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Report: Most Washington colleges offer poor reading teacher training programs

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(The Center Square) – Washington’s universities got the equivalent of a bad report card in a new study released by the National Council on Teacher Quality evaluating 700 teacher training programs in states throughout the country.

Specifically, the study rates the performance of state-level programs in training instructors on how to teach children to read.

“NCTQ engaged in a two-year revision process with the field to determine how to evaluate teacher prep programs on preparing aspiring teachers in effective literacy instruction,” the executive summary reads.

Eight of the dozen Washington programs looked at received an “F” grade. Two programs got a “C.” One program received a “B,” and another rated an “A.”

Washington’s programs were graded as follows:

Centralia College, undergraduate: F

City University of Seattle, undergraduate: F

City University of Seattle, graduate: F

Eastern Washington University, graduate: F

University of Washington – Bothell, graduate: F

University of Washington – Seattle, graduate: F

University of Washington – Tacoma: F

Western Washington University: F

Central Washington University, undergraduate: C

Eastern Washington University, undergraduate: C

Washington State University, graduate: B

Washington State University, undergraduate: A

Live Finne, education director at the free market Washington Policy Center, used the report to argue for school choice in the Evergreen State.

“Washington’s persistent poor teacher quality, low academic achievement and the advancements made by other states are powerful incentives for more families to pull out of the public system,” she wrote in a Tuesday blog in response to the NCTQ study. “After all, why risk a child’s future on a teacher from a training program that’s getting an ‘F’ in reading instruction, when lawmakers in other states are actually helping parents educate their children.”

Finne had previously noted in her blog that lawmakers in Arizona, West Virginia, Iowa, Utah, Arkansas, Florida and Oklahoma have enacted universal school choice this year “that gives parents direct access to funding to pay for alternatives like online or private school tuition.”

The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction had a different take on the results of the NCTQ report.

“While there is more to unpack about the methodology of this research, NCTQ generally takes a scan of college course content as evidence of what is being taught, and not necessarily on the quality of the experience of teacher candidates in college preparation programs,” Katy Payne, OSPI executive director of communications, told The Center Square in an email. “In Washington state, the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) is the agency responsible for the oversight of educator preparation programs. We trust they will take this report into account as they certify and approve teacher preparation programs.”

The Center Square reached out to the PESB, but did not receive a response.

“That said, the best national research shows that ‘teachers learn 50% of what they come to know about teaching in their first year in the classroom, and half as much again in the second (year),'” Payne continued. “While syllabi in a college teacher prep course can be a simple indicator of actual practice, it falls short of a meaningful study of the quality of teacher preparatory programs and long-term teacher effectiveness.”

Developing quality teachers is a process, she noted.

“Investments in early career policies such as teacher residency and beginning educator mentoring is OSPI’s primary focus on building off of evidence-based teacher growth research to impact all students,” Payne said. “In short, where college and university teacher preparation programs work to graduate students into the profession, OSPI and our local school districts do the heavy lifting of supporting teachers once they are actually in the classroom, where they truly learn what it means to be a classroom teacher.”

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