College students in a classroom.
College students in a classroom. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

Higher education institutions are training some of the weakest students to lead the nation's classrooms.

That’s one of the conclusions of a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality. On top of that, the advocacy group says fewer than 10 percent of the teacher training programs it's assessed are doing a stellar job.

One of the criteria the group uses to assess schools is their admissions selectivity.

“The education school is often the easiest program on a campus to get into,” says Kate Walsh, president of The National Council on Teacher Quality. Walsh says three out of four of the teacher prep programs her group examined lack rigorous admissions standards and accept students with lackluster grade point averages or scores on college entrance tests.

Walsh says mediocre students use education as a fall-back major. She wants schools to raise the bar and make teaching a more elite profession.

But Peter Cookson with the American Institutes for Research says another important way to do that would be to raise teachers' pay.

“It's a good salary, but it isn't really competitive in the long-term,” he says.

Cookson says the stakes are high for attracting and retaining good teachers. He says students perform much better with strong instructors.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Annie Baxter at @anniebaxter123