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GA’s teacher prep programs disconnected from reality of teaching

GA teacher prep programs have a disconnect between preparation of teachers with the real world classroom demands.

According to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), the latest rating on Georgia’s teacher preparation programs highlight a disconnect between preparation of teachers with the real world of classroom demands. The lack of preparation may contribute to the flat NAEP results (the Nation’s Report card) in Georgia and nationwide. 

The NCTQ, one of the nation’s leading authorities on teacher education programs, releases their latest ratings for teacher preparation programs.  NCTQ reviewed traditional graduate and alternative route programs preparing either elementary or secondary teachers, including 15 traditional graduate programs and two alternative route programs based in Georgia.

“By better aligning teacher preparation with the real demands of teaching, Georgia’s teacher prep programs could play a major role in boosting the quality of new teachers in the state and improving learning in schools. What a privilege and opportunity this represents,” commented Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on
Teacher Quality. “As the new NAEP results suggest, the status quo in training teachers is simply insufficient for our students’ needs.”

“The flat scores on NAEP can likely trace their roots back to ongoing disconnect between the preparation teachers receive and what they need to know and be able to do in order to do their jobs well,” said Walsh

Teacher Prep Review results for Georgia –

Highest ranked elementary programs (national percentile out of 194 programs):
● Mercer University (60th)
● Augusta University (53rd)
Highest ranked secondary (middle/high) programs (national percentile out of 406 programs):
● Berry College (87th)
● Brenau University (87th)
● University of Georgia (84th)
● Clayton State University (79th)
● Augusta University (77th)
● Mercer University (75th)

Programs earn top marks for having strong admission criteria and providing candidates with both the content knowledge and instructional techniques needed to enter the classroom ready to teach. The best programs do more to instill classroom management skills and systematically provide high-quality practice opportunities.

According to an NCTQ release about Georgia, the following are key findings about the state’s elementary and secondary teacher preparations.

Key Findings for Georgia

Elementary –
● Programs’ preparation of elementary teachers is uneven.

  •  One of the two elementary programs reviewed, Mercer University, provides basic instruction in how to teach young children to read. In the national sample, 23 percent do so.
  • None of the elementary programs reviewed attend to the specific math content elementary teachers need. Nationally, just 1 percent of programs provide such content, under the mistaken impression that elementary mathematics does not require specialized coursework.
  • Programs either presume subject matter knowledge in science and social studies or discount its importance, as none of the programs reviewed in Georgia adequately screen elementary candidates for content knowledge in these subjects. Eighteen percent do so nationally.

High school teacher preparation is better, though the results are still mixed.

  • Programs offering general science certification, which permits teachers to teach multiple science subjects, struggle to adequately screen candidates or require the necessary coursework. None of the five programs with general science certification ensure teachers hold the necessary content knowledge.
  • Twenty-five percent of programs do so nationally.
  • Georgia effectively ensures adequate content knowledge for all social studies teachers through state policy that limits social studies certifications to individual subjects such as biology, instead of allowing teachers to obtain a general certification that allows them to teach all sciences.
  • All high school teachers should take a course in the best ways to teach their specific subject.
  • With 77 percent of programs requiring such coursework, Georgia slightly exceeds the national rate of 70 percent.

With all the emphasis on providing teacher candidates with more and better practice, of the 17 Georgia programs evaluated only Berry College pays sufficient attention to basic indicators of quality such as the teaching skills of the classroom mentor and providing regular observations and feedback to each candidate. The national average in this area is 6 percent. The need to build classroom management skills is similarly overlooked, with only Augusta University’s programs (15 percent of Georgia programs evaluated, the same as the national rate) adequately verifying the competency of candidates.

According to the NCTQ, Georgia needs to improve the preparation of the elementary teachers to be ready to teach math and reading. Content knowledge in key areas is critical in the core content areas and remediation is needed all levels of teaching. Teacher preparation programs should better maximize student teaching and internships to give targeted feedback on specific classroom management strategies.

Performance of Georgia’s teacher prep. programs that were included in the NCTQ analysis.

Institution Program Rank
Georgia College and State University Elementary (UG) 92%
University of Georgia Elementary (UG) 89%
Covenant College Elementary (UG) 79%
Georgia Southwestern State University Elementary (UG) 76%
University of West Georgia Elementary (UG) 76%
Mercer University Elementary (UG) 70%
Augusta University Elementary (UG) 68%
Armstrong State University Elementary (UG) 66%
Georgia Southern University Elementary (UG) 60%
Columbus State University Elementary (UG) 45%
Emmanuel College Elementary (UG) 45%
Georgia State University Elementary (UG) 45%
Reinhardt University Elementary (UG) 38%
Valdosta State University Elementary (UG) 38%
Brenau University Elementary (UG) 34%
Brewton-Parker College Elementary (UG) 34%
Piedmont College Elementary (UG) 34%
Wesleyan College Elementary (UG) 29%
Middle Georgia State University Elementary (UG) 23%
Shorter University Elementary (UG) 15%
Clark Atlanta University Elementary (UG) 8%
Thomas University Elementary (UG) 8%
Dalton State College Elementary (UG) 7%
University of North Georgia (Gainesville State) Elementary (UG) 4%
Albany State University Elementary (UG) 4%
Toccoa Falls College Elementary (UG)
Mercer University Elementary (G) 60%
Augusta University Elementary (G) 53%
University of Georgia Elementary (G)
University of Georgia Secondary (UG) 81%
Piedmont College Secondary (UG) 67%
Augusta University Secondary (UG) 64%
Gordon State College Secondary (UG) 46%
Middle Georgia State University Secondary (UG) 28%
Clayton State University Secondary (UG) 20%
Albany State University Secondary (UG)
Emmanuel College Secondary (UG)
Georgia Southwestern State University Secondary (UG)
Reinhardt University Secondary (UG)
Shorter University Secondary (UG)
Thomas University Secondary (UG)
Toccoa Falls College Secondary (UG)
Berry College Secondary (G) 87%
Brenau University Secondary (G) 87%
University of Georgia Secondary (G) 84%
Clayton State University Secondary (G) 79%
Augusta University Secondary (G) 77%
Mercer University Secondary (G) 75%
Valdosta State University Secondary (G) 72%
Georgia College and State University Secondary (G) 68%
Georgia State University Secondary (G) 65%
Georgia Southern University Secondary (G) 62%
Covenant College Secondary (G) 55%
Clayton County Public Schools: Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (TAPP) Secondary (G) 53%
DeKalb County School District: Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (TAPP) Secondary (G) 29%
Clark Atlanta University Secondary (G)
Valdosta State University Special Ed (G)
Data insufficient to rank



Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. Jeremy has lived in Camden County for over 17 years.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    K Wilson

    April 19, 2018 at 6:41 am

    Georgia effectively ensures adequate content knowledge for all social studies teachers through state policy that limits social studies certifications to individual subjects such as biology, instead of allowing teachers to obtain a general certification that allows them to teach all

    Why does this begin with social studies, then switch to biology?

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