19 NC teacher education programs fail to pass enough students

Posted September 6, 2017 8:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 11, 2017 6:39 p.m. EDT

EDITOR'S NOTE: On Sept. 11, 2017, officials with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction said they mistakenly included six colleges on their list of schools that failed to pass enough students last school year. The following colleges did pass enough students and should not have been included on the list: East Carolina University, Gardner-Webb University, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro and Wingate University.

Nineteen North Carolina colleges and universities have been cited for failing to pass enough students in their teacher education programs last year, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. But some of the schools say the state has incorrectly labeled them and that they have passed enough students.

Fayetteville State University was among four schools to be cited for a second straight year.

Education programs must maintain a 70 percent passage rate for graduating students taking the Praxis II exams, which are tied to their teaching license.

All schools on the list had to submit a written plan of action to the state Department of Public Instruction in July, and the "low-performing" schools on the list for two years in a row had an on-site visit. Their licensure is also in jeopardy.

DPI officials blamed the high number of failing schools on a new test implemented in 2014. This is the first year to consider that data.

"We want to make sure the tests we’re giving are preparing to teach our students well, of course, and that’s the intent of these news tests, and that’s something we shouldn’t back away from," DPI spokesman Drew Elliott said. "But any time you introduce new tests, you have teachers who aren’t used to those tests, you have students who aren’t used to those tests. So, you’re going to see a dip (in scores)."

North Carolina Central University has already implemented several changes. such as requiring that students pass the Praxis exams before getting a job, said Edward Moody, interim associate dean for the university's School of Education.

"We're trying to focus on making sure the competencies in our classes are directly aligned with the tests, make sure our students are prepared," Moody said.

An official with East Carolina University, which was one of the 19 schools cited, emailed WRAL News on Thursday to say ECU should not have been included.

"ECU’s College of Education had exactly 70 percent of our students pass, not below 70 percent. We did not get an official warning or citation nor did we have to submit a plan to DPI," said Crystal Baity, ECU's public communication specialist.

An official with UNC-Charlotte also reached out to WRAL News and said their school passed more than 70 percent of students, was never cited and should not have been included on the list.

An official with Belmont Abbey College also reached out WRAL News, saying that 75 percent of their students passed last year and should not be included on the list.

WRAL News has reached out to the state Department of Public Instruction for clarification but has not heard back.

Following are the schools that were cited by the state for one year:

  • Barton College
  • Belmont Abbey College
  • Campbell University
  • East Carolina University
  • Gardner-Webb University
  • Lees McRae College
  • Lenoir Rhyne University
  • Mars Hill University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • Pfeiffer University
  • Salem College
  • UNC-Wilmington
  • UNC-Charlotte
  • UNC-Greensboro
  • Wingate University

Following are the schools cited for two straight years:

  • Elizabeth City State University
  • Fayetteville State University
  • Saint Andrews University
  • Winston Salem State University