Andrea Lachance, dean of SUNY Cortland’s School of Education, regularly hears a common refrain from school administrators across the country.
“They’re looking for SUNY Cortland students,” Lachance said. “’Send us more’ is what we hear. It’s a reputation that’s well-grounded in the feedback and data we’ve collected.”
That reputation for excellence in teacher education was why SUNY Cortland ranked No. 23 nationally in BestValueSchools.com’s ranking of the 50 best value colleges for teaching degrees. SUNY Cortland was the top college in the SUNY system on the list and CUNY Queens College, which ranked No. 18, was the only New York state college to be ranked higher.
Lachance offers three main reasons why SUNY Cortland continues to produce quality teachers.
First, the College has well-qualified faculty who are knowledgeable both in their area of expertise as well as the general field of education.
While many colleges and universities lump future teachers together in a general adolescent education program, SUNY Cortland specializes by housing specific programs in their disciplinary departments.
“You have social studies housed in the history department and science education folks in biology, for example,” Lachance said. “To me, that’s a real strength because it speaks to both that content knowledge and also that education knowledge that they need.”
Education programs aren’t limited to the School of Education. They are also integrated into the School of Arts and Sciences as well as the School of Professional Studies.
Second, SUNY Cortland has partnered with school districts across the state to give its students a wide variety of student teaching options. Many faculty members also serve on advisory boards with local schools to ensure the College’s best practices are up-to-date.
Cortland’s Urban Recruitment of Educators (C.U.R.E.) was highlighted by BestValueSchools.com. C.U.R.E aims to prepare the next generation of teachers with the skills and understanding needed to become effective urban teachers and to improve the quality of education for New York state children. Qualified students are offered a scholarship if they pledge to teach in an urban area upon graduation.
SUNY Cortland’s professional retention rate for its C.U.R.E teachers is 75 percent. Nationally, approximately 50 percent of teachers in urban locations leave within their first five years.
“It’s very challenging, no matter how good your preparation is, it’s a challenging profession,” Lachance said. “For our people to persist, it really speaks to the quality of the program.”
Third, Lachance credits the caliber of student who chooses to attend SUNY Cortland. The College educates more teachers than any other New York college or university and is the 10th largest among public institutions in the U.S.
“If you talk to education majors about why they come to Cortland, it’s because we’re known for education,” Lachance said. “Many of them say that they want to go to the best school for education. Our numbers relate to our reputation.”
BestValueSchools.com ranked four-year public and private institutions that offer multiple bachelor’s degrees in teaching, have an annual net price below $30,000 and have retention rates of at least 50 percent and admissions rates below 85 percent.
Other criteria included the percentage of the total graduating class that studied education, the variety of education programs offered as well as acceptance rate, graduation rate and the percentage of freshmen who return for their sophomore year. Net price was calculated by adding tuition, fees and room and board and subtracting the average financial aid package.
SUNY Cortland has been recognized nationally by a number of other organizations for combining high-quality academic programs with economic value. Money magazine named the College among the top 5 percent of four-year colleges in the United States on its “Best Colleges For Your Money” list in 2017. CollegeChoice.net named SUNY Cortland’s sports medicine program the 10th best in the country.