Last updated: June 17. 2014 11:25PM - 2255 Views
By - mguydish@timesleader.com

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Area colleges and universities generally got mediocre rankings in an annual review of teacher education programs released Tuesday, suggesting they do a so-so job of preparing teachers for the classroom.

But administrators from several local institutions have, in the past, questioned the validity of the review and refused to participate in it.

The National Council on Teacher Quality, which bills itself as “advocates for reforms in a broad range of teacher policies at the federal, state and local levels in order to increase the number of effective teachers,” released its “2014 Teacher Prep Review” Tuesday.

Luzerne County programs ranked in a range from a high of 98th nationally for Misericordia’s secondary education program to a low of 299th for Wilkes University’s elementary education program. NCTQ looked at 1,668 programs in 836 institutions nationwide. All local programs ranked were in the top half nationally, but didn’t earn a “top-ranked” rating from NCTQ.

But full comparisons among schools is arguably suspect because some schools participate by providing detailed information while others do not, leaving NCTQ to draw conclusions from the institution’s publicly available documents or from documents, such as syllabi, obtained through secondary sources.

Wilkes Interim School of Education Dean Rhonda A. Waskiewicz cited that problem in responding to the rankings, noting the school did not actively participate in the review and NCTQ still ranks non-cooperative programs “but preference is given to institutions of higher education who cooperated.”

The review looks at “admissions standards, course requirements, course syllabi, textbooks, capstone projects, student teaching manuals and graduate surveys, among other sources,” to help aspiring teachers “make informed choices about where to attend school to get the best training,” and to help superintendents and principals know where to look to “recruit new teachers” according to the NCTQ website.

Waskiewicz also noted the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education has criticized NCTQ for using “seriously flawed methods for data collection and analysis.”

Other regional rankings:

• Bloomsburg University’s special education program was ranked 16th, its secondary program ranked 32nd, and its undergraduate elementary program ranked 327th.

• King’s College’s elementary program ranked 144th.

• Marywood University’s elementary program ranked 117th.

• Wilkes University’s secondary program ranked 297th.

NCTQ cited “data insufficient to rank” for Bloomsburg’s graduate elementary program, King’s secondary program, Marywood’s graduate secondary program, Misericordia’s elementary program and the University of Scranton’s elementary and secondary programs.

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