Early Childhood Education Program Earns A from NCTQ Report

Alvernia one of three universities in PA to earn an “A” in latest NCTQ report  

The early childhood education program at Alvernia University has been recognized by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) for its rigorous preparation of future teachers in how to teach reading, earning an “A” grade in NCTQ’s new report, Teacher Prep Review: Strengthening Elementary Reading Instruction


"Alvernia University is committed to helping our students make a positive difference in the world and in the lives of others by providing them with experiential learning opportunities and the tools they need to be successful teachers,” said Alvernia University President-Elect, Glynis A. Fitzgerald, Ph.D. “We are grateful for this grade from the NCTQ, for our partnerships with school districts in Berks County and for our talented faculty that allow us to adequately prepare our future teachers as well as share innovative approaches to reshaping the PK-12 environment into student-centered schools of tomorrow.” 


The program is among just 23% nationwide and three in Pennsylvania to earn an “A” from NCTQ for meeting standards set by literacy experts for coverage of the most effective methods of reading instruction often called the “science of reading.” To earn an “A,” programs needed to meet NCTQ’s targets for coverage of the five core components of scientifically based reading instruction—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension—and not teach more than three instructional methods that are unsupported by the research on effective reading instruction. 


“We are thrilled to receive an ‘A’ grade from NCTQ,” said Alvernia University Dean of the College of Humanities, Education & Social Sciences,” Elizabeth Matteo, Ph.D. “Teacher preparation in all areas, and especially reading, which is the foundation for all student learning, has been a priority of our education program. This is the result of a tremendous faculty effort which has involved consultation with local school districts, expertise of teaching best practices, and the highest commitment to student learning.”  


National data show that more than one-third of fourth grade students, over 1.3 million children, cannot read at a basic level. Undergraduate education programs, such as Alvernia's, that emphasize evidence based instructional practices can have an impact. To evaluate the quality of preparation being provided, a team of experts at NCTQ analyzed syllabi, including lecture schedules and topics, background reading materials, class assessments, assignments, and opportunities to practice instruction in required literacy courses for undergraduate elementary teacher candidates at Alvernia University.  


“Teaching reading is integrated into the curriculum and field experiences at every stage of our education program,” said Chair of the Education Department, Elena Lawrick, Ph.D. “Students learn the art of teaching literacy through their diverse field experience, coursework, science-based curriculum and experiential learning. This helps us prepare prospective teachers to respond to the ever-growing demands of the teaching profession and to share ‘knowledge joined with love,’ which is at the core of Alvernia’s mission.” 


The education department has two early childhood education (ECE) tracks leading to bachelor’s degree with Grades PK-4 and dual Grades PK-4 and Special Education (PK-12) certifications. The dual certification allows program graduates to work as elementary educators (preschool through Grade 4), special education teachers and learning support specialists (preschool through Grade 12) in public and private educational institutions. Clinical experiences for both tracks start during the first semester and occur in diverse educational environments including school districts, educational organizations, and after-school programs. 


See the NCTQ report for more information about Alvernia University’s coverage of the science of reading and to see how Alvernia University compares to other programs in Pennsylvania or across the country.