ISU’s College of Education gets poor ranking; school to appeal

2013-06-18T19:32:00Z 2013-06-18T20:08:10Z ISU’s College of Education gets poor ranking; school to appealBy Phyllis Coulter |

NORMAL — Illinois State University is strongly disputing the findings of a report released Tuesday that says the school isn’t preparing future teachers as well as it should.

The findings come from a survey of 2,400 teacher preparation programs at nearly 1,200 public and private universities across the country. It was conducted by the National Council of Teacher Quality and released by U.S. News & World Report magazine.

The council, a bipartisan group advocating education reform, contends most colleges that turn out the 200,000 new teachers annually fall below or barely meet acceptable standards.

“We completely disagree with the assessment and the ranking,” said Perry Schoon, ISU’s dean of the College of Education, who is troubled by how the ratings were determined. The university was given a narrow range of questions to answer, and from that the survey authors drew sweeping conclusions, he said.

“We welcome scrutiny; it just has to be credible scrutiny,” he said.

Schoon’s staff is appealing the council’s grade, finding errors in the report and looking to see if there are any helpful resources to be found within it.

The review covers education programs and their admission standards, training and value. The report, which drew immediate criticism from other universities, was designed to be provocative and urges leaders at teacher-training programs to be far more selective about whom they admit and to rethink what skills would-be educators need to be taught.

“Through an exhaustive and unprecedented examination of how these schools operate, the review finds they have become an industry of mediocrity, churning out first-year teachers with classroom management skills and content knowledge inadequate to thrive in classrooms” with an ever-increasing diversity of ethnic and socioeconomic students, the report’s authors wrote.

ISU received only 1½ stars out of four for its undergraduate program for future elementary school teachers, and only one of four stars in training undergraduate secondary teachers.

ISU staff and students contacting Schoon today were “astounded and upset” by the results, Schoon said.

“I’m quite surprised,” said Bloomington District 87 Superintendent Barry Reilly, who holds his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from ISU. He estimates that more than half his district’s teachers were educated at the nearby university.

District 87 has its own screening process to find teachers. When asked if this report would affect his hiring of teachers from ISU, he said “absolutely not.”

McLean County Unit 5 Superintendent Gary Niehaus said the Normal-based district also has a thorough screening process which includes a half-hour, on-camera interview for candidates.

“We’re hiring some of our best candidates” ever in recent years, and some are from ISU, said Niehaus.

ISU, which graduates about 1,000 teachers a year, recently ranked in the top 100 in U.S. News & World Report’s best graduate schools. Schoon said that report came from U.S. News & World Report’s own staff and included follow-up questions, but this report was outsourced to the National Council of Teacher Quality, which “has its own agenda.”

The NCTQ says its Teacher Prep Review follows well-documented methodology to ensure reliable data.

The report isn’t going to change the relationship Stanford-based Olympia school district has with ISU, said Superintendent Brad Hutchison. “I can only go from what I know. Our candidates from ISU are very good,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(46) Comments

  1. Sunchip318
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    Sunchip318 - June 20, 2013 6:54 pm
    Everyone who is complaining about not getting enough actual class time obviously hasn't gone through ISU's PDS program or done any research regarding the different student teaching programs the University offers. This is an amazing program that gives future teachers a full YEAR in the classroom with mentor teachers before having their own classroom and all pre-service teachers are encouraged to participate in it.
  2. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - June 20, 2013 11:21 am
    So, you're effectively endorsing the methodology of looking at a few syllabi to determine the effectiveness of an education program? Not to mention, these syllabi were only taken from the College of Education. Secondary education programs at ISU, and every other school in Illinois, are taught through the given subject's department, none of whom were asked for syllabi.
  3. ct
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    ct - June 20, 2013 3:25 am
    This is not unusual in any major, when you consider the professors interests are not exactly the same as the students.

    Teaching someone to fish, or preaching and developing new fishing methods that have little practical use like dynamite would be a good metaphor.

    There is also a sincere lack of getting graduates educated in a core science or english discipline. That would take a lot of fun out of things...
  4. ct
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    ct - June 20, 2013 3:20 am
    They awarded plenty of 3 star and above.

