Teacher Preparation

Most Teacher Preparation Falls Short on Strategies for ELLs, NCTQ Finds

By Lesli A. Maxwell — June 17, 2014 2 min read
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More than 75 percent of elementary teacher-preparation programs are failing when it comes to readying future teachers to work effectively with English-language learners, a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality contends.

The report—which judges the quality of teacher-preparation programs on numerous factors—also focuses on whether teacher-prep programs required candidates to complete reading courses that include strategies to meet the needs of ELLs. The findings in the NCTQ’s second annual review of teacher-preparation programs are pretty much identical to last year’s when it comes to ELLs.

That seemingly so few programs are meeting what NCTQ calls a “low bar” of even exposing teacher candidates to strategies for ELLs raises a lot of concerns, especially as the population of such students increases in schools across the country and as the widespread use of the Common Core State Standards is ramping up pressure on all teachers to support English-learners.

Overall, NCTQ gives low marks to most programs based at colleges and universities, as well as alternative-certification programs. Stephen Sawchuk has all those details over at Teacher Beat.

To score programs on the ELL standard, NCTQ looked at whether syllabi for required courses included the presentation of literacy strategies for English-learners.

The report did not single out any state or program for doing a particularly good job in preparing teachers to work with English-learners.

A quick review of states with large numbers of ELLs shows that 35 percent of California’s reviewed teacher-prep programs devoting adequate attention to ELL literacy issues, according to NCTQ. Texas’ reviewed programs do slightly better than that, at 38 percent. Florida is on par with California at 35 percent, while just 15 percent of New York state’s programs demonstrated that they met the standard for ELLs. Overall, Ohio does best in this category, with 52 percent of its reviewed programs meeting the ELL standard.

NCTQ’s review this year ranks programs, a different system from last year’s inaugural report when the group gave out stars to teacher-prep programs. Its methodology for reviewing teacher-prep remains a hotly contested issue.

*Correction: An earlier version of this blog post misstated in part the criteria NCTQ used to evaluate if teacher-preparation programs adequately address the needs of ELLs. Reviewers did not consider textbooks used by the programs for the purposes of rating the English-learner standard.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.