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A Few More Thoughts About Schools of Education

A Few More Thoughts About Schools of Education

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In an earlier post this week, I wrote about transforming a school of education to meet America’s K-20 and lifetime education needs. I thought I would add a few more thoughts after returning home from the conference and finding the time to check out a few facts online.

Whether or not you agree with the U.S. News and World Report College Rankings, I thought I would start there and look at the top 10 schools of education. The overall ranking is based on graduate schools of education, so I constructed a matrix (see below) to track a few facts about these schools. The schools are listed in their order of ranking from number one to number ten.

U.S. News & World Report
2023 Best Education Schools
————–Annual graduates(2)——————-
# Students(1) Bachelor’s Master’s Doctoral Post Grad Cert Ugrad Cert
University of Pennsylvania 1,177 530 70
Harvard University 746 662 33 66
University of California – Los Angeles 725 10 189 65
New York University 1,526 91 494 28 14
University of Wisconsin – Madison 750 172 187 41 155
Vanderbilt University 868 48 241 49
Teachers College, Columbia University 3,163 882 113 19
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 474 72 146 24 6
Stanford University 316 129 17
University of California – Irvine 244 365 131 16 144

(1) Source – U.S. News
(2) Source – College Navigator

The first point to note is that half of the universities in the Top 10 do not provide undergraduate degrees. For those that do, the numbers of undergraduate degrees issued in a year are small except for UC-Irvine (note: the number of students comes from US News and the graduates’ data is sourced from College Navigator, part of the Department of Education. It’s possible that the US News student numbers are graduate only which is why UC-Irvine’s student number is less than the number of bachelor’s degrees issued).

It is my belief that private universities eliminated undergraduate degrees because of the huge disparity between their tuition and the starting salaries for K-12 teachers. NYU appears to be the exception in the Top 10 listing, but the number of undergraduate degrees is a small percentage of their overall students.

In my previous post, I discussed the need for a transforming school of education to include all programs necessary for K-20 and workforce/professional development. Before I opted to visit the websites of the Top 10 universities, I opted to look at the separate categories rated by U.S. News.

U.S. News provides separate ratings for the following categories in schools of education. These are:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Educational Administration and Supervision
  • Education Policy
  • Education Psychology
  • Elementary Teacher Education
  • Higher Education Administration
  • Secondary Teacher Education
  • Special Education
  • Student Counseling and Personnel Services

I believe that four of these categories; Elementary Teacher Education, Secondary Teacher Education, Educational Administration and Supervision, and Student Counseling lead to licensure for teachers, principals, and school counselors. Notably, I don’t see a category related to reskilling/upskilling/professional education.

I decided to review each of the U.S. News categories and list the ranking in those categories for the original top 10 schools. The chart is below.

U.S. News & World Report
2023 Best Education Schools
Curr. Ed Admin Ed Policy Ed Psych Elem. Teach Higher Ed H.S. Teach Spec. Ed Student Counsel
University of Pennsylvania 5 4
Harvard University 8 3
UCLA 10 2
New York University
U of Wisconsin – Madison 3 2 6 1 5 10 2 7 3
Vanderbilt University 5 1 2 3 4 8 8 1
Teachers College, Columbia 2 4 4 2 4 6
U of Michigan – Ann Arbor 4 7 2 3 1 3
Stanford University 5 1 3 10 9
University of California – Irvine

I have a few observations from creating this chart. First, the top four rated schools of education have three or fewer rankings in the top 10 for these separate categories (note: I am a doctoral graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and find this observation very interesting given our ranking). Second, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Graduate School of Education is ranked in the Top 10 in all but one category and has two number one rankings versus Wisconsin’s single number one category ranking. Third, the University of California – Irvine is ranked tenth and is not ranked in the Top 10 in any of the nine categories. Neither is NYU ranked in any of the nine categories and its overall rating is number four.

Of the Top 10 ranked universities, the University of Wisconsin – Madison is ranked in the Top 10 in all categories ranked by U.S. News & World Report. I am not familiar with the methodology used by U.S. News to rank Schools of Education, but breadth and depth of offerings does not appear to count for much otherwise Wisconsin would likely be ranked number one. Stanford, one of the highest ranked universities, is ranked in the Top 10 in five categories and yet is ranked number nine overall. On the surface, it appears difficult to discern how U.S. News assigned these rankings.

While the College Navigator website lists the number of students who graduate with certificates, it’s a small percentage of this group. Clearly, if any of these schools are providing education options for upskilling or professional development, it would be in the certificate area which is not significant for any of these ten schools.

My last step in this analysis was to take a look at the College Navigator data for Western Governor’s University which I believe has one of the largest schools of education in terms of enrollment. According to College Navigator, WGU had the following numbers of graduates by degree last year.

Western Governors University
Education Graduates by Degree Area
Post Grad Cert Bachelor’s Master’s
Biology Teacher Education 109 87
Chemistry Teacher Education 11 40
Curriculum and Instruction 2,690
Early Childhood Education and Teaching 4
Earth Science Teacher Education 18 55
Educational Leadership and Administration 51 512
Educational/Instructional Technology 2,099
Elementary Education and Teaching 30 1,815 603
English/Language Arts Teacher Education 166
Environmental Education
Learning Sciences 1,189 39
Mathematics Teacher Education 1 163 730
Physics Teacher Education 7 72
Science Teacher Education 26 189
Social Science Teacher Education 3
Special Education and Teaching, General 836 420
Teaching English as a Second Language 55 483
Total 137 4,178 8,188

With more than 12,000 graduates last year, it’s clear that WGU has most of its students concentrated in a few areas. Perhaps because they are mostly online, it’s notable that two-thirds of its students are graduating with master’s degrees. A very small percentage are graduating with post-graduate certificates and those are concentrated in three areas.

It’s clear based on this review that very few, if any, schools of education are focused on upskilling and professional development. Maybe the proper place for those certificates is elsewhere like housed in a school of continuing studies. At the same time, it’s clear from listening to critics of higher education that schools of education need to coordinate with many constituencies to keep their curriculum current and relevant. Lastly, the highest ranked schools of education educate small numbers of undergraduate teachers. What does that tell us?

Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) and as a member and chair of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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