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Study finds Maryland colleges fail at preparing aspiring teachers with student reading skills

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Posted at 1:49 PM, Jun 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-30 13:49:33-04

BALTIMORE — A new study suggests Maryland colleges are failing at getting aspiring elementary school teachers ready to teach students reading.

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) evaluated 15 graduate and undergraduate programs in the state, grading them on five components of reading instruction; phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Those components were assessed across four different teaching approaches; instructional hours, background materials, objective measures of knowledge, and opportunities to practice.

Only one university, McDaniel, earned an A for adequately teaching all five components of reading.

Both Salisbury and Towson University's undergraduate programs received a B grade. Towson's graduate program, however, got an F.

University of Maryland College Park's undergraduate program received a C, while their graduate program got an F.

Aside from the D given to Morgan State's undergraduate program, all other universities received failing grades.

Among them are Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Frostburg State University, Hood College, St. Mary’s College and UMBC.

The review by NCTQ found Maryland colleges are more likely to teach vocabulary than phonemic awareness.

Seven programs, the research concludes, "teach multiple techniques or approaches contrary to research-based practices, which can inhibit the reading progress of many students."

NCTQ says less than 1 in 10 students would fail at reading if teachers provided "scientifically based reading instruction."

Maryland does require college students studying to be a teacher to pass a licensure test called Praxis, including for reading.

"Coppin State is dedicated to rigorous preparation of our students for the Praxis exams required for teacher certification, including the Teaching Reading: Elementary Education exam," said Coppin State's Director of Communications, Robyne McCullough in response to the study. "Coppin State University’s PRAXIS II passage rate is 100%."

"Our MAT program continues to be approved by the Maryland State Department of Education, which has established--and verified--that the content of the coursework focused on teaching reading to young children conforms to the state's expectations, among a range of other criteria and components that the NCTQ analysis fails to consider in its judgment of teacher education," said Professor Katy Arnett, chair of the department of educational studies at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

When reached for comment, a Frostburg State spokesperson defended the university's program but declined to comment, saying NCTQ was not an accrediting agency.

Last October the National Assessment of Educational Progress, better known as the “Nation’s Report Card,”found only 31 percent of Maryland fourth graders were proficient in reading, with 56 percent at a basic level.

Meanwhile only 33 percent of eighth-grade students in Maryland were proficient in reading, with 67 reading at a basic level.

We've also reached out to the University System of Maryland for reaction, and have not heard back.