Report: Teacher Prep Courses Easier Than Other College Majors

Teacher candidates are significantly more likely to graduate with honors than other students owing to less rigorous coursework in teacher preparation programs, according to a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

The report, "Easy A's and What's Behind Them," is the latest in a series of reports by NCTQ about teacher preparation. According to a news release from NCTQ, "these courses send too many graduates into the classroom woefully unprepared, thus diminishing the value of their investment in preparation."

The NCTQ examined graduation data for students at 509 institutions and found that on average 44 percent of teacher candidates graduate with honors compared to only 30 percent of other graduates. According to NCTQ, education majors are getting higher marks because their courses include far more "criterion-deficient" assignments than "criterion-referenced" assignments.

The NCTQ defines criterion-deficient assignments as those that are more subjective in nature and "do not require demonstration or mastery of particular knowledge or skills." Criterion-referenced assignments are defined as those that are more objective in nature and require demonstration of specific knowledge and skills "with an understanding that some strategies are more effective than others in the classroom." The NCTQ found that criterion-deficient assignments accounted for 71 percent of the grade in teacher preparation courses, on average, whereas those types of assignments accounted for only 34 percent of the grade in other courses.

Key findings from the report:

  • 58 percent of educational institutions analysed are much more likely to confer high grades for teacher preparation majors than are other majors on the same campus;
  • Teacher preparation majors are more likely than other majors to award high grades;
  • Courses with a higher percentage of criterion-deficient assignments correlate with higher course grades;
  • Criterion-deficient assignments are more common in teacher preparation courses; and
  • Criterion-deficient assignments fail to provide teacher candidates with the knowledge and skills they need to plan and deliver effective instruction.

The full report, "Easy A's and What's Behind Them," is available as a free PDF download from the NCTQ's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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