Wheelock Student Teacher Program Cited as "Model"

July 25, 2011

Wheelock College was one of just 10 higher education institutions in the US lauded for its strong student teaching program in a new report released by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The report, based on a two-year study by the Council, described Wheelock's program as a "model" design because the college requires that mentor teachers are fully qualified and also actively participates in the selection of mentor teachers.

Noting that Wheelock is often recognized as a national leader in teacher education, Wheelock College President Jackie Jenkins-Scott said, "We are proud to be recognized by NCTQ as an exemplary institution with a model program."

The NCTQ report noted that student teaching serves as the real-world classroom trial for nearly 200,000 teacher candidates each year and cited surveys of new teachers that suggest student teaching is the most important part of their teacher training experience.

In an effort to understand what makes a student teaching experience strong, the Council conducted a two-year review of the student teaching programs at 134 higher education institutions across the US, looking at a variety of documents such as student-teaching handbooks and contracts between the programs and their partner school districts.

In its report, the Council concluded that only a small fraction of the nation's teacher-preparation programs do an adequate job of designing and overseeing their student-teaching field experiences. Most of these experiences are weak, the report said, because few teacher-preparation programs carefully select the mentor teachers who will work with the novice teachers. Too often, the report said, student teachers are simply thrown into whatever classroom happens to be convenient for the local principal.

According to the report only 14 percent of the programs in the study require mentor teachers to have all three of the following traits: at least three years of teaching experience, a demonstrated high ability to improve student learning, and demonstrated skill at mentoring adults. The report also said just under half of the teacher-preparation programs in the study exerted full control over the matching of student teachers with mentor teachers.

The report noted that the stakes in student teaching are high because teachers are being held to increasingly rigorous standards. It said teacher candidates deserve student teaching programs that prepare them, concluding that "While we certainly identified some exemplary institutions, this review suggests that all too often, too many elements of student teaching are left to chance."

Read the full report.

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