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Who We Are

Path to Teach is provided by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a leading nonprofit and nonpartisan education policy organization.

The mission of the National Council on Teacher Quality is to ensure that every child in America has effective teachers. We work to improve the pathways into the profession so that every new teacher can walk into the classroom prepared and confident on day one.

Path to Teach methodology was developed by a non-partisan group of leading deans, professors and researchers.

Check out who's endorsed Path to Teach!

Our Approach

Path to Teach grades teacher preparation schools and programs according to standards created by public educators and endorsed by education experts nationally. These expectations - for what new teachers need to know and be able to do - reflect best available research and best practices from high performing states and nations.

Which teacher preparation programs are graded?

Most graded teacher preparation programs are at the undergraduate and graduate levels and prepare teachers to teach at the elementary and secondary level. Currently, over 2,300 elementary and secondary programs located in over 1,100 public and private colleges and universities across all 50 states have grades.
A limited number of special education programs are fully graded. In 2014, this includes 59 programs in 28 states and that number will almost triple in fall 2016.
Path to Teach has also started to include grades of alternative certification programs such as Teach For America and The New Teacher Project (TNTP). Keep in mind that these national programs will have a number of different letter grades, depending on the state they're in, as they each operate under different regulations. There are currently 85 such programs in the database and that number will grow by 100 percent in 2016.

What programs aren't graded?

Many institutions offer multiple programs for teaching the same grade level. Our goal is to grade at least one program at each level though often as many as two have grades. Specialty teaching areas, such as early childhood, art, music, health and physical education do not receive grades. Additionally, Path to Teach does not grade any of the programs housed in some institutions because they graduate fewer than 20 teachers each year. Those institutions are labeled "NG" with the comment, "This institution graduates too few teachers each year to be included."

What standards are used to grade programs?

We come at this issue from the perspective of public school educators. As a team of former teachers, we can all cite a long list of things we wish we had known before starting to teach. We also asked public school educators all over the country what they believe new teachers need to know and be able to do. We looked at all of the available education research as well as best practices from other countries and those states where students are high-performing. We consulted with individual experts and organizations in different areas of study. Since 2004, we have been developing, revising and piloting our standards and we will continue to do so as more is learned.

What data sources are used for grades?

The information used to determine grades comes from many different sources: admissions standards posted online, university course catalogs, course materials, required textbooks, class schedules, student assignments, graduate and employer surveys, student teaching handbooks, correspondence with school districts and even state laws. We ask institutions to offer materials to us or we collect what we need from students and faculty.

How are grades calculated?

A large team of over 50 analysts examines the collected material. In most cases, two analysts independently review a program to decide its scores on a particular standard. If they disagree, a third analyst reviews the analysis and makes a final decision.

Why are some programs not graded?

A program will not be graded if insufficient material was gathered to grade a program on the most important standards to issue an "overall" score for a program. Scores on some standards count more than others. The overall score determines the program's letter grade.  Programs are listed in Path to Teach search results in order of their overall score, from highest to lowest.  When there is not enough material on a program, we score what standards we can but do not issue an overall score or letter grade. You will see "NG" by these programs.
About two thirds of the largest teacher preparation programs in the country are graded.

Click on your desired degree program to see how we got our grades.

Admission Selectivity

For undergraduate programs, we look at the minimum GPA requirements for admission, the average GPA of students who are enrolled, any tests that might be required for admission and the overall selectivity of the institution in which the teacher prep program is housed. Satisfying the standard on any one of these criteria is sufficient.
For graduate programs, we look at GPA criteria (either a minimum or an average) and whether they require either the GRE or an audition for admission.
In general, programs that require a minimum GPA of 3.0 for admission or whose enrolled students have an average GPA of at least 3.3 will do well on this standard.

Content Knowledge

We first examine if a program requires its teacher candidates to complete an 18-semester credit hour concentration in a subject that is relevant to the elementary curriculum. We then dig deeper on individual subjects:

Math

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the topics that will be covered in each class, student assignments, textbooks and course catalogs to see if teacher candidates are taking courses and using textbooks that teach them about important math topics every elementary teacher needs to know: numbers and operations, algebra, geometry and data analysis. We also check to see if teacher candidates are required to take a course about how to teach math to children.

English

To grade programs on this standard, we look at course catalogs to determine if teacher candidates are required to take any courses about world literature, American literature, composition and children's literature.

