Hawaii teacher programs given poor marks


HONOLULU — A national survey of teacher-training programs that gives poor marks to the University of Hawaii and Chaminade University is drawing criticism.

The National Council on Teacher Quality released findings this week that give dismal rankings to most of the teacher-preparation programs in the country.

Chaminade got two out of four stars for its undergraduate elementary program and one star for its graduate secondary program. Programs at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa and Hilo campuses received one or no stars. A rating couldn’t be calculated for programs at Brigham Young University Hawaii at UH West Oahu. Teacher training at Hawaii Pacific University wasn’t rated.

The survey of more than 1,000 programs drew immediate criticism nationally, as well as within the islands.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe said Wednesday the survey isn’t comprehensive because it doesn’t look at non-university-based alternative programs. It also didn’t consider field experiences of student teachers, he said. “It’s not a detailed study,” he said. “To me, I think it’s skewed.”

The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board licenses teachers, school librarians and school counselors in the state. The board also approves teacher preparation programs. “It bothers me that it gives an impression that our programs aren’t of high quality,” she said of all 13 Hawaii-based teacher programs. “But I know they are.” She said the Hawaii programs undergo rigorous review.

“We look at outcomes, rather than input,” she said, noting that the survey failed to give information about how the overall teacher can affect student learning.

She said as states are moving toward national accreditation, Hawaii has three programs that already are nationally accredited: UH Manoa, UH West Oahu and University of Phoenix-Hawaii. National accreditation is pending for Halau Wanana Indigenous Center of High Learning, a Big Island program that focuses on teachers who want to work with Native Hawaiian students, Hammonds said.

UH Manoa College of Education Dean Don Young said the ratings are disappointing and surprising.

“Even more surprising, last week NCTQ requested permission to post a syllabus from our undergraduate secondary teacher preparation program on their website as exemplary,” he said. “We will be analyzing the report for relevant recommendations and discussing those with faculty when they return for the fall semester in August.”

Kapono Ryan, a spokeswoman for Chaminade, said the survey is based on dated information.

Among the survey’s Hawaii findings:

c 20 percent of elementary and secondary programs restrict admissions to the top half of the college-going population, compared to 28 percent nationwide.

c 33 percent of the limited sample of elementary programs evaluated for early reading instruction are preparing teacher candidates in “effective, scientifically based reading instruction.” That’s similar to the 29 percent providing such training nationally.

c None of the evaluated elementary programs provide math training that “mirrors practices of higher performing nations such as Singapore and South Korea.”

“We believe an effective teacher is one of the most important factors in student learning,” said state Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We have a positive collaborative relationship with the institutes of higher education here in Hawaii, and look forward to continuing to work together on continuously improving the preparation and support for teachers.”

The Washington, D.C.-based council is an advocacy group founded in 2000 to push an education overhaul that challenges the current system. The council said the review was financed by contributions of $4.8 million from 65 private foundations across the country, including one in Hawaii.

Young said the Chamberlin Family Foundation provided funding to respond to the council’s request for numerous documents, “ensuring that no taxpayer money was used to provide information for this review.”