State Teacher Education Programs to be Graded
Teacher education programs at NMU and other state schools will receive annual report cards from the Michigan Board of Education in a measure unanimously approved by the board last week. Areas to be graded include graduates passing the teacher certification test, programs, students graduating in six years, and recruitment of minority students. Failing grades could result in help from the Department of Education or adverse impacts on federal funding and certification.
“We will continue the excellent programs we have while paying more attention to the grading criteria to make sure we are addressing them satisfactorily,” said Rodney Clarken (Education, pictured). “It will give us added incentive to address areas where we have tried to make improvements in the past, such as increasing the number of students from culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds. To receive full points in this criterion, NMU’s teacher preparation program will need to have 10 percent or more minority candidates, whereas it currently has less than 3 percent. ...
"NMU will not get a failing grade. In fact, we should be near the top of the high-scoring institutions throughout Michigan just as we currently are in the ranking of percent pass rate on the Michigan Test of Teacher Certification (MTTC).”
The statewide grading initiative will be phased in over three years. Clarken said NMU will not fare as well this first cycle because of a newly instituted Michigan Department of Education survey.
“We were not informed until after the fact that we would be graded on our students’ response rate to this survey. Therefore, we will not be able to achieve the 80 percent response level the board has retroactively set for full points for the 2005-2006 year, though I am confident our students will rate our program high in its preparing them well to meet the Entry-Level Standards for Michigan Teachers.”
Clarken said the accountability and standards movement is a national trend in education that had previously been applied to K-12 schools through “No Child Left Behind” and other endeavors.
“We have been expecting that it would be coming to teacher education programs, as they are the entities responsible for preparing qualified teachers,” he said. “I am very much in favor of accountability and high standards, and I believe that the education program at NMU has both.