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Colorado falls short on controversial teacher prep program ranking system

Over half of Colorado’s teacher preparatory programs scored below the national average on a controversial national ranking released Tuesday.

That’s the second low score for the state on the ranking system from the National Council for Teaching Quality (NCTQ), a reform-minded advocacy organization which began evaluating the nation’s teacher education programs last year. The first release sparked frustration and anger from many education schools, with critics arguing that the rankings failed to look at aspects proven to help teachers improve student learning.

This year, some teacher education programs in Colorado and elsewhere refused to participate in the ratings. University of Colorado-Denver did not submit any materials to the NCTQ. The school’s dean sent an email to colleagues and the college’s partners directing them to an alternate review of the program’s quality. CU-Denver scored the lowest of any of the CU campuses in the NCTQ rankings.

But others have touted the rankings as a much needed push to make the preparation for teaching more rigorous and more relevant. Colorado legislators and education advocates have considered changes to how teachers are licensed to teach, which would affect teacher preparation programs. But no new legislation surfaced during the 2014 legislative session.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Just three percent of Colorado programs assigned student teachers to high-performing teacher mentors and provided frequent concrete feedback.
  • Most programs failed to prepare either elementary or secondary candidates on the content they would be teaching.
  • The NCTQ rankings also dinged Colorado for the lack of selectivity in its teacher prep programs. Just six programs selected candidates in the top half of their class.

The report focussed primarily on traditional teacher prep programs, although it did include a small selection of alternative programs. In Colorado, that included Teach for America and the Teacher Institute at La Academia. Neither scored high on the NCTQ rankings.

Despite Colorado programs’ overall anemic showing on the ratings, the University of Colorado-Boulder education school ranked among the nation’s best. It scored 18th in the nation for its preparation of elementary teachers, compared with 394th for CU-Denver and 125th for CU-Colorado Springs.

The full report, including the results from other states, is available here.

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