“The University of Minnesota-Morris, Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota State University-Mankato and St. Olaf College are among some of the best institutions when it comes to preparing teachers, according to a report released today.

The National Council on Teacher Quality, a D.C.-based group pushing for stronger evaluations of teachers, released a report ranking teacher preparation programs across the country while pressing for more accountability among the institutions.

While acknowledging some programs are raising standards for aspiring teachers, the group argues that most teacher preparation programs don't adequately prepare education majors entering the classroom.

This year, the group reviewed 1600 programs across the nation, an increase from 2013. Still, the group said that many programs were to weak to receive a numeric ranking or chose not to participate.

In Minnesota, of the 39 programs that were evaluated, 15 elementary and 20 secondary programs received a national ranking. Of those, the University of Minnesota-Morris was ranked 50th for secondary programs, Gustavus, St. Olaf's, the University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Northwestern-St. Paul and the University of St. Thomas tied for 57th. For elementary programs, Minnesota State University-Mankato was ranked 27th.

"Given the increasing knowledge and skills expected of teachers, it is indeed disappointing that we could not identify more exemplary programs in Minnesota. However, Minnesota is by no means unique,” noted Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality. “The dearth of high-quality programs is a national problem that public school educators, state policymakers and advocates, working alongside higher education, must solve together.”

This is the second time the group has scrutinized national teacher preparation programs based on a set of internal standards that have been widely criticized by colleges and universities. Some - including the Minnesota State Colleges and University system - were sued by the group in 2012 when they refused to turn over course syllabi used in developing the 2013 ratings.

In rankings rely heavily on published course requirements, syllabi, and other documents that spell out what aspiring teachers are expected to learn.

Many universities - like the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities - only provided enough documentation to the group to comply with legal guidance. They question the rankings released Tuesday.

"We got a ranking based on an incomplete data set," said Misty Sato, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development.

Kate Walsh

Kate Walsh