    Every school can't be awesome, this isn't the end of year elementary awards where everyone gets a ribbon for showing up.
  5. ct
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    ct - June 20, 2013 3:19 am

    Rather than focus on education of the students, then resort to defensive posture at all costs, keep those taxes coming, don't question what is going on here....
  6. ct
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    ct - June 20, 2013 3:18 am
    While that is mostly true, and sports programs at large universities more than fund themselves, many parts of the project get funneled through with tax dollars or student fees.

    Upkeep will all be taxes and student fees.
  7. ct
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    ct - June 20, 2013 3:14 am
    You have to remember, there are still students who have near zero computer skills, so the power point requirement is to catch those people.
  8. Euler 314
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    Euler 314 - June 19, 2013 8:10 pm
    The trees of the mountain bring their own destruction.
    The oil in the lamp burns itself.
    The cinnamon tree is edible, so it is cut down.
    The varnish tree is useful so it is cut apart.
    All know the advantage of being useful,
    but no one knows the advantage of being useless. Zhuangzi (364-290 BCE), "Transactions in the World of Men"

    Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good. [This good] seems different in different actions and arts; it is different in medicine, in strategy, and in the other arts likewise. What then is the good of each? Surely that for whose sake everything else is done. In medicine this is health, in strategy victory, in architecture a house, and in any other sphere something else, and in every action and pursuit the end.
    Aristotle (384-332 BCE), Nicomachean Ethics Book I

    Why does one pursue an education? A very short term answer is "to get a degree, then a good job." But to what purpose? To make money is the answer roughly 80% of college students gave.

    However, the liberal arts are often considered "useless" degrees by those who don't understand what "liberal" means in this sense. They're liberal in a sense that dates back to the fourth century Algerian philosopher Augustine:

    liberal: worthy of or suitable for a free person.

    An art is liberal, in this sense, when it prepares a person to be an active and responsible citizen, capable of participating articulately and reasonably in civic and political activities. In a pluralistic democracy like ours, where a multiplicity of cultures and beliefs sustains deep and persistent disagreements, active and responsible citizenship demands proficiency and patience for hearing others on their own terms; wisdom and compassion for fairly weighing and critically evaluating competing priorities; clarity and gracefulness for communicating and reasoning with those who do not share one's beliefs and values, as well as creativity and imagination in searches for compromise.

    The goals a student achieves in pursuing a liberal arts degree transcend the particular content of those degrees; they are goals which ought to be achieved by any active and responsible citizen. The skills one develops are skills necessary to actively participate in a democracy.

    Technical and vocational disciplines – engineering, nursing, business – make people useful to others for specialized purposes; but they do not make people better citizens. When one's primary aim is to acquire a specialized knowledge-base and skill-set, or just money, abilities associated with active and responsible citizenship are at best accidental side effects, at worst irrelevant distractions.
  9. observer123
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    observer123 - June 19, 2013 7:29 pm
    I could not agree more. Livetext has to be one of the dumbest things the education people at ISU every did. As an ISU graduate, I can say when I started they were talking about how great Livetext was and how good it would look when you send it to potential employers. Employers don't want to see some reflection paper you wrote as a sophomore in college. They don't care, Livetext was the epitome of busy work. Another idiotic thing they made us do was the ITPS steps in order to graduate. I graduated in 2010 and have been doing powerpoints since I was in 3rd grade, yet ISU makes it a requirement outside of regular coursework to show them that we know how to make a Power Point. There is definitely not enough work and really practical things at ISU, it's all about theory and Bloom's taxonomy and what not. Not to say those things aren't important, they have a place in education, but they just want to breeze through all that stuff and pump out another crop of teachers that have paid their 4+ years of tuition.
  10. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - June 19, 2013 7:16 pm
    Hopefully we taught someone a grammar lesson that will stick.
  11. Euler 314
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    Euler 314 - June 19, 2013 6:37 pm

    I for one appreciate all the effort teachers have undergone on my behalf, and wouldn't want to swap places for an instant. That's partly why I strongly disagree with tying student performance to teacher salaries. If we did that with politicians based on how their party hardliners behaved, they'd be out of jobs within a few months, if not sooner.

