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Dean disputes methodology in state-by-state analysis of teacher preparation

Tue, 06/18/2013

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas School of Education Dean Rick Ginsberg is deeply concerned that a national report on the quality of teacher education and preparation programs is marred by problems with the research and methodology that are flawed and lacking in clarity.
 
“This association's stated goal is to ‘fix’ teacher preparation based largely on input measures to assess their standards,” Ginsberg said, regarding the National Council on Teacher Quality. “But these standards have never been tested. NCTQ’s own managing director has suggested to me the group has no evidence their standards will produce any particular results, which is why a large number of my peers at Association of American Universities (AAU) schools of Education have written persuasively about this flawed methodology.”
 
The self-anointed NCTQ has released a report rating university-based teacher preparation programs based on a set of self-devised standards. Their results are available in U.S. News and World Report.
 
“NCTQ didn’t visit with students, ask employers about the quality of those they hire or gather any sort of impact data to substantiate their claims," Ginsberg said. “Instead, they created some standards and somehow decided how each institution did or did not meet their requirements. If this were a research paper produced by a student, it would get a failing grade. To use this as a means of rating institutions is ridiculous.”
 
According to Ginsberg, relying on results from an organization whose leaders begin with their conclusions, where no testing of their solutions was done to assure they have it right, is both wrong and potentially damaging to the nation’s teaching force and students.
 
“We at the University of Kansas wholeheartedly agree with the National Council on Teacher Quality that we should be producing the best possible teachers for our nation’s schools,” Ginsberg said. “Examining our programs and policies can only help produce teachers that will give our students the outstanding education they deserve. However, this report will likely do more harm than good in pursuing that goal.”
 
Ginsberg also notes the NCTQ website is highly critical of teacher preparation programs, indicating their review of those programs begins with a clear conclusion. NCTQ president Kate Walsh has argued in the past that, “it is an accepted truth that the field is broken.”
 
“I applaud NCTQ in its goal of ensuring that teacher preparation programs are turning out the best possible teachers and that states have sound educational policies in place,” Ginsberg said. “Unfortunately the body’s reports are based on faulty methods that don’t pass muster. If we are going to inform our nation’s policy makers and help them in their quest to improve education we must do so in a reasoned, informed manner based on sound research and methods.”
 
Ginsberg notes prior NCTQ studies published ratings of each state’s teacher education policies. In the most recent version, the most common rating for all states was D+.
 
Interestingly, when comparing NCTQ’s highest-rated states (B-) versus their lowest-rated states (F) on the results of the national report card — the National Assessment of Educational Progress 4th and 8th grade Reading and Mathematics scores — the results showed that the average of the lowest-rated states was higher than the highest-rated states on all tests except for one.  And that one outlier test score average was colored by one of their highly rated states, which put a great deal of funding into early reading programs, not part of the NCTQ review.
 
NCTQ’s lower-rated states were above the national average score on three of the four tests, while their higher-rated states were below the national average on three of the four. “My home state of Kansas, one of the D+ states, is above the national average on all of the NEAP tests,” Ginsberg said. “Outcomes should count for something when making ratings.”



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