WASHINGTON – Rhode Island is one of 17 states and the District of Columbia that did not have a teacher preparation program on the national “top ranked” list of the 2014 Teacher Prep Review released Tuesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality.
The list compiled by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization, is an expanded evaluation of 1,612 teacher preparation programs across the country.
Top-ranked degree programs included one in elementary education by Dallas Baptist University in Texas and one in secondary education by Western Governors University in Utah, according to the review.
The University of Rhode Island’s undergraduate elementary and secondary programs ranked nationally at No. 107 and No. 152, respectively, while Rhode Island College’s graduate program ranked No. 193.
Three Rhode Island schools reported insufficient data and were unranked: Brown University, Roger Williams University and Salve Regina University. Providence College reported one program with insufficient data and another program that was not ranked because it was not scored in the top 50 percent of the nation, according to the online report.
“Given the increasing knowledge and skills expected of teachers, it is indeed disappointing that we could not identify an exemplary program in Rhode Island. However, Rhode Island is by no means unique,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. “The dearth of high-quality programs is a national problem that public school educators, state policymakers and advocates, working alongside higher education, must solve together.”
The council’s review of teacher preparation programs covers the knowledge and skills new teachers need to be classroom-ready, including selectivity, early reading instruction, student teaching and classroom management.
The findings of the study in Rhode Island included the following:
Two evaluated elementary programs for early reading instruction in Rhode Island meet or nearly meet this standard by preparing teacher candidates in effective, scientifically-based reading instruction, compared to 34 percent of programs nationally.
The Rhode Island programs evaluated fully meet the classroom management standard by providing feedback to teacher candidates on specific classroom management strategies to improve classroom behavior. About 15 percent of programs meet this standard nationally.
Thirty-three percent of student teaching programs in Rhode Island were found to ensure a high-quality student teaching experience, in which candidates are assigned only to highly skilled teachers and receive frequent concrete feedback. Five percent of programs nationally require that level of experience.
“While we are encouraged by the action that has been taken by Rhode Island and other states, we have a lot more work to do to provide future teachers with the world-class training that both they and students deserve,” added Walsh. “We urge policymakers and higher ed leaders to make this issue priority number one so that teachers in this country get the best possible training for the classroom.”
The organization also has advised Rhode Island institutions on steps they can take to improve.
The full 2014 Teacher Prep Review report is available on the council website at www.nctq.org.