Some of you may be aware of the recently released National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) report that “graded” teacher education programs around the country.  I wanted to assure you that we are aware of the report and also to provide you with additional information that should reassure you.

First, NCTQ never spoke to us, our students or the principals and superintendents that employ our graduates.  What they did was review documentation on our website, request blank forms and handbooks, and looked at some of our syllabi. This was NOT “research” in any recognized form.  They supposedly reviewed two of our programs – Elementary Education and Secondary Social Studies, and inferred that all of our programs were the same.  In addition, they paid students between $20 and $200 to send them syllabi instead of working through us to get quality information.  Again, this was not research and it did not follow accepted research methodology.

Second, NCTQ appears to have focused on ‘input’ instead of ‘output.’  In other words, they tried to look at our admission standards and GPA requirements to determine if our students were qualified to be teachers.  Anyone who has been a teacher or worked in education knows teachers are successful by what they can DO in the classroom, not what their GPA is.  NCTQ did not review any of our employer or alumni survey data, our cooperating teacher or supervisor evaluation data,  or look at any of the other data we have to show how successful our students are in the classroom.  They also did not work with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for information about our graduates’ abilities, which they could have easily done (we are reviewed annually by the DPI).

Third, while NCTQ claims to have reviewed over 1000 programs in the U.S., less than 10% of the universities studied actually participated fully. They also reviewed DIFFERENT programs on every campus.  At Whitewater they reviewed the elementary education  and secondary social studies education  programs. On other campuses they reviewed different secondary education programs – math, graduate only, science, etc.  So while it appears the review was the same on every campus, they actually reviewed different programs on every campus so no comparisons can or should be made.

Fourth, they got many, many things wrong including:

  • It incorrectly reports that UWW is not teaching English language learning and early reading, which are REQUIRED by our program(s).
  • It incorrectly reports that students are not taking reading and math methods, which are REQUIRED by our program(s).
  • It incorrectly reports that our graduates are not assessed in the workplace, and we are REQUIRED to do this a minimum of every three years. Our recent employer survey, done in Spring, 2013, overwhelmingly suggests that our students are doing well in their jobs and superintendents and principals request our students over graduates from other programs in the area.
  • It incorrectly reports that we admit students who have low GPAs or in the bottom half of “their class” when our MINIMUM GPA for the two programs they reviewed (elementary and social studies) are 3.0 and 3.2 respectively, and the average GPA for these programs are typically 3.4 to 3.8.  This is very high and we are very selective.

I could go on and on with the report’s inaccuracies, but I will instead point you to several recent articles that I believe explain this and why NCTQ did what they did (look, for instance, at their funding sources).

Please refer to a recent article in the Milwaukee Journal co-authored by UW-Whitewater Assistant Dean, Melanie Agnew.  Another good article is Linda Darling Hammond’s response in the Washington Post.  I also encourage you to review this website with accurate information about the review from the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE):

Again, NCTQ is not a study, it is not research and it holds no valid claim to say to how our programs are doing.  We are always striving to improve, but we have much better data to support why and  how to do it.

Please contact me if you have additional questions.

Katy Heyning, Dean
College of Education & Professional Studies
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater