While the Common Core State Standards are meant to help raise the quality of education in the U.S., teachers are perhaps the most important factor in student success. A good educator can inspire their class and help struggling students improve their grades. While it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what defines an exceptional teacher, many people have worked with one – you may recall that one teacher who made a difference in your educational trajectory. However, if college doesn't prepare people for a teaching role, educators may not make such a profound difference in the lives of their students. Unfortunately, a study conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) revealed that universities aren't sending prepared teachers into the workforce. The study also called for an improvement in the way colleges train future teachers.
Where universities fall short
The study evaluated schools on the fundamentals that make up a good teaching program. The NCTQ outlines what teachers need to learn in order to properly educate students, and only 17 percent of evaluated schools met those standards for reading instruction. Furthermore, 75 percent of higher education teaching programs don't require applicants to be in the top half of their class in order to enter the school. But the problem doesn't only lie in college courses – the study noted that almost half of elementary schools don't properly screen potential hires to ensure they are qualified to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.
The NCTQ study also ranked schools based on how well they train teachers. Of the 1,668 evaluated programs, which are offered at 836 higher education institutions, 26 elementary programs and 81 secondary programs were labeled as the best.
Making changes in education programs
The study's bleak outlook highlighted the need for colleges to improve their selection and training methods and for schools to heavily vet potential employees. The NCTQ offers schools a list of top-ranked teacher preparation programs in order to promote the recruitment of well-trained teachers. Additionally, according to NPR, the Obama administration hopes to put pressure on states to evaluate teacher prep programs. The push would also provide a financial incentive to schools that produce qualified and quality teachers.
Students working their way toward an education degree have the added challenge of learning to meet the Common Core State Standards. The lessons they create should not only be full of challenging content, but help students reach Common Core grade goals.