Press Releases & Statements

NCTQ Student Teaching Report Misses the Mark

Official AACTE Statement

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Report Paints Inaccurate View of Current Educator Preparation Environment

(July 21, 2011, Washington, D.C.) – The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) today released a report reviewing "student teaching programs" from 134 higher education institutions across the U.S. As the national organization representing higher-education-based educator preparation programs, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) has evaluated the standards and results of the report and finds that they fail to capture current professional standards, practices and reform efforts occurring in the profession.

In its student teaching review, NCTQ uses self-derived standards and methodologies to make simplistic assumptions about a complex, dynamic and evolving component of educator preparation – clinical practice. AACTE's member institutions have openly embraced the profession's increasing emphasis on strong clinical programs, having progressed well beyond the minimal standards espoused by NCTQ.

Such strong clinical programs include robust partnerships between universities and K-12 school districts; carefully selected placement schools and matching of teacher candidates with trained, experienced mentor teachers in their field; placements that ensure candidates have extensive experiences teaching diverse student learners, such as English language learners and students with disabilities; specially designated collegiate supervising faculty; a clinical curriculum, jointly designed by the institution and its partner schools, with graduated responsibilities for prospective teachers; and ongoing evaluation via a valid and reliable performance assessment – among several other elements. Professional support for these elements is reflected in AACTE policy briefs on clinical development in educator preparation, the field's endorsement of the NCATE Blue Ribbon Panel report, and the many institutions that have implemented successfully the rigorous requirements of the Teacher Quality Partnership Grants.

NCTQ has made clear its disregard for the importance of clinical preparation. In August 2009, NCTQ's Kate Walsh wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan commending Race to the Top's emphasis on alternate teacher certification routes but citing concern with the requirement that alternate routes "provide a clinical/student teaching experience." The letter went on to encourage the U.S. Department of Education to amend the definition to one that "ensures new alternate route teachers are provided with the support they need, but that does not explicitly require a clinical or student teaching experience."

AACTE commends the 10 programs identified as models in the NCTQ report. Like many other programs around the nation, these preparation programs know their effectiveness, not because NCTQ has designated them so, but because of the impact their graduates have on student learning, the high level of preparedness their graduates have in their first years of teaching, the high esteem principals and superintendents have for their programs, the high placement and retention rates of their graduates, and other real evidence of program quality. Numerous excellent and innovative programs were not acknowledged in the report, and many that were included were judged to be "Weak" or "Poor." Just one example is Vanderbilt University, a program highly respected around the country but that received a "Weak" rating in this report. This inconsistency is evident even among NCTQ's partners such as U.S. News & World Report, which ranks Vanderbilt as the No. 1 "Best Education School."

AACTE and its members have an aggressive reform agenda well under way, as outlined above and in AACTE's recommendations for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. As the profession continues to make strides to strengthen clinical preparation, NCTQ has presented a report based on regressive values that do not genuinely inform either educator preparation or the public's interests.


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.