The student-teaching experience offered by many traditional schools of education couples poor supervision with a lack of rigorous selection of mentor-teachers, a controversial report concludes.
The report, released last month by the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality, examines student-teaching practices in 134 education schools, or about one-tenth of such programs nationwide. All but a quarter of the programs reviewed earned a “weak” or “poor” rating.
“It tells you a lot about the state of teacher education that we find it acceptable that student-teachers don’t have to meet a measure of quality, nor do the people who train them,” said Kate Walsh, the president of the NCTQ.
Some teacher-educators criticized the review for its methodology, charging that the council put too much weight on document reviews to the exclusion of other factors, and did not make public the scoring system used to rate the institutions.
“I actually think for the most part the standards are appropriate,” said Ada Beth Cutler, the dean of the college of education and human services at Montclair State University, in New Jersey. “But ... they are not transparent about the ratings, and I think that’s irresponsible.”
Such complaints echo the debate surrounding a larger project under way by the NCTQ and U.S. News & World Report to issue ratings for all 1,400 U.S. schools of education, a project that has generated considerable opposition from university-based programs.
Last month’s report, “Student Teaching in the United States,” uses information gathered from document reviews and interviews to judge the teacher-training programs against five standards. Among other findings, the report says that:
• Three-quarters of programs reviewed met the standard of 10 weeks of student-teaching.
• Eighty-two percent of programs reviewed required cooperating teachers to have three years of experience, but only 28 percent explicitly required them to be effective instructors.
• Fifty-four percent of principals surveyed reported that their partner institution had no criteria for selecting mentor-teachers.
Just under half the institutions required university supervisors to visit candidates at least five times, but they often did not have adequate tools for providing helpful feedback to teachers.
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2011 edition of Education Week as NCTQ Review Sharply Critical of Student-Teacher Programs