Science

To grade programs on this standard, we examine course catalogs to determine if teacher candidates are required to take any coursework in biology, chemistry and physics/physical science/earth science. We determine if there is at least one required lab.

Social Studies

To grade programs on this standard, we examine course catalogs to determine if teacher candidates are required to take courses in early American history, modern American history/government, ancient world history, modern world history and geography.
Alternatively, programs can also meet this standard by testing their incoming teacher candidates on their knowledge across these subjects, waiving any course requirements when candidates have demonstrated that they already know the basic content for each subject.

Teaching Reading

To grade programs on this important standard, we look at the topics that will be covered by the professor in each class, student assignments and textbooks to see if programs teach candidates about the methods of reading instruction that are best supported by research and if they require teacher candidates to demonstrate what they have learned.

Student Teaching

To grade programs on this standard, we collect student teaching handbooks and agreements between programs and school districts to see how the cooperating teacher is identified and selected. We check to see that the student teacher is given regular feedback (five or more times during the semester).

Practice in an effective, high-needs school

To grade programs on this standard, we look at information from programs about the schools where their teacher candidates are placed for student teaching. We also collect information about the demographics and academic performance of these schools. We then compare programs in the same geographic area to determine which programs prioritize these kinds of student teaching placements. We want to make sure that student teachers witness firsthand not just high-poverty schools but schools that are successful, so that candidates can experience that all children, no matter what their background, can learn.

Classroom Management

To grade programs on this standard, we look at how student teachers are evaluated and assess if programs look for the student teacher to know specific, well-researched strategies for managing student behavior.

Assessing Classroom Learning

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the topics that will be covered by the professor in each class and student assignments to determine if programs teach candidates how to interpret and apply data from different kinds of tests. We also check to see if teacher candidates learn to create assessments that will accurately monitor student progress and evaluate what students have learned.

Rigor

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the brochures published by the university for graduation ceremonies. We check if the number of teacher candidates graduating with honors is roughly comparable to the number of all students in the institution graduating with honors.

Admission Selectivity

For undergraduate programs, we look at the minimum GPA requirements for admission, the average GPA of students who are enrolled, any tests that might be required for admission and the overall selectivity of the institution in which the teacher prep program is housed. Satisfying the standard on any one of these criteria is sufficient.
For graduate programs, we look at GPA criteria (either a minimum or an average) and whether they require either the GRE or an audition for admission.
In general, programs that require a minimum GPA of 3.0 for admission or whose enrolled students have an average GPA of at least 3.3 will do well on this standard.

Content Knowledge

Math

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the course requirements and testing requirements of the state to see if teacher candidates are required to either pass a rigorous mathematics test to obtain a teaching license or complete at least a 30-credit major in mathematics.

English

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the course requirements and the testing requirements of the state to see if teacher candidates are required to either pass a rigorous English test to obtain a teaching license or complete at least a 30-credit major in English.

Science

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the course requirements and testing requirements of the state to see if teacher candidates are required to pass a rigorous set of tests in each of the sciences (biology, chemistry, physics and earth science) that they will be certified to teach. In the absence of a licensing exam for certification in one specific subject (like biology), we look to see if teacher candidates are required to complete at least a 30-credit major in that single subject. In the absence of a licensing exam for multiple-subject certifications such as general science, we look to see if teacher candidates are required to complete two 15-credit minors in any of the subjects they will be certified to teach.

Social Studies

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the course requirements and testing requirements of the state to see if teacher candidates are required to pass a rigorous set of tests in each of the social sciences (history, government/political science, economics, psychology and geography) that they will be certified to teach. In the absence of a licensing exam for certification in one specific subject (like history), we look to see if teacher candidates are required to complete at least a 30-credit major in that single subject. In the absence of a licensing exam for multiple-subject certifications such as social studies, we look to see if teacher candidates are required to complete a history major or two 15-credit minors, one in history and one in any of the other subjects they will be certified to teach.

How to teach your subject area

To grade programs on this standard, we look at course catalogs and class schedules and assignments to see if teacher candidates are required to take a methods course that is specific to the subject they have chosen to teach and that offers the opportunity to practice instructional strategies.

How students learn

To grade programs on this standard, we collect the observation forms and lesson and unit planning forms used during student teaching to look at whether teacher candidates are required to practice strategies proven by research to help students learn and retain new material.

Student teaching

To grade programs on this standard, we collect student teaching handbooks and agreements between programs and school districts to see how the cooperating teacher is identified and selected. We check to see that the student teacher is given regular feedback (five or more times during the semester).

