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Southern University elementary teacher prep program named as one of top in the nation

Southern University and A&M College’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program has been named among the top in the country by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and policy organization, for strong commitment to quality clinical practice experiences aimed at preparing aspiring teachers for the realities of the classroom.

“These top programs are to be commended,” observed Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ. “Too many teacher prep programs struggle to make clinical practice a meaningful learning experience for aspiring teachers – especially when it comes to selecting effective mentor teachers, often due to lack of quality control by their partner school districts. The effort that these top programs have made to ensure alignment with their local districts so they can offer strong clinical experiences will have lasting positive impacts on their teacher candidates, and more importantly, their candidates’ future students.”


This month, NCTQ released its 2020 Teacher Prep Review: Clinical Practice and Classroom Management, which finds little national progress in the adoption of quality control metrics of clinical experiences (including student teaching and residencies), particularly in the process for selecting mentor teachers which is managed not only by teacher prep programs but also their partner school districts.


Southern’s program stands out as among only 33 traditional elementary programs that earned an A (of more than 1,100 evaluated) due to strong clinical experience requirements and serves as a model of excellence for others. These top-performing programs are recognized for:

  • Requiring candidates to spend 10 or more weeks in an experienced teacher’s classroom, including at least four days per week or the equivalent in the classroom each week
  • Screening mentor teachers for mentorship skill and/or instructional effectiveness as measured by student learning, among other skills
  • Requiring program supervisors to give student teachers written feedback based on

observations at least four times during the clinical practice experience


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.


Now in its fourth edition, the Teacher Prep Review assigns a team of experts to evaluate teacher preparation programs on three elements of clinical practice: 1) the length of the experience, 2) the frequency of observation and feedback from a program supervisor, and 3) that the program requires that mentor teachers are effective and have the skills needed to mentor another adult.


Read the full NCTQ summary of findings, see all top-performing programs, and dig deeper into the methodology at