Future Educators in Virginia May Not Be Prepared To Teach

By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email
By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email

HARRISONBURG -- A new study suggests that some Virginia universities aren't preparing future educators for the classroom.

The study conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality surveyed 29 Virginia universities on their teacher preparation programs, assigning them each with stars.

The ratings averaged out to be a below-average grade.

Four stars means that future educators studying at a university will be adequately prepared. Zero stars means they won't.

James Madison University earned two and a half stars, which lands it in between. It's not just JMU being ranked, it's the entire state.

According to the advocacy group, teacher preparation programs in Virginia get a C-.

"We work very closely with JMU, Bridgewater and Eastern Mennonite University. My experiences would say that..that grade doesn't really reflect what we see. If I had to give a grade, it would definitely be higher than a C-," said Scott Kizner, Superintendent of Harrisonburg Schools.

One of the highlights of the review is that they say that 81 percent of teacher preparation programs fails to offer students a high quality teaching experience.

"You try to put a grade or a rating or a ranking, it's got to be valid and reliable. These grades and rankings are meaningless," said Phillip Wishon, dean of JMU's College of Education.

He says future educators from JMU are well prepared.

"We want them to have the knowledge and the skills to be able to plan effective lessons that help children achieve in the basic skills as well as in the history and the sciences and the social studies," said Wishon.

Although he disagrees with many of the points made in the review, Wishon does see some positives.

"What I like about the study are the study are the standards that they used," said Wishon.

Standards like academic caliber in selecting students for universities, preparing elementary teachers to improve their student's reading skills and assessing learning in classrooms.

In order for the Virginia universities to improve their grades and future educators, those are the things they will work on.

The Virginia Board of Education's spokesperson says the organization will soon review regulations governing teacher preparation programs.

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