    I think Joel Shatzky said it best:


    1. "Charter hospitals" could certify "smart people" as qualified to begin practicing medicine without any prior experience in the field if they had had "some business background."

    2. Since a "doctor" can "doctor" anything, a cardiologist would be on staff at a hospital in place of a urologist when there was a shortage of urologists. The cardiologist could "learn on the job." Of course, a general practitioner could be used in the place of any specialist since such a doctor would have "general knowledge" of anything involving medicine.

    3. Whenever a doctor gave a patient a prescription, the patient's parents could come to the doctor's office demanding he or she change the prescription since the parents "knew better."

    4. Because of a shortage of doctors, Mayor Bloomberg (or any mayor) would institute a summer "crash course" in medicine for people who had no background in the field but "liked playing doctor" when they were little. Those who got through the six-week course would then be considered qualified to care for the most severely ill patients since no other doctors would want to do the job.

    5. Doctors would qualify for "permanent license" if they showed by their rates of patient survival that they were "improving their scores." In order to do so, doctors would only treat the healthiest patients and refuse to treat the sicker ones to keep their rates of successful treatment high.

    6. Many "Charter hospitals" would be established in which unlicensed doctors could practice the latest techniques on their patients, using the funds of public hospitals to subsidize them. Of course, only the healthiest patients, whose relatives cared enough about their condition to place them in a charter hospital would be admitted. Any patient exhibiting signs of serious illness would be immediately discharged and placed in a public hospital.

    7. The average longevity of a doctor's career would be considered "normal" if he or she practiced for no more than five years.

    8. If a hospital proved to have a poor "patient survival record," it would be closed down and three new hospitals would be created in the same building with nothing to do with each other but with three times as many bureaucrats running them.

    9. Any patient who entered a doctor's care when already terminally ill would be expected to make a full recovery -- or the doctor would be considered incompetent.

    10. A special program -- "Heal for America" -- would recruit students who graduated from the top colleges in the country but with no background in pre-medicine to "try to make a difference" by being placed in the most severely crowded and understaffed clinics and hospitals so they could know "what it feels like" to be a doctor, if only for a few years.

    11. The American Medical Association would be condemned by politicians and health "experts" for "protecting incompetent doctors" on the basis of mortality rates in high-risk neighborhoods and the organization would be disbanded as a "menace to public health."

  12. Euler 314
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    Euler 314 - June 19, 2013 6:23 pm
    That was exactly my point, moderndaycowboy.

    Far too many assume just what you pointed out, that the contraction for "should have" is misheard as a completely different word.

    Then, of course, there're errors such as "they're, their and there", and my *shudder* favorites "prolly" (sheer laziness) and "irregardless".

    Naturally, those are all from folks who are first in line at the "Learn to Speak English" screechfests, failing even basic English themselves.
  13. Jose
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    Jose - June 19, 2013 6:17 pm
    LOL @ Euler 314.

    Good point, unlike Jeffy's "feable" attempt at spelling.

