UMBC gets high marks for student teacher training programs

A national study on the quality of student teaching at schools of education ranks two of the three programs examined in Maryland as weak.

The National Council on Teacher Quality, which ranked a random sample of three institutions in each state, gave Mount St. Mary's University and Salisbury University "weak" ratings and University of Maryland, Baltimore County a rating of "good."


The council spent two years working on the study, which looks at the student teaching experience at 134 institutions of higher education. The rating was based on factors that include whether the teachers who train the college students in their classrooms during student teaching are good teachers themselves, whether the teachers are selected in part by the school of education rather than a school's principal, and whether there is mentoring during the internship.

Mount St. Mary's and Salisbury disputed the report Wednesday.


"Mount St. Mary's University offers an exemplary elementary education program with rigorous clinical application and holds accreditation through National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education," Barbara Palmer, dean of the school of education at the university, said in an email.

Diane Allen, Salisbury's provost, said that nine of the state's 24 teachers of the year in 2011 graduated from Salisbury and that the university has had a strong teacher education program. "We have serious concerns with the methodology in the survey and do not think it accurately reflects the achievements of SU's teacher education program," she said in an email.

The report recommends that public school systems limit the number of student teachers they allow in their classrooms to improve the quality of graduates.

"The takeaway is that [the schools of education] are flooding the marketplace" and producing too many elementary school teachers each year for the need, said Kate Walsh, president of the council and a Maryland state school board member.

About half of all graduates who major in education don't end up becoming teachers.

"It is clear that a lot of people go into teaching schools with no intention of teaching," Walsh said. Therefore, the quality of training suffers because school districts don't have enough good teachers willing to train student teachers, the report says.

The council also found that many states, including Maryland, do not specify a length of time for student teaching. Ten weeks is often considered a minimum.

The report is part of a much larger study by the council that was boycotted by colleges of education around the nation. That report is due out next year and will include a broader examination of the quality of schools of education.