New Rankings Show FSU, UCF as Best in State for Teacher Prep

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: June 18, 2014 3:55 AM
Florida State University

Florida State University

Florida’s got a long way to go to make the mark for preparing its teachers for the classroom, according to an evaluation from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its second annual 2014 Teacher Prep Review on Tuesday, which carefully evaluates over 1,600 teacher preparation programs across the country to determine which programs create the best teachers.

Over 100 programs across the country received NCTQ’s “Top Ranked” status, the highest an institution can receive.

The bad news for Florida is, however, that none of its schools’ teaching programs earned such a ranking. In fact, 24 programs in the Sunshine State didn’t even receive a numeric rank because their performance was in the bottom half of the national sample.

“Given the high demand for teachers in such a highly populated state as Florida, it is indeed disappointing that we could not identify an exemplary program in the state. However, Florida is by no means unique,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. “The dearth of high-quality programs is a national problem that public school educators, state policymakers and advocates, working alongside higher education, must solve together.”

Most programs across the country earned less than 50 points on the NCTQ evaluation.

But the results weren’t entirely gloomy -- 10 of the state’s elementary and 15 secondary programs were strong enough to receive a national ranking, including Florida State University, which received the highest ranking elementary program, and the University of Central Florida, which received the highest ranking for secondary teaching programs in the state.

This is the second year UCF has received distinction for its secondary teacher prep program.

To evaluate elementary prep programs, NCTQ took a closer look at undergraduate and graduate course requirements, syllabi, as well as student-teaching contracts, to dole out scores to undergraduate and graduate teaching programs.

The report's findings indicate what some see as a growing problem in teacher prep -- the fact that many teachers don’t come from the “cream of the crop,” making creating effective teachers difficult. With the brightest minds entering the teaching field, creating the best teachers becomes substantially easier, according to NCTQ.

“Just like we want to have well-trained doctors taking care of patients, we need to have really well-trained teachers so our students can learn,” said managing director for Teacher Preparation Studies at NCTQ, Arthur McKee.

One of NCTQ’s goals in the Teacher Prep Review is to help guide teacher hopefuls on where to apply for college and graduate programs. In addition, the rankings aim to help principals and school districts make better hiring decisions based on an applicant’s teacher prep training.

Kate Walsh explained the results have forced many states to realize the real need to up their education game -- and several have done so by adopting the Common Core State Standards.

“Even in states which have chosen not to adopt CCSS -- though certainly most have -- most states have at least acknowledged the need for much higher learning standards,” she said. “We’re seeing an appalling neglect that the Common Core State Standards and their facsimile demand in higher education. We think it’s largely because higher ed has yet to take ownership for delivering teachers who can meet that need.”

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen. 

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