The best preparation program in the country for future high school teachers, according to new US News and World Report rankings, happens at an online university you probably haven’t heard of where students don’t take any classes.
The Western Governors University’s number-one spot surprised even the National Council on Teacher Quality, the advocacy group that worked with US News on the rankings.
Western Governors does away with many features of traditional higher education in favor of measuring competency: what students know and can do. Its supporters hope this could make college cheaper, help students graduate, and ensure they actually learn something along the way.
Western Governors, one of several colleges offering this kind of education, doesn’t look like what most people imagine when they think of “college.” That’s not just because it’s online — the university has done away with lectures, discussion sections, midterms and even grades.
Instead, students take a pre-test for each subject area they have to learn. They’re given a mentor with a graduate degree in the field they’re studying and access to textbooks, tutorials, and other resources. Eventually, they’re assessed on how well they understand the concepts. They need about the equivalent of a B on the assessment to move on.