Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE—Susan Benner, associate dean and director of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Graduate School of Education, is one of ten education experts who will participate in today’s discussion on “Student Teaching: The Make or Break of Teacher Prep” and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) review of teacher education programs in Washington, DC.

About 200 educators, education reform proponents, and representatives of governmental agencies will attend the event, sponsored by NCTQ.

The discussion is tied to the release of NCTQ’s study on the state of student teaching in the US. The discussion is billed as a “no-holds-barred debate on our national review of education schools.”

The study, “Student Teaching in the US,” will be available today on the NCTQ website, A video of the discussion will be posted within a few days.

Benner, who was invited to provide a “dissenting voice,” said she will point to some flaws in the student-teaching study, as well as in the way the NCTQ is reviewing teacher preparation programs for a report due to be released in U.S. News and World Report next year.

“The NCTQ review of teacher-education programs, while seemingly well intended, falls far short of the mark they have set for themselves and the country,” Benner said. The review’s biggest problems, she said, are that it relies more on inputs—required courses, textbooks, student-teaching handbooks, student selectivity, and program duration—than the performance of students who have completed the programs and that it emphasizes “an outdated model of student teaching.”

UT has the only teacher-preparation program in Tennessee that requires students to complete a full-year internship. Students say the internship program is important because it enables them to develop teaching and classroom-management skills not possible within a shorter time frame.

Benner said the effectiveness of a teacher-education program is best determined by evaluating those who have completed the program.

“We can then analyze the data for program improvement,” she said. “Evaluations of teacher candidates should include their developmental performance both during and after program completion, which allows us to document change and growth over time. Candidates that teacher educators ultimately recommend for licensure should demonstrate the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for classroom success.”

Evaluating the effectiveness of a teacher-preparation program must take into account key program elements, Benner said. Those elements include the clinical component (real classroom experience); content knowledge; demonstrated pedagogical skills (the teacher candidate’s capacity to plan, teach, assess, reflect, adjust and reteach, and manage classroom settings); demonstrated dispositions (attitudes and behaviors necessary to be effective in the classroom); production of student learning (proof that the teacher candidate’s pupils are learning the material taught); and persistence and professional commitment (teacher-education program graduates remaining in the education field).

Other participants in today’s discussion include Nancy Brickhouse, interim dean, College of Education and Human Development at the University of Delaware; Michael Casserly, executive director, Council of the Great City Schools; Ed Crowe, senior adviser, Teaching Fellowships Program at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation; Nelly Hecker, chair, Department of Education at Furman University; Brian Kelly, editor, U.S. News and World Report; Mark LaCelle-Peterson, president, Teacher Education Accreditation Council; Cheryl Oldham, vice president, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce; Carol Peck, former president and CEO, Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona; Freda Russell, dean, College of Education and Leadership at Cardinal Stritch University; Eric Smith, former commissioner, Florida Department of Education; and Kate Walsh, president, NCTQ.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,