MC efforts to train teachers scores big

Marietta College’s program to train middle and secondary school teachers has been rated by one group as among the best in the nation.

For its first Teacher Prep Review, the National Council on Teacher Quality, an organization that advocates for reform in the teaching profession and how teachers are recruited, prepared and compensated, assessed programs at more than 1,100 colleges and universities. Marietta’s secondary education program earned three-and-a-half out of four stars, one of only four programs in Ohio to get three or more stars and among just 105 nationwide.

“I am pleased to see our program at Marietta College receive national recognition for the hard work that we knew was taking place in and out of the classroom by our faculty and students,” said Dottie Erb, chairwoman of the college’s Education Department.

Two things that likely stood out for Marietta, Erb said, were its strong clinical component and its high admission standards. Those are both areas of concern in general pointed out in the overall findings of the report, which can be viewed online at

The findings note that 93 percent of programs “fail to ensure a high-quality student teaching experience,” including assigning candidates only to highly skilled teachers and providing them with frequent concrete feedback. In addition, the report says that only one in four U.S. programs restricts admissions to the top half of the college-going population, compared to the top third in countries where students outperform those in America.

Marietta earned four stars for its student teaching, with the report praising the amount of feedback given to students and the way the college communicates the standards it expects of mentoring teachers, if not actively choosing them.

“We really do work with the schools on choosing the teachers, but ultimately it’s their decision,” Erb said. “We’re very pleased with the cooperation we get from the schools.”

Marietta’s elementary program received a two-star rating, but got all four stars for its student-teaching component.

The report also notes Marietta is “relatively selective” about admitting candidates but could be more so. Erb said she didn’t understand that statement because the school has high standards to begin with and even then, “every student that gets into Marietta College is not necessarily accepted to teaching.”

The secondary program also got four stars for Common Core middle and high school content, referring to the new standards tied to federal funding for schools.

The NCTQ says on its website that the review was intended to be a “comprehensive and fine-grained portrait of how our teachers are trained, useful for consumers, programs and policy makers alike.”

While she was glad to see the high marks for the secondary program, Erb was quick to point out that the ratings were based on a review of the college’s courses and how its program is set up. The NCTQ did not look at what students do once they graduate.

And if they had?

“They would find our students do an excellent job,” she said. “Our survey results from employers indicate that they do a very good job in the classroom once they’re out there.”

That’s been the experience of Warren High School Principal Dan Leffingwell.

“We work with a lot of good student teachers at Warren High School, but none come to us better prepared than those from Marietta College,” he said. “I think Marietta’s been a leader in adjusting their curriculum to meet the needs of today’s teachers.”

Leffingwell added that the last teacher he hired from Marietta is “just working out great – and I wasn’t surprised,” he said.

Leffingwell will be taking over as superintendent of Noble Local Schools in August, and he hopes to continue working with the college.

Erb said the college’s programs are nationally accredited, which are based on “much more rigorous reviews” than NCTQ’s.