Fairmont State University ranked among top in Teacher Preparation Programs for Early Reading Instruction

Fairmont State University is among five traditional undergraduate programs in West Virginia to earn an A from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) in the 2020 Teacher Prep Review. 

The new data and analysis from the NCTQ found significant progress on adoption of scientifically-based methods for teaching reading by the nation’s teacher preparation programs with West Virginia ranking 15th in terms of the average score achieved by its programs. 

“I am thrilled to learn of this extraordinary designation,” Mirta M. Martin, president of Fairmont State University, said. “But I also have to say, I’m not surprised. Our early reading program, as well as our other education programs, are shining examples of how we continue to serve regional and national needs by providing transformational academic programs that are borne out of our commitment to our institutional mission.”

Dr. Amanda Metcalf, interim associate dean of the School of Education, Health & Human Performance, said they are thrilled to be recognized as a strong program. The rating reflects the hard work and dedication by the University’s Elementary Education faculty. 

“The A rating, and being recognized nationally, is also a testament to our continued commitment to academic excellence. The real winners of our A rating are the students who learn to read as a result of the outstanding teacher candidates the Elementary Education program produces,” she said. “Fairmont State has been a vanguard of teacher education in West Virginia since 1865 and the long tradition of high-quality teacher education continues.”

Dr. Sharon Smith, Interim Department Chair and Professor of Education, said reading is an important life skill as it plays a significant role in being able to function in society. 

“No matter one’s career choice, being able to read is a must. Reading to children and teaching them to read at a young age helps them develop a larger vocabulary, builds critical thinking skills, strengthens comprehension, and prepares them to do well in school and work,” she said. 

Fairmont State teacher candidates understand the importance of reading and how it will impact their future students and their teaching careers. Dr. Barbara Wierzbicki, assistant professor of Education, said the program prepares both elementary and secondary teach candidates who realize all teachers are teachers of reading. 

“The progression of courses focuses on understanding the reading process, learning a variety of content area reading strategies, and then practicing the pedagogy (methods) needed to teach reading and language arts skills,” she said. 

Now in its fourth edition, the Teacher Prep Review assigns a team of literacy experts to examine every course a program requires in early reading, looking at the planned topics to be covered in each class, readings, assignments, practice opportunities, and tests, as well as rating the quality of the textbooks used in each course. These experts look for clear evidence of dedicated course time as well as measures where aspiring teachers must demonstrate their knowledge of the five key components of the science of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

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