  14. Report Abuse
    - June 19, 2013 5:31 pm
    I agree with you about some of the people in the education dept. I interact with with education students on a daily basis at ISU who ask me where to turn in required documents (such as TB tests/read results, Jumpstart interview results, DCFS background checks, fingerprinting, etc) even though I work in a different building at ISU and in a different department / division. It's pathetic that ISU's College of Education gives detailed instructions of what they need for requirements and where to turn it at, and the students are still asking people across campus for the answers (and then are dumbfounded when you can't respond since you don't work in the Education dept at DeGarmo).
  15. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - June 19, 2013 5:26 pm
    Nailed it!
  16. Report Abuse
    - June 19, 2013 5:26 pm
    What makes a grad assistant qualified to teach? Anyone with a Bachelor's can step into a classroom & "teach". With what colleges charge for tuition and fees, I want someone with more experience teaching & qualified in the field teaching the course. Since Grad Assistants are taking graduate level classes at the same time, how much can the focus on the undergraduate class they are teaching?
  17. Report Abuse
    - June 19, 2013 5:22 pm
    Quote: " ... because it is so popular, the College of Education has had to increase the minimum GPA needed to be considered for the program." ...... Once in the education program, you don't know if the student keeps up with the "entry" GPA requirement. Students can slack off on coursework once in the program......
  18. Nshape
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    Nshape - June 19, 2013 4:55 pm
    OHHH...another thing I thought of with this is accreditation....aka jumping through a bunch of BS hoops so the university looks good on paper and to stay nationally recognized. The two big ones I can remember were Livetext and "Realizing the democratic ideal." Livetext was where students had to submit busywork assignments that were supposed to become the golden ticket for dominating a job interview where the interviewer(s) could insert the CD and look at a candidate's work. Good idea IN THEORY (there we go again...), but interviewers have their own agenda (which is often better). The democratic ideal is nothing more than a feel-good philosophy that wasted precious time on reflection papers and lesson plans that focused on cultural diversity while neglecting the important practical necessities such as content, classroom management, and discipline. It shouldn't matter where you are from or who you are, it should go without saying that every kid is expected to work hard, learn the concepts, and behave appropriately.
  19. Nshape
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    Nshape - June 19, 2013 4:36 pm
    "Some of the densest most oblivious people I had met, were folks in charge of that place." YES!!! I remember joking with some of my classmates that when the profs talked about their philosophies, they thought their philosophies were fact. You were not allowed an alternate opinion despite knowing that their ideas had zero applicability where it mattered.
  20. earlyriser54
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    earlyriser54 - June 19, 2013 3:59 pm
    You should "have" known what you were talking about before making a feable attempt at humor.
  21. Ilstugirl14
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    Ilstugirl14 - June 19, 2013 3:46 pm
    Elementary Education is one of the most popular undergraduate programs at ISU, and because it is so popular, the College of Education has had to increase the minimum GPA needed to be considered for the program. If you're not so sure about that fact, then call the Office of Admissions and ask how many applicants were accepted into the university but denied into their first choice major. There ARE some very hardworking and talented individuals that are education majors. Education majors at ISU graduate with some of the highest GPAs out of everyone. Many think that's because their classes are just "easy" but in actuality they are being taught by teachers that KNOW HOW TO TEACH instead of a guy who has a lab and does his own research at the university and just has to teach on the side.

    However, when there is such a limited time for actual experience in the classroom, it is hard to develop skills that are necessary in order to be a successful teacher: classroom management, unit planning, et cetera.

    I think it is not the caliber of students or their college educators that need to be blamed, but the actual format of how an education degree is acquired. It would be much more practical for students to focus on an area of study that interests them as opposed to taking two years worth of general education classes. Perhaps that way, our future teachers could get some more knowledge and experience before they walk across the stage on graduation day.

