Research group: Some Idaho teacher-prep programs underperform

A national ranking of teacher-preparation programs shows some Idaho institutions are underperforming, and one expert says it could be affecting student test scores.

The National Council on Teacher Quality released its latest national ratings for both traditional and alternative teacher-prep programs. Only Idaho’s alternative teacher-prep program was included in this latest report. However, the NCTQ posts national percentile rankings for Idaho teacher-prep programs from both 2016 and 2017.

These rankings suggest that Idaho’s universities and alternative teacher-prep programs are low-performing. The University of Idaho, Idaho State University and state-approved alternative teacher-prep program American Board of Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) all tallied national percentile rankings below 50 percent.

On the other hand, private Northwest Nazarene University’s score exceeds all other Idaho teacher-prep programs at 94 percent. Lewis-Clark State College’s rankings exceed 75 percent for both its elementary and secondary teacher-prep programs.

Here’s a closer look at the NCTQ’s most recent percentile rankings of Idaho’s programs:

Traditional programs: 

  • Northwest Nazarene University (secondary): 94 percent.
  • Lewis-Clark State College (elementary): 79 percent
  • Lewis-Clark State College (secondary): 76 percent.
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho (secondary): 71 percent.
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho (elementary): 66 percent.
  • University of Idaho (elementary): 49 percent.
  • Idaho State University (elementary): 25 percent.

Alternative-route program: 

  • American Board of Certification of Teacher Excellence: 31 percent.

U of I’s graduate program for aspiring special education teachers isn’t included in the report do due “insufficient data,” the NCTQ website reads. Likewise, Boise State University’s secondary STEM teacher-prep program, “IDoTeach,” is not included because the NCTQ is still learning about it, said NCTQ spokesman Eric Duncan.

“We do plan on rating Boise State in future editions when we … learn more about the (IDoTeach) program there and around the country,” Duncan said.

To compile its rankings, the NCTQ gauged performance in three main categories: admissions, knowledge and practice. Researchers assigned traditional letter grades to more specific measures within these broader categories. For example, BYU-Idaho’s elementary teacher-prep program received a “B” in selection criteria (admissions) and an “F” in elementary content (knowledge). Lewis-Clark State College’s secondary teacher-prep program earned an “A” in secondary content in the sciences (knowledge) and a “C” in student teaching (practice).

Click here for the NCTQ’s list and percentile rankings of Idaho’s teacher-prep programs. Click on individual schools to view letter grades assigned to specific performance measures.

Low-performing prep programs could be affecting student performance

A national expert says the quality of teacher-prep programs affects student performance.

NCTQ president Kate Walsh, who lamented the group’s latest results, said inadequate teacher-prep programs across the country probably contributed to a flat batch of 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, released Tuesday.

“The flat scores on NAEP can likely trace their roots back to ongoing disconnect between the preparation teachers receive and what they need to know and be able to do in order to do their jobs well,” Walsh said of the nationwide test, often dubbed the “nation’s report card.”

State superintendent Sherri Ybarra on Tuesday expressed pleasure with Idaho’s NEAP scores, which fell largely in line with the national numbers.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

Devin was formerly a senior reporter and editor for Idaho Education News and now works for INL in communications.

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