Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The National Council on Teacher Quality Study Released


The National Council on Teacher Quality has released its long-awaited (8 years in the making) study and the results are exactly what I expected: a DEVASTATING indictment of our country’s ed schools. Here is the summary:

For now, the evaluations provide clear and convincing evidence, based on a four-star rating system, that a vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not give aspiring teachers adequate return on their investment of time and tuition dollars. These are among the most alarming findings:

·  Less than 10 percent of rated programs earn three stars or more. Only four programs, all secondary, earn four stars: Lipscomb and Vanderbilt, both in Tennessee; Ohio State University; and Furman University in South Carolina. Only one institution, Ohio State, earns more than three stars for both an elementary (3½ stars) and a secondary (4 stars) program.

· It is far too easy to get into a teacher preparation program. Just over a quarter of programs restrict admissions to students in the top half of their class, compared with the highest-performing countries, which limit entry to the top third.

· Fewer than one in nine elementary programs and just over one-third of high school programs are preparing candidates in content at the level necessary to teach the new Common Core State Standards now being implemented in classrooms in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

· The “reading wars” are far from over. Three out of four elementary teacher preparation programs still are not teaching the methods of reading instruction that could substantially lower the number of children who never become proficient readers, from 30 percent to under 10 percent. Instead, the teacher candidate is all too often told to develop his or her “own unique approach” to teaching reading.

· Just 7 percent of programs ensure that their student teachers will have uniformly strong experiences, such as only allowing them to be placed in classrooms taught by teachers who are themselves effective, not just willing volunteers.

You can download the entire 122-page report here

This strongly supports what I’ve long said: our country would be much better off if an ed school degree were NOT required to be a teacher. Instead, ed schools would be like business schools, where employers can choose whether an MBA is a requirement for certain jobs, a nice-to-have (perhaps depending on which school the MBA was earned from), or not important at all. If this happened, I confidently predict that 90% of ed schools would soon go out of business, which would be a great thing, and the remaining 10% would completely restructure themselves to really add value.

But this isn’t going to happen, so realistically the model for our nation’s ed schools is what happened a century ago to our medical schools. On the NCTQ web site is a great 1:44 video what we did starting in 1910 with our 155 medical schools (which, like our ed schools today, were mostly schools of quackery). Related to this, here is page 114 of my school reform presentation:

Imagine that we trained doctors the same way we train teachers: that our least accomplished college grads went to medical schools, which were noncompetitive schools of quackery that taught students little. Upon graduating, new doctors had to pass nothing more than an eighth-grade level test (or none at all) and were immediately thrown into emergency rooms, treating the neediest patients. Of course, the mortality rates would be off the charts for these patients, almost all of whom are poor and minority.

(Incidentally, it's easy to imagine what defenders of this outrageous and immoral system would say: "It's not the doctors' fault. Look at how many of our patients are obese, have bad diets, drink and smoke too much, etc. What can we be expected to do when you ask us to treat such patients???" (This is, of course, exactly what the unions say.))

In an ideal world, the teachers in this country would go through a rigorous development program, as doctors do, that would look something like this:

·         Ed schools would be highly competitive (the nations with the highest achieving students like Finland and Singapore only take teachers from the top 10 percent of college graduates);
·         Ed schools would be rigorous and provide students with real preparation;
·         Graduates would have to pass a tough exam demonstrating that they'd mastered the content;
·         New teachers would enter a carefully controlled and monitored environment, with seasoned mentors by their side to make sure they learned (and did no harm);
·         Effective teachers would be rewarded and given more responsibility; and
·         Ineffective ones would be given additional support and, if that didn't work, counseled out.

In our dysfunctional, Alice-in-Wonderland education world, not one of these six things happens with any regularity.

If we had a system to select, train and evaluate teachers that was as good as the one for doctors, the resulting quality would be as good and the public would surely support paying teachers as well as doctors.

Arne Duncan has it exactly right: 

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who has criticized education colleges, praised the ratings. "Teachers deserve better support and better training than teachers' colleges today provide, and school districts should be able to make well-informed hiring choices," he said.

Here are some articles about this report:

The WSJ’s Stephanie Banchero:

U.S. colleges of education are an "industry of mediocrity" that churns out teachers ill-prepared to work in elementary and high-school classrooms, according to a report by a nonprofit advocacy group that represents the first comprehensive review of such programs.

The study, by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which has long promoted overhauling U.S. teacher preparation, assigned ratings of up to four stars to 1,200 programs at 608 institutions that collectively account for 72% of the graduates of all such programs in the nation. U.S. News & World Report will publish the results Tuesday. They are similar to the magazine's rankings of top colleges, undergraduate engineering programs and business and law schools—which are widely followed but whose methodology some education officials have criticized.

There’s nothing necessarily surprising about the results from the National Council on Teacher Quality’s review of 1,130 of the nation’s university schools of education. After all, evidence has long ago demonstrated that most ed schools do a shoddy job of recruiting aspiring teachers and even fewer provide the high-quality training — especially in reading and math instruction — aspiring teachers to be successful in classrooms. So no one can really be shocked by the fact that just four ed schools have garnered a full four stars from NCTQ for training aspiring high school and middle school teachers — and no ed school reviewed scored the top rating for training teachers working at the elementary level. Nor can one be shocked that only one out of every four ed schools recruited aspiring teachers from the top 50 percent of all students on college campuses — and that none of them bothered to even conduct interviews of their prospective students as part of their selection processes.

Kate Walsh wants to bust up the teacher preparation market.

That's why on Tuesday her group, the National Center for Teaching Quality, is releasing its first ranking of teacher preparation programs on the U.S. News & World Report website. The nearly across-the-board extremely low scores pull back the curtain on "an industry of mediocrity," according to a report released in conjunction with the rankings.

"The field of teacher preparation has rejected any notion that its role is to train the next generation of teachers," the authors write. "Any training regimen in classroom management or reading instruction runs the risk, the field worries, of new teachers pulling from a fixed bag of tricks rather than considering each class as something new and unique."

Ravitch, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Valerie Strauss really hate the NCTQ report, which tells me how spot-on it must be. Here’s LDH’s critique, which focuses on three things: lack of data (how ironic, given that most ed schools refused to cooperate); the fact that some states with high student test scores had ed schools with low grades (so what???), and cherry picking a few supposedly incorrect facts in the 112-page report.

This week, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) issued a report titled: NCTQ Teacher Prep Review.  Billed as a consumer’s guide, the report rates programs on a list of criteria ranging from selection and content preparation to coursework and student teaching aimed at the development of teaching skills. While the report appropriately focuses on these aspects of teacher education, it does not, unfortunately, accurately reflect the work of teacher education programs in California or nationally.

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