  22. nnya
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    nnya - June 19, 2013 2:18 pm
    And most places that do donations don't want to tell the donors where their money _should_ go. If an alumni gives to a specific fund to bolster athletics, new buildings, scholarships, etc it would be very unethical to turn around and say "Well, we decided that it was better going somewhere else. And 'no' you don't get your money back". State Farm sure as heck would not have donated the new business building if ISU turned around and said "well, we decided we needed it for a library overhaul. Oopsie!"
  23. thoughts a million
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    thoughts a million - June 19, 2013 2:02 pm
    ISU has more full-time faculty than they do part-time faculty. Don't confuse the full-time Non-Tenure Track faculty with part-timers. Many of the NTT's do teach at other colleges because NTT wages are pretty low. And because ISU doesn't have many PhD programs, freshmen and sophomore courses are not taught by grad assistants like they are in the big research schools.
    Beside that, your post above bounces all over the place; you're also blaming students, technology, immaturity, motivation, and careers. Where did you go to school to learn such terrible paragraph structure?
  24. thoughts a million
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    thoughts a million - June 19, 2013 1:57 pm
    No student dollars are being used for the renovation; it is being paid for by donors and Foundation money. And yes, it is for looks! Schools - like it or not - are in the business of competing with each other. And a trashy looking school will have trouble recruiting high quality students.
  25. nnya
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    nnya - June 19, 2013 1:50 pm
    I dont know if adjuncting is that big a badthing. Plenty of them are professionals in the field and they can give the hands on teaching that prepares students for the actual profession. Subjects like nursing, social work, accounting, actuarial, information systems, ag, business, community health and actually a whole heck others probably do benefit from people in the field who actually DO the job as a profession come in and teach
  26. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - June 19, 2013 1:31 pm
    "Also, before choosing a career path, look at the jobs that are now available." Wow, that's probably the WORST career advice, ever. ISU has 860 full-time faculty members and 352 part-time. Many of the part-time faculty are working professionals in the field they are teaching. However, some of them do teach at ISU part-time and other schools part-time. "Adjunct-ing" is a nationwide problem, even at SIU-C.
  27. Smartone
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    Smartone - June 19, 2013 12:52 pm
    If you want full time professors and not just part-time instructors, look downstate to SIU-C. I am not joking, and it is not a party school like some think from the past. Many instructors at ISU also work part-time at our local community college. If you don't believe me, look in their directories under staffing. If you look at the students that are going into 4-year universities across the board, many are not prepared for their freshman year let alone upper class courses. Priorities of students are their phones, Facebook, and lack of true motivation in some instances. Also, before choosing a career path, look at the jobs that are now available. There are thousands of jobs for people with degrees in the right needed areas of study. Education jobs are getting cut in many states and the discipline at home and at schools makes a teacher's job difficult at best. If you want a true college education, look for schools with full-time instructors not just part-time. Universities costs thousands of dollars so do your own homework before committing where to attend.
  28. Audax Facio
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    Audax Facio - June 19, 2013 12:37 pm
    I worked there, in DeGarmo, for 3 years, and I am not surprised. Some of the densest most oblivious people I had met, were the folks in chrage of that place. That cant be good if they are the ones expect to pass on their knowledge and experience. Anecdotal evidence: I was in line for the vending machine and the gal in front of me was on her phone. She said "Like, um, like, um, like, um, like, um.." about 20 times in a row. I realized then, I do not want her, or her classmates, teaching my kid(s) someday. I also wanted to slap her. ISU isnt all bad. The Anthropology program is great!
  29. bertee
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    bertee - June 19, 2013 12:13 pm
    ISU recently publicly stated that the $27 million renovation to Hancock Stadium is for looks! It's their gateway for the parents driving down from Chicago! Pay attention to the emphasis that ISU has put on how the university looks and note the hundreds of millions of $ they are allocating to brick and mortar as the education suffers. ISU has long lost it's "gladly would he learn, and gladly teach" motto. It's now all about form, not function!
  30. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - June 19, 2013 11:51 am
    Really? Take a look at the departments that make up the membership of the senate:
    Not many from your so called "fluff" departments.
  31. Interested
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    Interested - June 19, 2013 11:17 am
    The thing is the academic senate is full of art, history, etc professors that push for increasing requirements for their fluff classes. Called job security, since people know they can't get jobs if they major in those fields.
  32. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - June 19, 2013 10:41 am
    Ah yes, because is SUCH a valid way to rate a university. It really is just you. You should probably read up on why ISU is separating from the Special Olympics. It's a good reason.
  33. ILeducator
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    ILeducator - June 19, 2013 10:11 am
    I was quite pleased with the preparation I received from ISU's College of Education. They have been very proactive in getting students ready for the ever-evolving environment of education. ISU is not reactionary at all and often have been revolutionary in the field of teacher preparation. They started exposing pre-service teachers into classrooms early into the program long before it was an expected mandate. When I entered the classroom for the first time, I was almost a celebrity for knowing and being able to execute methodologies that were innovative and effective. Some of the ideas I was incorporating into the classroom ten years ago are just now being implemented into the school! Thank you ISU! Also I have mentored several student teachers from various universities across Illinois and the ISU students are the most knowledgeable and prepared.

