Report blasts teacher training, but PUC gets high rating
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/302-0949 June 18, 2013 3:02PM
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Updated: July 20, 2013 6:36AM
Purdue University Calumet is one of just 13 schools in the country with two highly rated teacher education programs, according to a controversial report released Tuesday that slams teacher-training programs.
It offered harsh words for the nation’s education schools labeling them an “industry of mediocrity.”
The review, conducted by the not-for-profit National Council on Teacher Quality, was published Tuesday in the U.S. News and World Report.
The study criticized education schools for admissions standards, course syllabi, and textbook selection. “A vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not give aspiring teachers adequate return on their investment of time and tuition dollars,” the report’s authors said.
The study gave a favorable rating to less than 10 percent of teacher-training programs out of more than 1,100 evaluated. It rated schools from 0 to 4 stars.
Purdue Calumet earned 3 stars for its undergraduate elementary and secondary education programs.
“The largest strength of the Purdue Calumet program is hands-on classroom-based experiences that we provide for our future teachers,” said Alice Anderson, dean of PUC’s School of Education.
She said PUC has strong relationships with Northwest Indiana K-12 schools.
“We’re careful about which schools have the student teachers from Purdue Calumet to ensure we are getting effective teachers to be their mentors.”
The study criticized Indiana, saying only 24 percent of elementary and secondary programs restrict admissions to the top half of the college-going population, compared to 28 percent nationwide.
It said 90 percent of Indiana schools failed to ensure a high quality student teaching experience where students are assigned to highly skilled teachers and receive concrete feedback.
Some 239,000 teachers are trained each year nationwide and 98,000 are hired — meaning too many students are admitted and only a fraction find work.
While pleased with the rating, Anderson isn’t sold on the rating system itself.
“I am proud of our rating, but I don’t necessarily endorse the methodology used in their study,” she said.
Only 114 institutions chose to cooperate with the review. About 700 institutions objected in letters to the council’s partner, U.S. News & World Report, to the council’s methodology. Some told students not to cooperate with requests.
At schools that did not cooperate, investigators asked students, book stores and professors to share their course documents, reading lists and policies. In some cases, the council filed lawsuits to collect those documents.
The researchers spent an average of 40 hours in grading each education program.
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten called the review a “gimmick” in a statement released Tuesday. She labeled the study as “attention-grabbing consumer alerts based on incomplete standards.”
The NCTQ plans to update its findings annually. The study was financed by $4.8 million in contributions from 65 private foundations. It’s been endorsed by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
“By giving consumers the power to make more informed choices, we can help them become the engine for driving change,” said Kate Walsh, president of the NCTQ. “As we’ve seen in most other sectors, informed consumers are hard to ignore.”