We appreciate the interest of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and U.S. News & World Report in assessing teacher preparation programs, and we agree that not all teacher education programs around the country are high quality. Scrutiny of the teacher education field is well-deserved, and we are not adverse to feedback that leads to improvement.
But we have serious concerns regarding the methodology NCTQ has chosen to rate teacher education programs. While NCTQ claims its approach is research-based, it has been less than forthcoming in providing details of its methodology so that other researchers can assess the validity and reliability of the ratings assigned to our teacher preparation programs and those of other institutions. We are also concerned that NCTQ has chosen to rate only university-based programs, and is not providing the same level of scrutiny to the numerous alternative teacher certification programs that have been created around the country.
The core of the NCTQ assessment, as best as can be determined from the information it has provided in advance of the public release of its report, is a review of course syllabi from teacher preparation programs around the country, including textbooks used, assignments given and topics covered. But teacher preparation is much more than course syllabi; what is more important is what happens inside the classroom, as well as in teacher candidates’ field placements.
As in any profession, a critical component of teacher education is the internship in which teacher candidates engage. Yet it appears that the NCTQ review includes little, if anything at all, to assess the quality and most importantly, the outcomes, from each program’s internship placements. As the only teacher education program in Michigan – and one of the few around the country – that requires a full academic year internship for our teacher candidates, we understand the importance and value of a strong, sustained and engaged internship experience. Principals and superintendents – those who are in the best position to assess the quality of beginning teachers – consistently praise the quality of our teacher preparation program, including the value of the full-year internship. Yet NCTQ’s review does little to assess this component of teacher education. In addition, even though the MSU College of Education was fully cooperative in responding to NCTQ’s data requests, it chose to rate only two of our five programs that lead to teacher certification.
Michigan State’s teacher preparation programs have achieved many points of distinction:
- Our programs are currently accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council, and they will be undergoing an accreditation review by the newly-formed Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
- Our programs in elementary and secondary education have been ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for 19 years in a row in its ranking of graduate education programs, an assessment based on surveys of deans of education schools around the country. The same faculty members who teach and direct these graduate programs also oversee and teach in our undergraduate teacher preparation programs.
- Our programs have received a number of other awards and distinctions, including having our graduates named as the Michigan Student Teacher/Intern of the Year for the last three years in a row, and one, Kathryn Kosko, was named the National Student Teacher of the Year.
“I have discussed the assessment of teacher education programs with the leadership of NCTQ over the course of the last year,” said Donald E. Heller, dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University. “We share the goal of ensuring that all programs preparing the next generation of teachers have the highest standards. But we believe that there are serious flaws with the NCTQ assessment. We are more than happy to work with NCTQ to improve its methodology, but it has to be willing to engage in a partnership with teacher preparation programs, rather than taking an adversarial approach, for this to work successfully.”