    The problem often is, for some universities, low entrance requirements into teacher education programs and over-saturation of the market. However, some of this has been addressed by raising the required GPA and Basic Skills Test score. Also, if the state would pay the school districts what they owe them, great teachers would not be getting dismissed due to budget cuts, thereby making it tougher for new graduates to find jobs.
  34. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - June 19, 2013 9:55 am
    "is flawed"
  35. parrot
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    parrot - June 19, 2013 9:34 am
    I have no idea how this rating agency works. ISNU was well-known for teacher preparation before it even became ISU. But for the local school districts to be blindly defending the program at ISU makes no sense either. This experience should give all concerned cause for reflection.
  36. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - June 19, 2013 9:03 am
    "Should of" is a mistake, and a common one. People hear the contraction "should've" and think it's "should of." Same for "could of" and "would of." They are contractions of "have."
  37. peni1234
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    peni1234 - June 19, 2013 8:56 am
    Sounds like the Ed dept could use a few less career academics and a few more guest professors who are actually teachers.
  38. Euler 314
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    Euler 314 - June 19, 2013 8:46 am
    Don't you mean he should "of" taken an English course?
  39. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - June 19, 2013 8:46 am
    This study if flawed in its methodology. Anyone who knows anything about research, knows this. This organization is also funded by the Pearson corporation, a for-profit company who makes billions on education. In other words, do a study, knock down education programs, provide the solution to improve them through Pearson products. Quite brilliant, really. That said, having worked with education programs at ISU for the past several years, I truly feel that a four-year program does not prepare students at all to be practicing teachers. They need more time in the classroom practicing their craft before having a classroom turned over to them as a professional. Just my 2 cents...
  40. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - June 19, 2013 8:40 am
    You should have taken an English course.
  41. Bloomguy
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    Bloomguy - June 19, 2013 7:58 am
    I'm sure the university would be happy making you take 6 years of classes and getting all that tuition money. How about rather then making you go for 6 years they take the radical approach of allowing you to focus on your major rather then take all these fluff classes. I was an IT major I really could have cared less about my history class, music, and film class I was required to take.
  42. Bloomguy
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    Bloomguy - June 19, 2013 7:56 am
    Well if their education program is anything like their IT program it is probably horrible. I took one class at ISU and the teacher was horrible. I actually talked one on one with the dean the material the instructor was doing in the class wasn't correct for that entry level of a class, and the instructor was no longer teaching that class. Granted I didn't get any of my money back even though the dean agreed. Universities have become more about football and basketball, and milking the students dry verse getting an education.
  43. Nshape
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    Nshape - June 18, 2013 11:03 pm
    With studies like this, you often get muddled/unreliable data. HOWEVER, now is as good of a time as ever for ISU and professors to re-evaluate what is TRULY important for future teachers to know as they send them off to student-teaching. I don't care about the theoretical mumbo jumbo on your curriculum vita and how you apply your research to what you teach college kids. In the REAL WORLD, classroom management, discipline, and content are king!! Those factors were grossly neglected in my ISU undergrad experience in lieu of theoretical practice that only 3% of schools utilize (all on the east coast, btw) and multicultural lesson plans. One professor was a self-proclaimed "multicultural radical" while another balked at having a course on discipline despite that being the #1 challenge that former graduates faced. I know some of you profs wanted to pound theory down our throats, but come on, teachers need to know how to handle: parents of kids created by immaculate conception, kids who taddle and twist stories, fights, talking out/talking back, what to do when a kid sent to the principal comes back 10 minutes later after a "pep talk", homework completion issues, procedures, what truly good unit looks like, how to make effective worksheets, etc. You can't sweep those real issues under the rug!! I had some cool profs at ISU that I had common interests with and were practical all day long, but they were not in Degarmo hall. I am a better teacher for surviving the many challenges I walked into my first few years, but it could have been slightly easier as college prep was of no help.
  44. turnerm83
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    turnerm83 - June 18, 2013 11:02 pm
    Honestly, I received a lot of pedagogical training but little to none practical training. In other words, I know what good teaching looks like... I just have little practice doing it. Someone believes that 3/4 of a semester of student teaching is enough practice for the real world. A teaching degree should ideally be 6 years with at a minimum of 1 year in a school classroom.
  45. bnguy81
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    bnguy81 - June 18, 2013 10:22 pm
    Plenty of opportunities for teachers.... if you want to move to California, Texas or some inner city. No thank you.
  46. observer123
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    observer123 - June 18, 2013 9:10 pm
    It's about time someone calls out the universities that pump out tons of teachers. Everyone wants to bash public education and blame the teachers for everything, I say it's about time we hold the universities accountable.
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