FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For interviews, contact: Lisa Johnson Kiefer
(June 18, 2013, Washington, D.C.) – The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released a review of the nation's education schools today, making the anticipated splash and garnering heavy media attention with its shock factor. While the results are generating headlines, this review – like most of NCTQ's work – is misleading, unreliable and an effort to promote an ideological agenda rather than a genuine effort to inform the public and improve teacher preparation.
The report raises many questions and fails to provide useful information to drive meaningful improvement. The following points summarize the chief concerns of AACTE and its member institutions:
- This review delivers a predictable slam from NCTQ, an organization that constantly seeks to undermine higher education-based teacher preparation.
- NCTQ's claims of objectivity are false. As Diane Ravitch revealed last year, NCTQ was started by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation "as a new entity to promote alternative certification and to break the power of the hated ed schools," although NCTQ claims it is no longer affiliated with its founders. Despite the facts showing otherwise, NCTQ believes competition is the best bet for improving teacher preparation.
- Consistent with its stance on similar professional issues, NCTQ supports the Growing Education Achievement Training Academies for Teachers and Principals (GREAT) Act. Although research and effective practices show that comprehensive preparation in content-specific pedagogical strategies, teaching diverse learners, and rigorous clinical experiences are essential to developing effective new teachers, the GREAT Act would require none of these features and, in fact, would lower standards for funded providers.
- This review is based on a review of documents with such inconsistent participation and fragmented inputs that it would not be published by a credible, professional research organization.
- While NCTQ evaluated 1,130 institutions on various configurations of its standards, the report states that only 10 percent of institutions fully participated.
- The fine print in the report's Program Ratings section (p. 13) states that elementary program ratings were based on five key "standards," and secondary program ratings were based on three key "areas." NCTQ does not explain how these standards were selected or how heavily each weighed in the review. Yet NCTQ went as far as to label 163 programs with a "Consumer Alert" as a warning to parents, prospective teacher candidates and school districts.
- On that same Program Ratings page, a graph shows that NCTQ was only able to obtain enough information on classroom management to evaluate 36 percent of the 1,130 programs. Despite this low number and the unclear nature of how standards were applied and weighted, NCTQ concludes that the teacher preparation profession is becoming "an industry of mediocrity, churning out first-year teachers with classroom management skills and content knowledge inadequate to thrive in classrooms…" (p. 1).
- The American Institutes for Research (AIR) has noted the shortcomings of using document reviews to measure teacher preparation program effectiveness. In its 2012 Evaluating the Effectiveness of Teacher Preparation Programs for Support and Accountabilityreport, AIR lists several challenges with using process measures to evaluate teacher preparation programs: The research base of a document review is not robust enough to build assessment for accountability based on process measures; process measures do not always accurately capture what actually happens in preparation programs; and process data require complex qualitative measures that are difficult to score reliably across programs.
- Even NCTQ's own audit panel recognized in its report that NCTQ must do a better job of "clearly and exhaustively explaining methodology and what findings do and do not mean." The audit panel also questioned the validity of using course syllabi to determine the effectiveness of a program, suggesting that NCTQ must improve its method of "studying how accurately reading syllabi reflects the actual content of classroom instruction."
- This review is a public relations campaign. It does not seek to improve teacher preparation, nor is it a helpful or reliable guide for parents, prospective teacher candidates and the public.
- NCTQ promotes to the public that its goal is to help improve teacher preparation. Yet NCTQ outright refuses to make rubrics available publicly or individually to institutions to show where programs did and did not meet standards. It does, however, make recommendations to policy makers on how they should regulate preparation programs. If NCTQ's goal was to help improve teacher preparation, rubrics should be released so that programs could utilize that information.
- In the "Next Steps" for prospective and current students, NCTQ's recommendations are self-promoting, public relations steps intended to further promote the review – not to improve teacher preparation for future teachers.
"AACTE is focused like a laser on targets for change in educator preparation, including the ability to analyze teacher candidates' impact on PK-12 student achievement," said Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., president and CEO of AACTE. "We are evaluating teacher candidates' classroom readiness in a rigorous fashion through edTPA, and we are deepening partnerships with the PK-12 community to enrich clinical development and enhance student learning. Despite efforts such as NCTQ's to distract us from our agenda, we are committed to focusing on what research has shown to matter most."
For more information on AACTE members' response to the NCTQ review of the nation's education schools, visit www.aacte.org.
AACTE: Serving Learners
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to the highest quality professional development of teachers and school leaders in order to enhance PK-12 student learning. The 800 institutions holding AACTE membership represent public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. AACTE's reach and influence fuels its mission of serving learners by providing all school personnel with superior training and continuing education.