FIU’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program has been named one of the top in the country by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).
The program in the School of Education and Human Development was recognized for its strong commitment to evidence-based reading instruction. It is one of only 15 undergraduate elementary programs to earn an A+ for exemplary coursework and only one of two in the state of Florida.
“Our elementary education program gives future teachers the foundation to share their passions and their own love of learning,” said Mike Heithaus, dean of FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education. “Our faculty are preparing 21st century educators who are adaptive, collaborative and innovative. They are the teachers that kids truly need today.”
“We are incredibly proud of the work we do at FIU’s Elementary Education program and we are grateful to be recognized for that work through the National Center on Teacher Quality,” said Laura Dinehart, senior associate dean of the School of Education and Human Development in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education. “We know that we are preparing teachers who are knowledgeable in the five elements of effective reading instruction — phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension.”
The FIU bachelor’s degree program prepares students to become teachers for kindergarten through 6th grade while earning endorsements in reading and TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Programs that earn an A+ from NCTQ provide the following for each of the five essential components of reading:
- Explicit and repeated instruction;
- Support for instruction with high-quality textbooks that accurately detail established principles of scientifically based reading practices;
- Opportunities for teacher candidates to demonstrate mastery through in-class assignments, tests and instructional practice.
The latest findings are a positive sign for newly energized movement across the nation to bring down notoriously high rates of illiteracy in the United States. Each year, more than a million public school students arriving in the fourth grade are added to the nation’s ranks of nonreaders. Two-thirds are black and Hispanic children struggling in the face of an inequitable education system. Reading ability is a key predictor of future educational gains and life success, making successful reading instruction essential to achieving educational equity.
“We were excited to see that Miami-Dade’s fourth graders scored first in the nation compared to their counterparts, and we hope that by preparing some of the nation’s best teachers, FIU is helping to contribute to the success of the students in our community,” Dinehart said.
Now in its fourth edition, the Teacher Prep 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.
“The progress being made by programs comes as a real shot in the arm,” said Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and policy organization. “The resistance to teaching what is scientifically-based has been so formidable. The scale is now tipping in favor of science, and the real winners here are the students who will learn to read.”