How well are Missouri colleges preparing future teachers?

Jun 19, 2013

Credit jeremy.wilburn / Flickr

Each year, around 200,000 college graduates earn teaching degrees in the U.S. But the National Council on Teacher Quality released a report Tuesday explaining that colleges and universities are not doing enough to properly train future teachers. NCTQ is a Washington-based group that believes in fundamental education reforms. Of the 34 Missouri institutions included in its study, none received the highest score of four stars.

The University of Central Missouri only earned one star, but Nicole Dickens, who chairs the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education at UCM said she is skeptical of the validity of the study. But, she said that improvement is always possible and recently, UCM  increased the amount of student teaching required to graduate.

“Like a medical school model, where you would hope that your doctor didn’t wait until their last year of med school to start seeing patients, we’re putting our students out really early into the field,” Nickens said. “So I think that’s an area where we’re going to see a lot of improvement because our students are going to have a different level of comfort and experience.”

Missouri State University and Missouri S&T were the only Missouri schools to  receive three stars in the study. Missouri Baptist, Harris-Stowe State and Missouri Western State scored lowest in the study, with zero stars.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which certifies Missouri teachers, raised the bar for teachers-in-training last year by increasing GPA requirements and updating entrance exams.

“The standards that you set dictate the quality of educator that you’re going to have in the classroom and we know that teachers are the biggest component in higher student learning,” DESE spokesperson Sarah Potter said. “Once we get a quality teacher in the classroom we know that the students are going to learn even more, and that’s our ultimate goal.”