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Teacher Ed Recognized As Exemplary
August 15, 2007

A ranking of the performance of the state's colleges and universities in preparing future teachers contains good and bad news for Calvin College.

The good news is Calvin ranked first in the state -- tied with the University of Michigan -- on the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) scores.  Calvin scored a perfect 30 of 30 points on the MTTC and its 98 percent pass rate on the test was matched only by UM.

The MTTC Web site notes that the test is designed to identify those candidates who have the level of knowledge required to perform satisfactorily as entry-level teachers in their fields of specialization.

Sue Hasseler is associate dean for teacher education at Calvin and she says that having such high scores on the MTTC is gratifying.  But she acknowledges that Calvin has work to do in at least one area in the state's recent evaluation.

Calvin scored no points, out of a possible five, in the diversity category.

"We know that we need to attract more ethnic minority students into teacher education," she says, "and we are not content with our performance in that area.   In fact, we have a plan in the teacher education program for addressing that shortfall and we are very committed to working at it and doing better."

Calvin had four percent ethnic minorities among its teacher candidates for 2005-2006.  At five percent Calvin would have scored three points in that category.

Calvin also lost points in an area where Hasseler says the state needs to rethink the way it measures success.

"In the program completion rate category," she says, "we had 89 percent of our students complete our program within the time period specified by the state.  However, since a number of our students choose to teach in international settings they do not necessarily complete all of the certification requirements specific to Michigan such as taking a CPR class. By the state's measure, this is a problem. We don't see it that way."

Hasseler notes that Calvin scored eight of a possible ten points in that category, but that if it had hit the 90 percent mark, instead of 89 percent, it would have earned all 10 points.

Another area of good news for Calvin, however, was the student teacher survey where Calvin earned 10 of a possible 10 points.  That section of the state's ranking measures how ready student teachers feel in each of seven Entry-Level Standards for Michigan Teachers. 

"Calvin students rated the college very high in terms of being prepared to teach well," says Hasseler.

Calvin's total score for the state's evaluation system was 63 of a possible 70 points, a score that earned the college entry into the exemplary category.  Hope and Oakland had the highest scores in the state with 68 points each.  Grand Valley finished with 66 points, Aquinas also had 63, while Cornerstone and Ferris State both had 61.

Overall, says Hasseler, she is pleased with where Calvin finished in the state's rankings, but she adds that the diversity score is a good reminder to her, her colleagues and the college of an area where there is work to do.

"We think we have one of the top education programs in the country," she says, "and we know that what we offer -- top-notch academics within a Christian framework -- is pretty unique.  Yet we know that we need to keep pushing, to keep improving.  So we will take these numbers seriously and look for opportunities to always make the program better."

Education is one of Calvin's most popular program and about 20 percent of the college's 4,200 students are in the Teacher Education Program.  Calvin certifies 150 to 200 new teachers each year and each year about 50 percent of those graduates stay in Michigan, 40 percent go out of state and 10 percent teach internationally.

The teacher preparation program at Calvin dates back to around 1900.

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