Practice in an effective, high-needs school

To grade programs on this standard, we look at information from programs about the schools where their teacher candidates are placed for student teaching. We also collect information about the demographics and academic performance of these schools. We then compare programs in the same geographic area to determine which programs prioritize these kinds of student teaching placements. We want to make sure that student teachers witness firsthand not just high-poverty schools but schools that are successful, so that candidates can experience that all children, no matter what their background, can learn.

Classroom management

To grade programs on this standard, we look at how student teachers are evaluated and assess if programs look for the student teacher to know specific, well-researched strategies for managing student behavior.

Assessing classroom learning

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the topics that will be covered by the professor in each class and student assignments to determine if programs teach candidates how to interpret and apply data from different kinds of tests. We also check to see if teacher candidates learn to create assessments that will accurately monitor student progress and evaluate what students have learned.

Rigor

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the brochures published by the university for graduation ceremonies. We check if the number of teacher candidates graduating with honors is roughly comparable to the number of all students in the institution graduating with honors.

Admission Selectivity

For undergraduate programs, we look at the minimum GPA requirements for admission, the average GPA of students who are enrolled, any tests that might be required for admission and the overall selectivity of the institution in which the teacher prep program is housed. Satisfying the standard on any one of these criteria is sufficient.
For graduate programs, we look at GPA criteria (either a minimum or an average) and whether they require either the GRE or an audition for admission.
In general, programs that require a minimum GPA of 3.0 for admission or whose enrolled students have an average GPA of at least 3.3 will do well on this standard.

Content Knowledge for Teaching Elementary Students

We first examine if a program requires its teacher candidates to complete an 18-semester credit hour concentration in a subject that is relevant to the elementary curriculum. We then dig deeper on individual subjects:

Math

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the topics that will be covered in each class, student assignments, textbooks and course catalogs to see if teacher candidates are taking courses and using textbooks that teach them about important math topics every elementary teacher needs to know: numbers and operations, algebra, geometry and data analysis. We also check to see if teacher candidates are required to take a course about how to teach math to children.

English

To grade programs on this standard, we look at course catalogs to determine if teacher candidates are required to take any courses about world literature, American literature, composition and children's literature.

Science

To grade programs on this standard, we examine course catalogs to determine if teacher candidates are required to take any coursework in biology, chemistry and physics/physical science/earth science. We determine if there is at least one required lab.

Social Studies

To grade programs on this standard, we examine course catalogs to determine if teacher candidates are required to take courses in early American history, modern American history/government, ancient world history, modern world history and geography.
Alternatively, programs can also meet this standard by testing their incoming teacher candidates on their knowledge across these subjects, waiving any course requirements when candidates have demonstrated that they already know the basic content for each subject.

Content Knowledge for Teaching Secondary Students

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the topics that will be covered by the professor in each class , course catalogs and state laws to see if teacher candidates are required to earn a minor in at least two of the following subject areas: English, mathematics, history, biology, chemistry or physics.

Teaching Reading

To grade programs on this important standard, we look at the topics that will be covered by the professor in each class, student assignments and textbooks to see if programs teach candidates about the methods of reading instruction that are best supported by research and if they require teacher candidates to demonstrate what they have learned.

Methods for teaching students with special needs

To grade programs on this standard, we look at course catalogs, the topics that will be covered by the professor in each class and assignments to see if programs require teacher candidates to take courses that focus on designing and adapting lessons for students with special needs and require assignments that ensure that they practice this skill.

Student teaching

To grade programs on this standard, we collect student teaching handbooks and agreements between programs and school districts to see how the cooperating teacher is identified and selected. We check to see that the student teacher is given regular feedback (five or more times during the semester).

Practice in an effective, high-needs school

To grade programs on this standard, we look at information from programs about the schools where their teacher candidates are placed for student teaching. We also collect information about the demographics and academic performance of these schools. We then compare programs in the same geographic area to determine which programs prioritize these kinds of student teaching placements. We want to make sure that student teachers witness firsthand not just high-poverty schools but schools that are successful, so that candidates can experience that all children, no matter what their background, can learn.

Classroom management

To grade programs on this standard, we look at how student teachers are evaluated and assess if programs look for the student teacher to know specific, well-researched strategies for managing student behavior.

Rigor

To grade programs on this standard, we look at the brochures published by the university for graduation ceremonies. We check if the number of teacher candidates graduating with honors is roughly comparable to the number of all students in the institution graduating with honors.