Dean Gonzalez reponds to NCTQ study on teacher preparation programs

Report "fatally flawed and its conclusions fundamentally invalid"

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

By Gerardo M. Gonzalez, dean, Indiana University School of Education

The Indiana University School of Education welcomes continued interest in and scrutiny of how well teacher education institutions prepare teachers. The school undergoes a rigorous process of accreditation by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education as well as state approval of all its teacher licensure programs. In addition, it continuously monitors and evaluates the performance of matriculated students and the outcomes of its programs. The requirements of all our teacher education programs on the IUPUI and Bloomington campuses are readily available and can be easily seen on our websites.

The report issued today, June 18, by the National Council on Teacher Quality in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report is not based on accepted means of program evaluation or examination of actual program outcomes. IU School of Education graduates are performing at the highest levels and making a difference in the classroom.

Through ourDirect Admits Program, the IU School of Education is attracting some of the most highly talented students in the nation and the state into teaching careers. Through the Armstrong Teacher Educators program, some of Indiana's most effective teachers partner with the school to enhance their own professional development and mentor future teachers. And the Jacobs Educators program is helping teachers develop and expand how they use technology in their instruction. On the IUPUI campus, the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows Program has been recognized as a state leader in preparing STEM teachers.

NCTQ's methodology has been criticized by numerous experts and education groups, including the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Thirty-five chief academic officers from the education schools of the Association of American Universities and chancellors of the California State University System, the University System of Maryland and the State University System of New York, among others, have written to NCTQ and U.S. News & World Report expressing their concerns. By grading programs in an A to F manner, NCTQ simply seeks to create winners and losers based on its own parameters, not national standards.

NCTQ is an advocacy organization, not a research organization. A recent public letter by the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education expressed serious concerns about both NCTQ's motivations for conducting their review and the manner in which it was conducted. NCTQ studies have never been published in any peer-reviewed journal or by any other credible means of research dissemination. No research university or organization has ever endorsed NCTQ's methodology, nor can their studies be replicated by independent researchers.

Peer review and replication of research studies are the means by which the scientific community verifies results, draws conclusions and advances knowledge. Studies lacking any form of peer review and validation of results through replication lack scientific credibility. Moreover, studies that threaten or coerce an individual or institution into participation without informed consent, as NCTQ has done, engages in the highest form of unethical research behavior. Even U.S. News & World Report, which conducts various program rankings and is partnering with NCTQ on the current teacher education review, has never coerced any institution into participating in their rankings. Of course, U.S. News is in the business of selling magazines, and teacher education is a hot topic nationally. But publishing the results of a study conducted in the manner in which NCTQ has done is inherently irresponsible and misleading. It is impossible to collect valid data under such conditions.

Despite the relatively strong rating our programs received, we categorically reject NCTQ's methodology and related findings. Put simply, the NCTQ study is fatally flawed and its conclusions fundamentally invalid. It is not worthy of serious consideration by anyone interested in an honest assessment of teacher education program quality.