Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Ed. Schools Backing Out of NCTQ Review

The National Council on Teacher Quality posted its grading criteria rece to address concerns among education school deans that the review wouldn’t be transparent or accurate. It also plans to supplement the content-based analysis at the heart of its methodology with information on candidate classroom performance culled from “value added” data. But it's doubtful that that will allay fears over NCTQ's shoddy methodology.

KSN&C Backstory

This from Teacher Beat:
Public higher education institutions in Wisconsin, Georgia, Kentucky, and New York—and possibly other states—will not participate voluntarily in a review of education schools now being conducted by the National Council for Teacher Quality and U.S. News and World Report, according to recent correspondence between state consortia and the two groups.

In response, NCTQ and U.S. News are moving forward with plans to obtain the information from these institutions through open-records requests.

In letters to the two organizations dated March 28 and March 16, respectively, the president of the University of Wisconsin system and the chancellor of Georgia's board of regents said their public institutions would opt out of the review, citing a lack of transparency and questionable methodology, among other concerns.

Also on March 16, the presidents, provosts, and education school deans of public universities in Kentucky wrote in a letter to the research and advocacy group and the news magazine that they won't "endorse" the review. Phillip Rogers, the executive director of Kentucky's Education Professional Standards Board, confirmed to me that this means the state will comply with public-records requests, but it isn't voluntarily handing over information.

Finally, the chancellor of the State University of New York system, Nancy Zimpher, sent a letter April 20 stating that she will direct system officials that they "need not participate" in the review.

The situation is murkier in Maryland, Colorado, and California, where public university officials have sent letters to NCTQ and U.S. News requesting changes to the review process, but haven't yet declined to take part willingly...

To date, NCTQ has sent requests for information and public-records requests to institutions in Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The states have thus far been quite cooperative, according to NCTQ's director for the project.

The recent action is in addition to separate letters raising concerns about the review sent by state associations of teacher education colleges. These associations typically count both public and private colleges of education as members. NCTQ and U.S. News have received letters from the Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia chapters. They appear to be leaving the decision to take part up to their member institutions, in much the same way that the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is doing.

You can read some of the correspondence on NCTQ's new "transparency central" website. It lists the number of participating institutions in each state and the number of institutions in the state to which the council has submitted an open-records request...

There are a couple of related issues worth teasing out here. One has to do with an emerging subtext about which standards really matter for teacher preparation and how institutions should be measured against those standards. Several of the letters from the states reference state-approval standards, regional accreditation standards, (voluntary) teacher education accreditation standards, and the standards promulgated by the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium. Many of those standards have been put together by the education field, as in other professions, these officials argue, and are based on research and consensus about good teaching,

NCTQ, in general, contends that such standards are too vague—and in any case, points to the fact that few institutions have failed to meet them over the years.

We'll soon have upgraded sets of standards to debate: Two teacher education accreditation bodies are merging and plan to upgrade their standards. And the Council of Chief State School Officers is finalizing a new version of the InTASC standards. So expect more on this topic to come.

Second, the transparency question seems worthy of additional attention. Should private institutions that produce public employees, like teachers, participate in these kinds of reviews?

And here's a question for NCTQ and U.S. News: What's incumbent upon them to release? They've released the indicators for each of the review's standards but won't release the scoring guide, something several of the school groups have requested.

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