Western Carolina University’s College of Education and Allied Professions is ranked among the nation’s top teacher preparation programs in early reader instruction by the National Council on Teacher Quality in rankings released recently.
The nonprofit research and policy organization group awarded an “A” to WCU’s bachelor of science degree program in elementary education for preparing graduates to teach reading to elementary school students. The results were announced in the 2020 Teacher Prep Review published by the National Council on Teacher Quality.
Now in its fourth edition, the review assigns a team of literacy experts to examine every course a program requires in early reading, looking at the planned topics to be covered in each class, readings, assignments, practice opportunities and tests, as well as rating the quality of the textbooks used in each course.
“I believe this recognition is indicative of the quality of instruction and the personalized attention that the faculty provides to our students,” said Kim Winter, dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions. “Only a handful of programs in the country received an ‘A’ ranking. We have been engaged in a deep look at our programs and practice when it comes to the teaching of reading and this acknowledgement is appreciated.”
WCU’s Elementary Education Program is designed for prospective elementary school teachers and current teaching professionals who strive to meet these goals and transform the future, Winter said. Following a carefully designed curriculum, students learn from and work alongside faculty, instructors and cooperating teachers dedicated to their intellectual and professional growth, she said.
The high marks for WCU’s elementary education program come as faculty in the College of Education and Allied Professions are increasingly involved in statewide efforts to improve childhood literacy. WCU has joined with the Early Learning and Literacy Impact Coalition, a group of five educator preparation programs across the University of North Carolina System focused on improving preschool and elementary teaching. The coalition will develop strategies and initiatives to improve teacher preparation.
In addition, Winter and Cathy Grist, director of WCU’s Birth-Kindergarten Program, are serving in a literary task force assembled by the N.C. State Board of Education.