MU teacher prep program recognized on national level

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Marshall University’s elementary teacher preparation program is one of 15 undergraduate programs to earn an A+ for exemplary coursework by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

Faculty said they are pleased with this news as they have been working diligently towards a better program for all of its students. 

Melinda Backus, one of Marshall’s elementary education professors, said this program has come a long way over the past couple years. 

“For elementary reading, we have a four-course series in which we greatly focus on,” Backus said. “We have a really great scope and sequence here in our program and I think this is why we are so successful.” 

Marshall’s elementary education program focuses on the National Reading Panel, as well as the Five Pillars of Reading Instruction, Backus said. 

“These standards are what we really emphasize within our program,” Backus said. “One of our main goals is to work closely along the same scope and sequence throughout the entirety of the program.” 

Backus said looking at what previous teachers have taught students helps with the repetitive sequences. 

“We know what has been taught in previous classes, no matter who was teaching it. That is all referenced back to the sequence,” she said. “That way, when the students graduate, they have been accustomed to the same things no matter who was teaching them.” 

Backus said elementary education students at Marshall gain their experience through assigned clinical placements.Students are placed within a classroom setting to capture the real-life scenario of life as a teacher.

“Elementary candidates have a lot of clinical experience that they must complete,” Backus said. “While it is mostly reading experience in the classroom, we are working towards adding more math and science.” 

Backus said she owes the program’s successes to their four-course series. 

“The two sections in the middle are taught in a shorter time period, even though they are full courses,” Backus said. “They are all about the five pillars of reading instruction, which we use to differentiate reading levels, according to the grade that is being taught.” 

Marshall’s elementary education program also matches each clinical placement to a different grade levels to better prepare students. 

“It is important that all students gain experience in each grade level, both primary and intermediate,” Backus said. “Even though we are still teaching the same content, the clinicals we assign match much better compared to recent years. This is another reason why I think we are so successful.” 

Carson McKinney can be contacted at [email protected]