Response To NCTQ

Bad Research + Biased Agendas = Bad Findings

TAMIU joins other teacher training programs from colleges of education across the nation in challenging the accuracy of NCTQ results that incorporate inaccurate data and inherently flawed research methodology -- both skewed to better accommodate an agenda that seems focused on dismantling higher-education based teacher education preparation programs, replacing them with bargain basement online programs, some of which are directed by NCTQ surrogates.  Such programs advocated by NCTQ provide a student teaching experience of a few weeks and limited coursework, not the sort of preparation a parent would expect for teachers who will instruct their children.

Our concerns with the NCTQ report as presented focus on the following critical areas:

  • The standards and criteria used by NCTQ to evaluate and rank teacher preparation programs are not aligned with our state and national standards. 
  • There is no research base linking NCTQ criteria to improving teaching and learning outcomes.
  • NCTQ is focused on measuring program inputs through public document reviews rather than measuring the actual outputs of programs through sound research methods.  Reviewing course syllabi, admission standards, textbooks and handbooks cannot reveal data sufficient to make judgments concerning the quality of programs. 
  • We are concerned about the reliability and accuracy of data collected by NCTQ and the validity of inferences they draw from the data.
  • NCTQ was created in 2000 in opposition to traditional teacher training.  The NCTQ report reflects its strong bias against higher-education based teacher preparation.
  • There are too many unanswered questions around the NCTQ report on its efficacy, methodology and accuracy.

We challenge the accuracy of the NCTQ results based on inaccurate criteria and flawed research methodology.

To be certain, TAMIU welcomes accountability to assure that students get the best preparation for their college education and future careers.  To that end, we follow the strong accountability measures that have long governed our programs, including reviews and measures by the Texas Education Agency, the National Council for Accreditation of Teachers Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. NCTQ does not utilize official state program review information or national accreditation results.

Some specific concerns shared by TAMIU and other Texas higher education institutions:

*NCTQ Standards 2, and 5-8 deal with Common Core Standards. Texas, like a few other states, does not use these standards, as they are limited to 12th grade. Those used by Texas parallel the Common Core and go beyond 12th Grade.  NCTQ does not seem to address a unified assessment of those states that do not address the Common Core Standards.  Their limited review of syllabi and mission statements would not easily reveal Common Core Standards.

*The NCTQ Standard 6 Common Core Elementary Content identifies specific exams (i.e., Praxis II, Advanced Placement, CLEP, and SAT II) to use to assess elementary candidates’ content knowledge as a pre-requisite to admission into EPPs.  NCTQ does not uniformly account for those states, like Texas, that have their own measures.

*If documents were unable to be accessed by the general public and yet are available on internal, student-accessed websites, (e.g., student teaching forms, lesson plan formats, selection of cooperating teachers), the presumption might be that the programs evaluated by NCTQ do not have the forms. This is a faulty assumption.

*NCTQ’s review of the selection of cooperating teachers/mentors for student teachers is especially questionable. NCTQ is aware that this is one process over which many, if not most, institutions have very little control.  District-level administrators or school principals make nominations and placement decisions, often beyond the control of the institution.   However, in the case of TAMIU, cooperating teachers are nominated by their building principal and must meet selection criteria.  Placement decisions are then made collaboratively between TAMIU and local school principals. 

*Just weeks ago, the Texas Legislature changed the high school math requirements, which will impact entering freshman into postsecondary institutions.  This also impacts Educator Preparation Program (EPP) candidates as well.   

*NCTQ’s review offers a snapshot of a moment in their perceived time.  In partnership with the dedicated assessment and oversight of the State Board for Educator Certification, TAMIU has implemented sweeping changes focused on four areas: raised admission requirements for Teacher Education, elevated academic standards, curricular issues, and restructured testing procedures.  All were put in place outside of NCTQ’s review period and so were not considered.

As researchers ourselves, we are dedicated supporters of valid research and reports that aim to improve the quality of programs that prepare teachers.  NCTQ’s well-funded effort surprisingly applies a “one size fits all” approach that does not consider State standards and established measures approved by the US Department of Education.  Likewise, the authors do not consider credible data on program quality, such as official state program review information or national accreditation results.  Oddly, those subjected to the NCTQ review were not afforded an opportunity to review, correct or supplement findings. Such an opportunity will only be made available AFTER the findings have been released and distributed nationally. In testimony to the curious nature of the NCTQ review, the embargoed version of the report places TAMIU in the company of a broad range of institutions including Johns Hopkins University, University of Houston, Rutgers University, Stanford University, Syracuse University, Texas Tech and UT Dallas, among others. 

We join our teacher preparation colleagues nationwide in maintaining that the NCTQ’s effort is flawed, inaccurate and does little to advance an opportunity to provide a deservedly insightful analysis or foster an important national conversation on teacher education.

