You might want to take a long, sobering look at the National Council on Teacher Quality’s evaluation of teacher preparation programs. The review evaluates programs on a number of factors including selection criteria, content preparation, and student teaching, granting a high score of four stars to a low of no stars at all.
Of the 2,420 programs sampled, only four teacher preparation programs in the country received four stars: the secondary education programs of Furman University in South Carolina, Lipscomb University in Tennessee, Ohio State University, and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. 105 programs received three or more stars and 162 programs received no stars at all.
Considering local schools I found it gratifying that Chicago State University’s undergraduate elementary school teacher preparation program received three stars. A considerable number of Chicago State graduates go on to serve Chicago public schools. On the more sobering side Northern Illinois’s graduate program in elementary education, Roosevelt University’s graduate program in secondary education, and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s graduate program in elementary education all received no stars, meaning that after completing their programs their graduates were no better prepared than when they began.
A number of prestigious and pricey private ed schools in the area received only one star.
It seems to me that this review is useful for a number of reasons. First, if you or someone you know is considering attending one of those prestigious and pricey private ed schools, you might think about just what you’ll be getting for your money. Smart, hard-working students can go to bad schools just as poor, slacker students can attend top-rate schools. Both inputs and outputs are important. But you might as well get what you pay for.
Second, if you or someone you know doesn’t have the budget to attend an expensive school, it’s good to know that there are public schools that have top-flight programs.
Third, tax-payers might be interested in what their tax dollars are buying. That might be especially true in the Golden State where an alarming number of the California State education programs were goose-egged.
This review also highlights a problem with teacher compensation. The smartest, hardest working graduates of top-flight programs are on the same salary schedules as the lowest-performing grads of the poorest programs. The upside I suppose is that the reputations of schools are hardly secrets within the educational community and the school that you’ve attended might well affect how your application for employment is viewed.