Rivier, Keene State get low grades for preparing teachers

Schools refute findings by national organization

NASHUA – Rivier University and Keene State College received poor marks in a report released this week on colleges and universities that train future teachers.

“They don’t do very well in any area,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality.

The NCTQ’s report on schools throughout the country shows that the quality of education and preparation for people entering the teaching field varies widely from state to state, as there are no set national standards for teaching students.

“It’s a poorly governed field with a lot of uneven quality,” Walsh said.

The National Council on Teacher Quality is a Washington D.C.-based advocacy organization focused on bringing up the teaching standards to improve education throughout the country. Walsh said her organization has been issuing reports on teaching schools for 15 years. According to this year’s report, Rivier and Keene State scored in the bottom quarter of all schools nationally.

At Rivier and Keene State, the NCTQ’s report found that the schools struggle on several issues in preparing people to be high school teachers, according to Walsh. The schools are too lenient in admitting students into the teaching program, they do not require that prospective teachers have college majors in the course they plan to teach, and the schools do not provide adequate oversight of the student teachers when they get into the classroom.

“Student teaching is where they struggle the most,” Walsh said.

She said the schools do not have strong standards, and do not make sure the student teachers are paired with experienced and strong teachers.

John Gleason, Rivier’s dean of education, said the NCTQ is not an accrediting agency and does not have any standing when it comes to the university’s programs. He said Rivier meets all standards set in New Hampshire, and that Rivier students are recognized for their preparedness going out into the teaching field.

“We have a curriculum focused on human growth and development, the theory and nature of learning, and positive psychology that has made our program graduates attractive teachers for local and regional school districts,” Gleason said. “Often, our graduates are requested prior to graduation because of the curriculum and the field experiences.”

Kelly Ricaurte, Keene State’s communications director, released a statement on Thursday refuting the report. She said the college is already accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and that it has full approval from the New Hampshire State Board of Education for its teaching program.

“The methodologies of these two accrediting bodies are thorough, up to date and rigorous, and are the true standards by which programs in our state are evaluated,” Ricaurte said in the statement.

Nicole Heimarck, with the New Hampshire Department of Education, said the state will look at the NCTQ’s report with an eye to making improvements to teacher preparedness.

“Much research points to the importance of quality educators supporting students in reaching excellent learning outcomes,” Heimarck said. “We will work with NCTQ, review their report and continue our collaboration with our educator preparation programs in providing quality programming that trains high-quality New Hampshire educators for our state’s schools.”