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UC’s Teacher Education Programs Take Center Stage Following National Standards Controversy


At a national education conference, UC participates in a case study under two different organizations rating the preparation of our nation’s teachers.

Date: 3/3/2014 10:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover

UC ingot   It was an issue that erupted in national controversy last summer, but all parties involved are passionate about the same goal: to provide every child in the nation with a high-quality education that will build on their future success.
Teachers College
Teachers College

The University of Cincinnati’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) took center stage among a bevy of acronyms last weekend, as college leaders took part in a national discussion before hundreds of the nation’s educators and education leaders at the 66th annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) in Indianapolis.

At the conference session, UC volunteered to be used as a case study in a discussion involving CECH, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) — the national accreditation organization for teacher colleges – and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The NCTQ released a report on the nation’s teacher preparation programs last year amid a swirl of controversy, with ratings published in U.S. News & World Report.

Participants in the weekend discussion included Sam Stringfield, professor of education and director of the UC School of Education; Annie Bauer, professor of education and coordinator of accreditation for UC’s School of Education; Jim Cibulka, executive director of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP); and Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

Every seven years, CECH and hundreds of other teacher education institutions across the nation undergo a vigorous accreditation review by the specialized accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). As that organization merged with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) last summer, UC’s School of Education became the first college in the nation to receive CAEP accreditation, with a very positive review, from both NCATE and CAEP.

More than 900 public and private educator preparation providers will eventually participate in the CAEP accreditation process to meet national, high-quality standards in preparing educators for their careers. UC’s Stringfield was recently appointed to a CAEP research committee that will review and analyze initiatives to improve those programs.

The accreditation process requires the collection of data on almost every level in the teacher education program, including data-driven policy about candidates and programs, faculty performance and development, classroom experience, evaluation of both skill and disposition of prospective teachers, student satisfaction surveys and surveys from their mentor teachers in partner K-12 schools. The procedure also requires a campus visit from the national accrediting organization.

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), founded in 2000 and solely funded by private foundations, is described as an advocacy organization for teacher education reform on federal, state and local levels. Last summer, the NCTQ released the first of an annual study NCTQ is conducting on teacher preparation programs. The NCTQ ratings were published in U.S. News & World Report.

The NCTQ’s report and method of data collection on more than 1,000 teacher preparation programs were widely criticized by education leaders nationwide, as well as by the AACTE, the host of the weekend conference. For data collection, the NCTQ requested that education institutions submit syllabi, course descriptions, admission criteria and student teaching handbooks to compare with a set of standards developed by the NCTQ that included the new Common Core State Standards. The report gave less than 10 percent of the nation’s institutions three stars or more out of a 4-star rating system on their teacher education programs.

UC’s bachelor’s of science program in middle childhood education/social studies and mathematics, for instance, received an overall two-and-a-half star rating, but scored four stars in areas such as selection criteria, common core content and classroom management. On the other hand, the program’s BS in early childhood education received only one overall star, with no ratings for common core content. UC had responded to the report, explaining that because Common Core standards had not yet been adopted, programs and syllabi did not yet reflect those standards.

Stringfield says UC’s education syllabi are also being updated to reflect site visits for faculty to observe student teachers, another criticism of the report. “The syllabi were not indicating that we regularly send our faculty out to observe our students, although that is our policy,” says Stringfield. “We’re now modifying our syllabi to reflect those visits as a result of the findings in the report.”

Stringfield says the conference is yet another opportunity to demonstrate UC’s dedication to excellence in teacher preparation through communication and transparency of its research-based methods to prepare future teachers for the classroom.

“The presence of two sets of ratings raises important questions about how our schools of education should be measured, and how those measures work out in practice – both as stand-alone ratings and as aides in college efforts toward continuous improvement. Those questions are central to any college of education’s ability to implement change that works, as well as to advocate for our individual colleges and for the larger field of educator preparation,” says Stringfield.

In January, the NCTQ released its seventh-annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook, which gave the state of Ohio a B-minus for policies that support effective teaching. The average national grade across the 50 states was a C-minus.

The AACTE is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to professional development of teachers and education administrators. The 800 institutions that are AACTE members represent public and private colleges and universities in every state.

UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) was formed as the Teachers College in 1905 in partnership with the Cincinnati Board of Education. In addition to preparing students to work in diverse communities, the college provides continual professional development and fosters education leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.