It’s barely a month since NCTQ (National Council on Teacher Quality) released its first inaugural ratings meant for teacher-preparation programs in the country. But before the dust is settled, NCTQ is already thinking about next year’s model by envisioning an annual-roll out exercise through its partnership with the US News & the World report.
Many are speaking about the problems that were experienced in the first edition. Some of the challenges were large and others small ones. The small problems involved misunderstandings of learning institutions and their training programs. A good example is Columbia University, where its Teachers College undergraduate programs was rated for the student selectivity, while the Teachers College is a graduate school without undergraduate programs.
The NCTQ does not list the undergraduate program at the Barnard College like a Teachers College education program, yet it misunderstood the distinctions in the case of Columbia University, Teachers College and Barnard College. However, the bigger problems were experienced in the NCTQ’s rating design that heavily relied on the course syllabi as the only source of their data in relation to the program quality instead of looking at the direct evidence on how the programs operate or the level of knowledge their graduates purpose. That’s why its still a mystery to many why this approach is seen as satisfactory.
The big question everyone is asking is, will the NCTQ ratings influence the prospective students in a similar way the U.S News ratings did for the undergraduate and graduate schools? Many feel that the rating will have limited influence due to those institutions that are highly rated in the country.
This year, the NCTQ gave 4 institutions the top score which is four stars. These institutions are Ohio State, Lipscomb, Vanderbilt and Furman. Ohio is a prestigious state university that draws its undergraduate students from Ohio while Vanderbilt is among the most selective private institution that gets its large number of students from the South. Furman is a medium-sized private institution that offers liberal arts programs in South Carolina. And finally, the Lipscomb which is a christian college in Tennessee only serves a distinctive niche.
These institutions are fine but their none awards credentials will guarantee access the better future. In the history of ranking, schools with strong charters (ability to grant great future opportunities) had a huge impact on their students. Some of these schools include Harvard law school, Yale law school among others.
Many institutions of higher learning in the U.S have a weak charter apart the famous elite professional schools in medicine, law, engineering and business. That’s why many of these top rated schools offer degrees that serve as passports to highly paying jobs. But when it comes to regional and some niche undergraduate institutions, its still unlikely for them to develop strong charters because good students will always want to enroll to elite schools and use them as the platform to launch their future careers.
Lipscomb’s status is largely a niche institution with a little appeal to demonstrate the requirements for its students majoring in biology. Most of these students enroll in Capstone seminar which examines the evolution in relation to religious, scientific and historical context. Their course description in their website tells very little about their course which mainly relies in evolutionist and creationist books.