Longmeadow, Massachusetts—Bay Path University’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program has been named among the top in the country by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and policy organization, for strong training in classroom management strategies and high-quality clinical practice experiences.
Bay Path’s program stands out as among only 17 elementary programs in the country that earned an ‘A’ from NCTQ in both clinical practice and classroom management, and serves as a model of excellence for others. The top performing programs were recognized for their strong clinical experience requirements, including having candidates spend ten or more weeks in an experienced teacher’s classroom; ensuring that the skill levels and/or instructional effectiveness of mentor teachers, and requiring written feedback from program supervisors on their observations of student teachers.
The evidence for the importance of high-quality clinical experience is undeniable. A National Research Council report said that clinical practice experience is one of three “aspects of preparation that have the highest potential for effects on outcomes for students,” and recent research has found that having a high-quality clinical practice experience can mean a first-year teacher starts out as effective as a typical teacher in her third year.
“One of the most challenging pieces of educator preparation is teaching classroom management to undergraduate students, who are learning about pedagogy and real world experience,” says Dr. Ellen Rustico, Chair of Education Programs and Director of Teacher Licensure at Bay Path.
“Classroom management is not only taught through coursework, but most importantly learned through classroom experience and interaction with children,” Dr. Rustico explains. “These skills begin with educator preparation coursework, and then must be applied and practiced. The clinical piece does not happen without the strong support of education faculty, as well as mentor teachers in the public schools.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states and teacher preparation programs have been forced to adjust their clinical practice experiences. With teachers running their “classrooms” remotely and teaching to a screen of homebound students, a deeper understanding of the importance of classroom management and the skills necessary to engage students has emerged.
The basic principles of quality clinical practice and classroom management still stand in spite of COVID, and are still critical to the success of aspiring teachers in their future careers. “We are heartened by the growing acknowledgment of the many benefits of building new teachers’ skills in these key strategies,” stated NCTQ President Kate Walsh. And we hope that more programs will follow suit with quality clinical experiences, particularly in placing heavy emphasis on the selection of a mentor teacher.”
Read the full NCTQ summary of findings, see all top-performing programs, and dig deeper into the methodology at www.nctq.org/2020TPRPractice