The NCTQ has released its inaugural national ratings for various teacher-preparation programs. The national ratings affected 1,200 programs across the country, but ignored other routes that lead to teacher certification like Teach For America. The exercise saw only four institutions of higher learning receive four stars, which is the highest rating for NCTQ. These institutions are Lipscomb, Ohio State, Furman and Vanderlit Universities. It has also emerged that one hundred and sixty two programs received the lowest rating, which is zero stars. These has also seen the zero stars programs earn a “Consumer Alert” designation, while more than three hundred programs received a single star.
The recently released NCTQ ratings, with its damning character was not a surprise to many schools and their supporters. From the beginning, NCTQ has emphasized that its mission is to promote a specific vision of teacher education by paying more attention to certain criteria like academic performance, teaching instructions of the school subjects through scientific proven methods, rich clinical experiences among others. However, no one is fully confident that meeting all NCTQ’s standards will guarantee better teachers in the end. We all agree that different schools have a mix of strategies and goals that might be different from those of NCTQ’s and they will have to cooperate with this institutional to avoid any feeling of witch hunt.
Some complains have been raised by the Teachers College of Columbia University that they did not receive the NCTQ’S summary rating of the zero to four stars even though the NCTQ website does provide rate for certain features of their teacher-prep programs. The Teachers college did receive four stars for certain programs such as undergraduate elementary program and secondary teacher-education program for student selectivity. But, these programs are very tough to enroll – hardly students get admitted. That means, these programs don’t exist. These are some of the dangers of rating the academic programs based on the documents like course syllabi and websites. You end up missing some important things like – “Does this course exist?”
The indicators used to rate various programs failed to identify important aspects of practice or the outcomes of the programs they have achieved. Highly rated schools like Stanford, Columbia and Harvard got low ratings for their selectivity because they don’t require minimum GCRE score or grade point average even though their students rank very high above the national averages. It’s very clear that NCTQ was not interested in the test scores or actual grades earned by the candidates. Another shocking thing with the NCTQ ratings report is the degree of inaccuracy in their data. Columbia university, was highly rated for its selectivity of none existent undergraduate programs, while Stanford scored very low for absence of certain courses in the secondary mathematics education which actually exist because candidates must take 3 full courses in the program’s mathematics curriculum.
The California State University was rated poorly for lacking the so called ” hands-on” instruction, which is not the true picture. This institution is well-known for its hands-on learning resource lab and takes more than five hundred hours in its full year preparation for its clinical training program.