Did You Know? The Uneven Performance of UNC Education Schools

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) rates teacher education programs on how well they teach different subjects such as science, social science, and content knowledge. As Shannon Watkins describes, most public North Carolina education programs do a poor job teaching the future educators of the state.

And education schools at University of North Carolina schools are all over the map; for high-school level science and social science, 10 of their graduate programs earn Fs and the other eight earn As. For elementary-school level content, East Carolina University and UNC-Charlotte, which focus their graduate programs on elementary school preparation, both received Fs.

The problem of graduate programs doesn’t appear to extend to undergraduate preparation, however. The undergraduate education programs at UNC schools for high school fared well in science and social science, with poor marks only at UNC-Charlotte. But teacher preparation for elementary schools is an issue. Only Fayetteville State University and North Carolina A&T earned a B and C, respectively—most undergraduate institutions received an F.

Shannon Watkins offered some explanations for the problem:

The NCTQ recommends that North Carolina’s teacher education programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0 or limit admission to “those who have scored in the top half of all college-going students on tests of academic proficiency.” Right now, none of UNC’s schools of education require a 3.0 GPA, and the required testing scores often are not specified.

As important as high admissions standards for teachers are, even more pressing is what they learn once admitted. It might seem obvious that, in order to really be effective, teachers need to have a solid basic understanding of American history, literature, science, and mathematics.

Education schools need to raise their admission standards and make sure that students can teach basic subjects at a high standard in their future classrooms.

If education schools fail to meet minimum education standards, reform is necessary. The purpose of education schools is to make sure future educators know how to teach basic subjects, not to teach politicized programs.

David Waugh is a Martin Center intern. He studies economics at Hampden-Sydney College.