OU's College Of Education Rates Poorly In Report

By
Arian Smedley - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Mon, Jun 24, 2013 10:24 am

The teacher preparation program at Ohio University scored poorly in a new report prepared by a national teacher quality group, but the college dean says the methodology is flawed.

The National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its report, The Teacher Prep Review, earlier this week in which it rated more than 1,000 public and private institutions with primary and secondary teacher preparation programs.

Based on the council’s assessments, colleges don’t adequately prepare future educators. The report was designed to prompt leaders at universities to rethink what skills educators need to thrive in the modern-day classroom.

The best programs were given four stars while the worst received no stars. More than three-quarters of the programs earn two or fewer stars, “ratings that connote, at best, mediocrity,” states the report. Ohio State University was the only institution nationwide to earn more than three stars for both an elementary and secondary program.

OU’s undergraduate program in the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education rated at two stars or below. The elementary program received one-and-a-half stars; the secondary program received two.

The graduate program at OU, which was recently rated by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best in the nation for the third year in a row, was not evaluated by the NCTQ. College officials say that fact, among others, is one reason they believe the methodology is flawed.

“NCTQ asserts that they are committed to evaluating the quality of educator preparation programs, but their methods are flawed on their face and lack rigor,” said Dean Renée Middleton in a prepared statement.

She’s not alone in that sentiment. The report drew immediate criticism from around the country.

The NCTQ, an advocacy group founded in 2000, received support from nearly 100 organizations (led by the Carnegie Corporation) to produce the review.

To assess the programs, the council looked at admissions standards, syllabuses, textbooks and course requirements. The review considered 18 standards, like how closely instruction aligned with the Common Core State Standards or how teachers were prepared to help struggling readers.

The organization didn’t visit the schools or interview students and faculty, another point the dean takes issue with.

“You can’t judge the quality of a program just on the website,” Middleton said. “You have to look at performance-based assessments.”

Jeff Cullum, superintendent of Alexander Local Schools, said that the idea behind the report has some validity.

“Sometimes universities aren’t up on the current things that the legislators have done in the public school system,” Cullum said.

He recalled several years ago the state invested a significant amount of money in public school technology. At that time, new teachers graduated with less knowledge of how to use that technology than his veteran staff.

“I think they’re trying to work on those kind of issues, for example, with the Third Grade Reading Guarantee,” he added.

Close to 90 percent of his teaching staff is a graduate from Ohio University.

“As far as the quality of teachers, I think they’re very good teachers when they come out.”

Kim Jones, superintendent at Trimble Local Schools, said she was surprised to hear of OU’s low rating.

“We have been extremely impressed by the quality of the recent graduates from the Patton College of Education at Ohio University,” she said via email. “Their knowledge of recent trends in education, including the most up-to-date curricular and testing standards and of best practices in teaching, co-teaching, and data usage has been quite impressive.”

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