do not receive,” states the NCTQ report.

Dean Penelope Peterson notes, “The National Council on Teacher Quality believes that ‘every child deserves effective teachers,’ and so do we. At the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University, we take pride in the quality of our undergraduate and graduate programs in teacher education as well as in the quality of the teachers who graduate from our programs.” U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy in the top 10 schools of education in the nation. “We believe that the data collected by NCTQ support those judgments of the quality of our programs and our students,” notes Peterson.

Peterson further states, “Northwestern University is one of the leading private research institutions in the country, and as leaders of a research-based teacher education program, we value scientific inquiry. We agree with NCTQ when the Council states that school districts, teacher unions and schools of higher education all comprise part of the equation when looking for a solution to what is wrong with American education today, but we also believe that inquiry into a solution for a complex problem is best begun with reasoned discourse among the actors who can affect change. We hope that the NCTQ’s findings will lead these actors to engage in constructive substantive discourse about teacher education and the important role of teacher education in affecting improvement in K-12 education. We look forward to that conversation.”

Summarizing its overall findings related to all 53 institutions, NCTQ reports inconsistency in the programs within institutions; course work that needs more focus on the job ahead; ineffectiveness of national accreditation; and a need for effective mentor teachers, selection of the most academically capable teacher candidates and more effective state regulation.

At the state level, NCTQ recommends requiring stronger subject matter knowledge as well as tests of reading instruction for elementary and special education teacher candidates, improving elementary mathematics preparation, eliminating certification that spans K–9, eliminating general secondary science certification, developing data systems to show teacher effectiveness and raising admissions standards for teacher education programs.

NCTQ began its review of Illinois education schools last year and plans to widen the study to include 1,400 education programs across the country in 2012. The nonpartisan group, which has completed studies of teacher education in 10 other states, advocates for changes in teacher education and restructuring the teaching profession. Its current report, Ed School Essentials: A Review of Illinois Teacher Preparation, was commissioned by Advance Illinois, a state education advocacy group.

View the NCTQ report:
National Council on Teacher Quality: A Review of Illinois Teacher Preparation

Read news reports:
Chicago Tribune,
November 9, 2010
November 9, 2010
Fox News, November 9, 2010

Chronicle of Higher Education, November 9, 2010

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 11/10/10