New report finds Washington state’s teacher training schools are among worst in the nation

Jun 20, 2023

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) just released a new report that evaluates 700 teacher training programs in states across the country.  The report assesses the performance of state-level programs in training instructors on how to teach children to read.

Washington state’s programs did not fare well, ranking among the worst in the nation in providing qualified teachers for public schools.

Only one program received an “A”, and only a single program rated a “B”.   Both were earned by WSU for its undergraduate and graduate teacher-training programs, respectively.  Meanwhile, fully two-thirds of the programs, eight out of 12, ranked “F”, and the two remaining programs rated a “C”.

Here are the full NCTQ scores for Washington state.

Central Washington University, UndergraduateC
Centralia College, UndergraduateF
City University of Seattle, UndergraduateF
City University of Seattle, GraduateF
Eastern Washington University, UndergraduateC
Eastern Washington University, GraduateF
University of Washington—Bothell, GraduateF
University of Washington—Seattle, GraduateF
University of Washington --- Tacoma, GraduateF
Washington State University, UndergraduateA
Washington State University, GraduateB
Western Washington UniversityF

These failures do the most harm to vulnerable student groups. On the 2022 NAEP 4th grade reading test, only 16 percent of Hispanic students, 25 percent of Black students, six percent of English Language Learners and 16 percent students with disabilities read at proficiency levels.

State law requires that people wanting to teach in public schools complete one of these programs.  Except for those attending WSU this mandate is clearly not working.  The latest National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores show only 34% of Washington public school student can read proficiently.

At the same time the mandate does not apply to private schools, which are free to hire any qualified person as an instructor without restriction.  Similarly, homeschooled students have access to any qualified instructors as arranged by their parents, including the parents themselves.

The poor quality of training at Washington’s formal Schools of Education is unlikely to change.  Teacher training programs are an integral part of the public education monopoly, and protecting it is a top priority for powerful WEA union and their political allies.  In fact, the hardliners are driving families to avoid public education altogether.

Already this year lawmakers in five states have enacted universal school choice, bringing the total to seven states that give parents direct access to funding to pay for alternatives like online or private school tuition.*

Four million public school students are now newly eligible for publicly-funded educational choice.  The Arizona program provides $7,000 per child, and applications have exploded since the law passed in 2022.  Iowa lawmakers passed a school choice law in January, and already 17,520 students have applied to receive up to $7,600 each.

Washington’s persistent poor teacher quality, low academic achievement and the advancements made by other states are powerful incentives for more families to pull out of the public system.  After all, why risk a child’s future on a teacher from a training program that’s getting an “F” in reading instruction, when lawmakers in other states are actually helping parents educate their children.

* Arizona, West Virginia, Iowa, Utah, Arkansas, Florida and Oklahoma.