Student teaching done wrong — and right

Student teachers don’t work with excellent classroom instructors in many cases, concludes a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which analyzed and rated 134 colleges and universities. Almost 75 percent of education programs don’t require the student teacher’s mentor to be an effective classroom instructor.

Programs are “begging” for student-teacher placements and can’t afford to be choosy, the report finds. In part, that’s because programs admit too many students, says NCTQ President Kate Walsh.

 “Right now, far too many institutions accept anyone and everyone, including many who have no intention of ever teaching.  Some students enter the program because it has the reputation for being the easiest program on campus to complete, while others discover that teaching is not for them, yet they have to student teach in order to graduate.  The teaching profession needs much higher standards.”

Schools of education, often considered “cash cows” for their universities, turn out more than twice as many graduates as schools hire, NCTQ estimates. The surplus is greatest for would-be elementary teachers. The report suggests requiring a fallback major so students who leave the teaching track can graduate on schedule.

In addition, working with a student teacher should be a more attractive proposition for exemplary classroom teachers, the report suggests, calling for “monetary incentives, prestige for being selected and assurance that the student teacher is qualified for the experience.”

NCTQ did find 10 model programs: Key Ingredients for Strong Student Teaching offers suggestions.

NCTQ’s analysis is controversial, writes Inside Higher Ed.  Most schools of education aren’t happy about the methodology NCTQ developed for U.S. News & World Report‘s upcoming teacher-education program rankings.

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  1. As is true with so many of these “reports”, it makes no distinction between elementary and secondary teachers–in fact, this report is only about elementary teachers, which no one seems to mention–nor does it distinguish between “education majors”, undergraduates who are getting an elem ed teaching credential because (apparently) it’s easy to do and post-grad credential candidates who majored in something else and are going into teaching.

    in other words, the news flash here apparently is that colleges are producing two and a half times more elementary school teachers than are needed, many of whom have no intention of being teachers–well, that’s really news. And it should be the focus of the report. Instead, they focus on student teaching and set a whole bunch of requirements that they personally think are important (even though they say that there’s no research supporting it) and complain that no one else shares them..

    So they’ve just added to the useless education research. Thanks, guys.

  2. tim-10-ber says:

    So need to do away with the elementary teacher designation. All teachers need an academic major, maybe a minor too so they can teach up to two subjects…just please have elementary math and reading teachers, real elementary math and reading teachers. They seem to be a very rare breed these days and yes, pay them and pay them well. We need them.

  3. Your post is pretty incoherent, but as to your push to do away with the elementary school designation: that’s absurd. You won’t get enough qualified teachers, and I don’t see why taxpayer dollars should be wasted paying for more skills than are needed. The test is fine.

  4. As Cal rightly points out, there’s an important distinction between elementary and secondary teachers. There’s a glut of both, and schools could tighten up selection criteria without making much dent in the candidate pool.

    I enjoy having student teachers, and will take one every other year or so. I only take second career or graduate candidates who are more likely to actually want to teach (given the chance in the tight job market). There’s nothing more miserable than the student teacher just putting in the time to graduate. A total waste of my time and expertise. I also won’t take student teachers from certain programs in my area because they are so dismal. I had one student teacher supervisor come in who was so senile he couldn’t follow the student discussion going on.

    FWIW, cooperating teachers around here are generally paid $100 at the end of the semester.