 Dr. Ray Keck, President

Dr. Pablo Arenaz, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Catheryn Weitman, Dean, College of Education



What others are saying…

AACTE [American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education] has surveyed our members numerous times throughout the last two years, and found that while there are some that do not share the same concerns as others, nearly 90 percent of member institutions do not feel that U.S. News and NCTQ are appropriate, objective arbiters for this wide-scale review (emphasis added). Based on AACTE’s interactions with NCTQ at the national level and members’ consistent experiences with the group over the years, we believe it is our responsibility to inform the public about the facts and perspective of our membership. We also feel that we will best serve our members by being a central source for sharing their stories, providing updates on developments and resources related to the review, and connecting them with national staff and peers who can help as they guide through ongoing interactions with NCTQ. “NCTQ/USNWR Review of Education Schools,” Sharon P. Robinson, President and CEO, AACTE, retrieved June 10, 2013,

--The methodology drew immediate fire from some professors of education.

The council ratings lean heavily on a few factors: Whether a program is selective in its admissions; whether its students must take extensive courses in the subject areas they will be teaching; and how much hands-on experience students get in classroom management. Researchers also looked at syllabi, textbooks and the type of training offered in key fields, such as teaching reading.

But the study did not typically evaluate the quality of teaching within the training program or the success graduates may have had in the classroom.

"These rankings do not have a great deal to do with program quality," said Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor at the Stanford University School of Education, which received only mediocre ratings.

Several universities tried to block researchers from getting data about their programs; in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri, the disputes escalated into court battles won by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

"Our members feel like they've been strong-armed," said Stephanie Giesecke, a director at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. "These are not valid ways of rating our programs."   -- Stephanie Simon, reporting for Reuters 6.18.2013

NCTQ offers no credible agenda or scholarship worthy of reforming teacher education. But this ideological think tank [Thomas B. Fordham Foundation] is a disturbing example of all that is wrong with the current education reform movement that has allowed people without experience or expertise as educators to perpetuate an education reform agenda through the weight of money, political influence, and media compliance. “NCTQ Unmasked,” Daily KOS, Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 04:29 AM PM

Readers should be cautious in reviewing claims made in the study of teacher preparation programs by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), including one to be released in June. Past reports, and their unconventional and controversial agenda aimed at achieving their vision of teacher preparation and education reform, don't portray an accurate picture of teacher preparation in Oklahoma. (James R. Machell, Oklahoman, May 25, 2013.)

NCTQ was created by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in 2000. I was on the board of TBF at the time. Conservatives, and I was one, did not like teacher training institutions. We thought they were too touchy-feely, too concerned about self-esteem and social justice and not concerned enough with basic skills and academics. In 1997, we had commissioned a Public Agenda study called “Different Drummers”; this study chided professors of education because they didn’t care much about discipline and safety and were more concerned with how children learn rather than what they learned. TBF established NCTQ as a new entity to promote alternative certification and to break the power of the hated ed schools. For a time, it was not clear how this fledgling organization would make waves or if it would survive. But in late 2001, Secretary of Education Rod Paige gave NCTQ a grant of $5 million to start a national teacher certification program called the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (see p. 16 of the link). ABCTE has since become an online teacher preparation program, where someone can become a teacher for $1,995.  Today, NCTQ is the partner of U.S. News & World Report and will rank the nation’s schools of education. It received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to review teacher quality in Los Angeles. It is now often cited as the nation’s leading authority on teacher quality issues. Its report has a star-studded technical advisory committee of corporate reform leaders like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee. "Diane Ravitch: What is NCTQ? (and why you should know)" The Answer Sheet, Washington Post – Valerie Strauss. May 5, 2012.

Nancy L. Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York system, which graduates 5,000 teachers a year, has publicly protested the U.S. News methodology, and in February informed the magazine that she, along with the chancellors of the California State and University System of Maryland systems, had advised their institutions against participating in the review until their concerns were addressed. In a statement sent to Inside Higher Ed on Wednesday, she again questioned NCTQ’s processes:  

“The methodology used by NCTQ failed to effectively incorporate significant input from the community of university and practicing professionals with a history of successful teacher preparation, and it ignored tried-and-true assessment measures,” Zimpher said. “This fatally flawed survey represents a missed opportunity to serve the public with a genuine, accurate, and useful analysis of teacher education programs. Teachers, students, and the greater American public deserve better." "Reviewing (or Trashing?) Student Teaching" Inside Higher Ed – Allie Grasgreen. July 2, 2012


 What’s the best way to ensure that public education efforts are viewed accurately and fairly? How can I help?

  • Encourage colleagues, organizations and communities to critically assess rankings and documents such as the one by NCTQ.
  • Direct persons interested in learning more about this issue to:

AACTE Statement on Teacher Preparation and K-12 Assessment Report:


The National Council on Teacher Quality Organizational Aims and Assessment Methods

To read the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAPE) response:

Diane Ravitich's Blog- About the NCTQ Report:

Diane Ravitch Response to NCTQ Report

Washington Post- Article about the NCTQ Report:



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