5 States and Colleges Teachers May Love

When it comes to education in the U.S, all states are not created equal. Some devote more time and energy -- not to mention funds -- to enhancing their school systems. The overall performance of a state's education efforts can often be gauged by how well its students are doing.

How do we determine that? Those pesky standardized tests that students hate to take are one way, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which measures proficiency in a variety of core subjects.

Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and Vermont were among the states that scored above the national average in math and reading on NAEP's 2013 assessment of fourth and eighth graders. While there are many factors that account for a student's success, a teacher's influence shouldn't be overlooked. These ratings suggest that teachers in these five states are making a difference at the elementary and middle-school level.

There's always room for improvement, however. If you're looking to become a teacher and want to raise the education bar even further in these states, the following five colleges may be worth a closer look.

Massachusetts: Boston College

The Lynch School of Education at Boston College is one option for those looking to join the Massachusetts education and teaching field. The school has grown over the last 50 years to include 60 full-time faculty, 35 part-time faculty and 60 researchers heading up more than 25 undergraduate and graduate programs. Students seeking their initial teaching license can choose programs in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education and special education. According to BC's website, the Teacher Education, Special Education, Curriculum & Instruction (TESECI) department centers on five teaching themes: promoting social justice, constructing knowledge, inquiring into practice, meeting the needs for diverse learning, and collaborating with others. It was ranked 19th among the best U.S. grad schools for education in U.S. News & World Report's 2014 rankings.

Minnesota: University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Founded in 1905, over 5,000 students attend The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at University of Minnesota -- Twin Cities each year. Research is also a high priority of CEHD -- according to the official website, 260 professionals are directly involved in research efforts. All of the university's teacher prep programs are offered at the master's level. Students can choose from an extensive list of degree programs based on what grade and subject they wish to teach, with options ranging from early childhood education programs all the way to subject-specific secondary programs. For students looking for a nontraditional way of becoming a teacher, the University of Minnesota has partnered with Teach for America to provide the first-ever alternative teacher training program under Minnesota's new laws. The school also belongs to the Network for Excellence in Teaching (NExT), a regional consortium of universities dedicated to improving teacher training.

Montana: University of Montana

The Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Montana offers a range of degree programs for those who want to work on the front lines of K-12 education. Flexibility is the name of the game here -- students can enroll in elementary or secondary education prep programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Other programs are offered partially or completely online, including a Master of Education in educational leadership, designed for current educators looking to become a principal or administrator. According to recent statistics from the university, its grads perform particularly well on the PRAXIS Elementary Education Content Knowledge Test (part of the licensure process), with 31 percent finishing in the 85th percentile or above and scores 10 percent above the national average.

South Dakota: University of South Dakota

The Division of Curriculum and Instruction at USD's School of Education offers undergraduate studies in elementary and secondary education, along with an option to double major in special education. At the graduate level, students can seek their secondary teacher or special education certification through master's degree programs, while current educators can pursue non-licensure tracks. For traveling types, USD features several study abroad programs, including an opportunity to go to England, Guatemala or Greece. Like the University of Minnesota, USD is a member of NExT. It also spearheads GoTeach South Dakota, a unique training program that aims to develop qualified educators in the state's rural school districts.

Vermont: University of Vermont

The College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont offers an opportunity for students to spread their teaching wings. Over 100 faculty teach in 16 undergraduate programs, 12 master's programs and two doctoral programs. Some of these programs have been offered for more than 150 years. That legacy has produced countless graduates engaged in "every possible sector of the helping professions," according to the university website. Within the College of Education and Social Services, the Department of Education houses eight undergraduate and five graduate programs. Special education, music education and physical education are just a few of the teaching areas students can specialize in. The University of Vermont ranks 60th on U.S. News & World Report's 2014 list of best graduate education schools in the nation.


"Agreement with TFA to create first-ever alternative teacher training program under new Minnesota law," University of Minnesota, Sept. 18, 2013, http://blog.lib.umn.edu/cehd/news/2013/09/agreement-with-tfa-to-create-first-ever-alternative-teacher-training-program-under-new-mn-law.html

2014 Best Graduate Education Schools, U.S. News & World Report, (Ranked in 2013), http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools/edu-rankings?int=be1ea4

College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota, http://www.cehd.umn.edu/

College of Education and Social Services, University of Vermont, http://www.uvm.edu/~cess/

Lynch School of Education, Boston College, http://www.bc.edu/schools/lsoe/

Phyllis J. Washington College of Education, University of Montana, http://coehs.umt.edu/default.php

School of Education, University of South Dakota, http://www.usd.edu/education/index.cfm

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