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Report pans teacher prep program

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By AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Friday, May 19, 2017

N.C. Wesleyan College is defending the teacher education program at the college after a recent report by the National Council on Teacher Quality ranked the secondary education program as one of the worst in the nation.

The report ranked the college’s preparation for high school teachers in the bottom 2 percent of colleges examined. The report examined 717 undergraduate programs that prepare high school teachers, including 22 in North Carolina. 

Nearby Barton College ranked even lower on the report. The four highest rated secondary level education programs in the state included Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, High Point University and Meredith College.

Dr. Evan Duff, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs for N.C. Wesleyan College, defended the teacher education program at the college and dismissed the report’s claims as invalid.

“At North Carolina Wesleyan College, we are proud of our Teacher Education program that is regionally accredited, professional accredited by CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation) as well as approved by the state of North Carolina. We do not provide any information to NCTQ, whose methods are flawed and a misrepresentation of our quality of education. True evaluation comes in the form of surveys, interviews, assessments and statistical data, all of which NCTQ did not use or does not have access to for North Carolina Wesleyan College,” Duff said.

Though the National Council on Teacher Quality has reportedly received funding through the years from several organizations including the U.S. Department of Education and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, several other organizations — including the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education — have questioned the validity of its reports as an accurate representation of teacher education quality.

In a telephone interview, Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, explained the intent of the report.

“The National Council on Teacher Quality evaluates programs according to what we feel best supports teachers,” Walsh said. “We compare the programs against evidence-based methods that have been proven effective in the classroom.”

The council’s main concern was the lack of broad-based instruction in social studies for students wanting to teach in that field and the lack of courses teaching methods of instruction for specific classes at the secondary level. The report also cited concerns that the college was “not sufficiently selective” about who was admitted into teacher education programs and that instruction on what the council perceives as best practices for classroom management is not adequate.

“This is important because classroom management is the number one complaint from new teachers,” Walsh said.

However, Walsh also said N.C. Wesleyan College received high scores in the area of preparation for science education, receiving a four out of four possible points for the quality of that program. This designation does not surprise Duff, who said the teacher education program at Wesleyan is recognized as a NASA Shining Star partner institution for K-12 STEM education.

Walsh said the college had a chance to dispute the rating but did not do so. But Duff told the Telegram he does deny the council’s claims, including those regarding the low admissions standards.

“While the college is open enrollment, teacher education has rigorous admission standards, including a 3.0 GPA and passing scores for Praxis Core or SAT 1100/ACT 24 equivalent,” Duff said.

The college also points to the success of the teacher education program at Wesleyan, noting that the college’s licensed graduates have a 100 percent job placement rate in Eastern North Carolina. Duff also said a Wesleyan graduate, Linda Cooper, was selected this spring as a nominee for the Student North Carolina Association of Educators student teacher of the year award. 

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