Colorado Christian University

News: Top Teacher Prep Program

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CCU School of Education Named Among Top Teacher Prep Programs

Colorado Christian University's undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program in the College of Undergraduate Studies has been named among the top in the country by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and policy organization, for strong training in classroom management strategies and high-quality clinical practice experiences. CCU was among only 17 elementary education programs in the country to earn an 'A' in both clinical practice and classroom management.

"We are honored by this news as a confirmation of the hard work and excellence we are committed to as a University," said Dr. Debora Scheffel, dean of the School of Education in the College of Undergraduate Studies. "The School of Education strives to equip future educators with the tools and resources they need to be successful in the classroom. I am proud of our faculty, staff, and students who have contributed to helping us earn this top ranking."

This month NCTQ released its 2020 Teacher Prep Review: Clinical Practice and Classroom Management. Colorado Christian University and the other top-performing programs are recognized for their strong clinical experience requirements, including calling for candidates to spend 10 or more weeks in an experienced teacher's classroom, with at least four days per week or the equivalent in the classroom each week; screening mentor teachers for mentorship skill and/or instructional effectiveness as measured by student learning, among other skills; and requiring program supervisors to give student teachers written feedback based on observations at least four times during the clinical practice experience.

The evidence for the importance of high-quality clinical experience is undeniable. A National Research Council report stated that clinical practice experience is one of three "aspects of preparation that have the highest potential for effects on outcomes for students," and recent research has found that having a high-quality clinical practice experience can mean a first-year teacher starts out as effective as a typical teacher in his or her third year.

Additionally, these top programs necessitate their aspiring elementary teachers demonstrate during student teaching, residency, or equivalent clinical practice their ability to implement all five classroom strategies, including (1) establishing rules and routines that set expectations for behavior; (2) maximizing learning time by managing time, class materials, and the physical setup of the classroom, and by promoting student engagement; (3) reinforcing positive behavior by using specific, meaningful praise and other forms of positive reinforcement; (4) redirecting off-task behavior through unobtrusive means that do not interrupt instruction and that prevent and manage such behavior, and (5) addressing serious misbehavior with consistent, respectful, and appropriate consequences.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has, at least for this year, reshaped much of what happens in schools, including clinical practice and classroom management training for aspiring teachers. Many states and teacher preparation programs have moved their clinical practice experiences online or abbreviated them, while essential classroom management strategies can't simply be converted to a remote teaching environment. However, the basic principles of quality clinical practice and classroom management still stand in spite of COVID, and are still critical to the success of aspiring teachers in their future careers.

"In previous editions of the Teacher Prep Review, the predominant approach to classroom management instruction by most programs was that establishing classroom rules and planning great lessons will prevent student misbehavior," observed NCTQ President Kate Walsh. "As any teacher can attest, engaging classes alone are seldom enough. We are heartened by the growing acknowledgment of the many benefits of building new teachers’ skills in these key strategies. And we hope that more programs will follow suit with quality clinical experiences, particularly in placing heavy emphasis on the selection of a mentor teacher."

Now in its fourth edition, the Teacher Prep Review assigns a team of experts to evaluate teacher preparation programs on their adherence to evidence-based classroom management strategies and their requirements that support quality clinical practice experiences.

Read the full NCTQ summary of findings, see all top-performing programs, and dig deeper into the methodology at www.nctq.org/2020TPRPractice and for more information on CCU visit ccu.edu.