Seth Gutzwiller | Staff Writer | @sethgutz_seth
The National Council on Teacher Quality found that a majority of education institutions have lower grading standards for new teachers than they do for the students in other majors on the same campus, in a study called Easy As and What’s Behind Them. The council is concerned that because the grading standards are low, the quality of teachers entering the workforce will be low too. Studies show that students in kindergarten through twelfth grade tend to perform better academically when they have experienced teachers, rather than recently graduated teachers.
At UVU, students in the secondary education program are expected to maintain a B- or higher to continue in the program. According to UVU’s Institutional Research and Information, in the education program at UVU during the spring semester of 2014, 112 As were awarded to students and only 8 grades at or below an A- were awarded.
“UVU has one of the best education programs in the state of Utah,” said Chris Brower, a health education major at UVU. “UVU is the only university in the state that has a teaching methods class which involves twelve different teaching methods.” According to Brower, this is one of the many reasons why local school districts frequently hire new teachers from UVU.
One of the theories as to why students in the education programs have noticeably higher grades than any other major, is because they could be graded on completion. This may be the case at other universities, but is not the case at UVU.
“Though the assignments aren’t difficult, the workload is heavy,” said Brower. “There is a lot to do and we get points taken off of our lesson plans and other assignments when there are things we could have done better. I would also agree though that the work we do for grades is more difficult to grade than a biology or math test and it does rely on teacher judgment more than sheer results.”
Although Brower stated that the teachers in the education program are the best teachers he’s ever had, NCTQ found that more effective instructors is unrelated to the higher grades in education programs. According to the council, instructors in education programs rank lower on average than art, humanity and health instructors. The average grades for students in art, humanity and health are lower than the average grades for students in the education program even though their professors receive higher ratings.
The council suggests various methods that would improve the quality of teachers produced from education programs.
“Essentially, the remedy lies in limiting the scope of the assignments. Limiting assignment possibilities does not mean ‘dumbing down’ assignments,” said NCTQ in the study. The study used a football team as an example. If a football team wanted to successfully strategize for an upcoming game, the team would all watch film from an opponent and then discuss strategy, as opposed to everyone watching film from separate games, returning the next day to discuss strategy, and figuring out how to run the plays during the game.
Graphics credit: National Council on Teacher Quality