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Report Says UVa's Education of Educators is Poor, Dean Disagrees

June 18, 2013

The National Council on Teacher Quality has put out a report on the quality of teacher preparation education at U.S. colleges and universities. For the University of Virginia, that report is not good.

According to the report, less than 10% of the 1,200 programs rated received 3 stars or higher out of 4 stars. UVa received 1 1/2 stars for both graduate elementary and graduate secondary teacher preparation programs.

"From our perspective and from my perspective, I'm quite confident we're more than a one-star program," says Dean Robert Pianta from the Curry School of Education at Uva.

He disagrees with the low rating given by the NCTQ, saying it does not factor in enough 'real world' criteria.

"As a document review, it just says what's on paper. It doesn't say...what are they able to do and know when they go in the classroom," says Dean Pianta. "All of the the indicators are that our graduates are doing really well on that score."

The report by the NCTQ is contrasted by a report put out by the U.S. News and World Report, ranking UVa as 7th in the nation for elementary education, 9th for secondary education, and 11th for curriculum and instruction.

Dean Pianta says the Curry School of Education is top-notch for a number of different reasons, not measurable by the NCTQ report.

"We regularly engage our partners in the local school system around the quality of our student teachers who go out into the local systems. We regularly survey the employers and superintendents across the state who are eager to hire our graduates," he said. "I think all of our indicators from those kind of relationships are that our graduates are really sought after and our relationships with our local school partners are really strong."

However, the report by the NCTQ is worth taking a second look at.

"We also need to spend some time looking at whether the survey does identify some gaps we might want to pay attention to," said Dean Pianta.

"As a field, we have to do a better job of developing good assessments of what teachers know and do, and we're working on those things. A person considering coming to UVa is going to get exposed to a very rich program in teacher preparation that's addressing the contemporary issues that we face."

The NTCQ uses syllabi, curriculi, and the admissions process as some of its metrics for deciding the rating of a educational program. The report gives the state of Virginia a C- rating for its teacher preparation policies.

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