Dear Commons Community,
Earlier this week, the National Council on Teacher Quality issued a report slamming schools of education for admitting too many less than qualified students into their programs and awarding too many “easy A”s. Donald E. Heller, dean of the College of Education and a professor in the department of educational administration at Michigan State University, refutes the Council’s findings in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Here is an excerpt:
“The National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based think tank, has issued a number of reports in recent years on teacher preparation around the country. Its flagship effort since 2013, the Teacher Prep Review, is an annual report released in June that rates programs on how well they are preparing new teachers. In order to keep its name in front of the media between those major annual releases, the council has issued a series of studies on other aspects of teacher preparation. The latest one, “Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them,” came out this week. As with the organization’s other studies, this one has fatal flaws that undermine most of the conclusions articulated in it.
The study purports to rate whether teacher-preparation programs are lax in grading standards by examining the proportion of students in those programs achieving academic honors (e.g., high honors, or cum laude status) as compared to all undergraduates in the university.”
Heller goes on to mention several flaws in the report’s methodology. For instance:
“The report states that, “Our evaluation of institutions on this standard measures the rigor of their preparation as indicated by the grade point average (GPA) differential between graduating teacher candidates and all other graduating students.” In fact, the report does no such thing, because the council did not have access to students’ GPA’s. All it could determine was whether they earned honors or not.”
Heller goes on to discuss the fact that in his institution, many education students take the bulk of their courses in departments outside of education. In addition as is common in many schools of education, students specializing in secondary education have to major in disciplines of their specialization (i.e., science, English, foreign languages, etc.).
All in all, Heller concludes that the report is deeply flawed. I would add that the National Council on Teacher Quality is a deeply flawed organization with its own biased agenda. Its advisory board includes representatives from the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, vested interests such as Pearson Education, and Joel Klein from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, who as Chancellor of the New York City Schools, vilified teachers throughout his tenure.