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ETSU education dean says report ranking program among worst in nation flawed

June 19th, 2013 3:45 pm by Rex Barber

ETSU education dean says report ranking program among worst in nation flawed


A recently released national report that lists one of East Tennessee State University’s College of Education programs among the worst in the nation for teacher training used data that was no longer relevant and research methods that were flawed, according to the school’s dean of education.


The National Council on Teacher Quality and U.S. News & World Report review was released Tuesday and assessed more than 1,000 colleges’ education programs, admission standards, training and value.


ETSU’ Clemmer College of Education master's in teaching in elementary education ranked in the lowest 163 programs in the nation, according to the report.


In fact, many schools did not measure up to the reviewers’ standards.


“A vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not give aspiring teachers adequate return on their investment of time and tuition dollars,” the report said.


Many educators criticized the report methodology and conclusions, including ETSU Education Dean Hal Knight.


“East Tennessee State University’s Clemmer College of Education is aware of a report by the National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a private organization that is not an official higher education accrediting body on the state or national levels,” Knight wrote in a statement. “We have reviewed the NCTQ findings and have determined they have little to no value because of the flawed research methodology that was used.”


Knight continued saying the research did not evaluate graduates who are teaching or pass rates for state licensure exams. 


“The NCTQ methodology consisted solely of evaluating syllabi, student handbooks, university catalogs, and other selected documents for an ETSU education program whose curriculum was terminated earlier this year as part of a revisionary process that the Clemmer College of Education began five years ago,” Knight wrote. “The NCTQ was made aware by ETSU that it had requested materials for a curriculum that had been terminated.”


Knight said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon that every graduate of a teacher training program at ETSU has passed the required licensing exams; any student who has not passed his or her required exams does not get a degree.


He also said graduates of the master's in teaching in elementary education program, the program given a consumer alert by NCTQ, have performed well in state teacher report cards the past few years.


Knight said materials from three other programs were submitted to NCTQ for analysis. Two of those programs received adequate reviews and another was not analyzed.


Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan said in an opinion piece that member colleges and universities during the past few years have been rewriting course curricula and rethinking the way teachers have always been trained. This effort has lead to the Ready2Teach program that focuses on student teachers learning in-depth content, applying problem-based learning and completing a year-long residency with experienced teachers in a P-12 classroom setting.


TBR governs ETSU.


Morgan said he expects the Ready2Teach program to address many of the concerns highlighted in the report and other quality assessment reports from the state.


“These ratings currently making news rely on data from years past – before the pilot Ready2Teach programs began – and as a result do not always reflect well on some of our institutions’ teacher training programs,” Morgan wrote.


Knight said as part of the College of Education revisioning process, students will now go through a “residency” that will require them to be in area schools part-time in the fall and full-time in the spring semesters.


Knight said ETSU administrators take teacher training seriously.


“As an institute of higher learning that was founded in 1911 as a teacher’s college, ETSU considers the training of quality teachers to be a sacred trust between the university and the community,” he wrote.


View the whole NCTQ report.


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