“Deans for Impact”: A Potential, “Teacher-prep Charter” Petri Dish?

The post that follows is a re-blog from Mercedes Schneider’s blog.  It documents yet another step in the corportization of U.S. Education–this one is directed at teacher preparation. Many education deans have signed up and joined a group called the Deans for Impact.  I am curious how many of the teacher education faculty at these schools are onboard.  As Schneider points out, these folks are enamored with using metrics, standardizing teaching, measuring the computer habits of potential teachers, and following graduates after graduation to find how much kids learned from them.  Oh, and of course they will use computerized, wearisome Common Core standardized tests such as PARCC.  Mike Klonsky’s SmallTalk blog has a great piece about the concern that a superintendent of one of the nation’s most affluent school districts has to say about PARCC.  It isn’t very pretty.

Teacher preparation needs to be in the hands of practicing teacher educators, not Deans and former hedge fund managers.  This is no different from our thinking about K-12 education.  Real teaching and learning is created by professional teachers working with colleagues to bring the best and most interesting experiences to their students.  Teacher preparation is no different.

I was very pleased to note that after visiting the Deans for Impact website that Georgia State University, where I am Emeritus Professor of Science Education, was NOT among the list of membership schools.  If I were a faculty member at any of the membership schools, I would be giving the dean a call.

Here is Mercedes Sneider’s blog post: Deans for Impact”: A Potential, “Teacher-prep Charter” Petri Dish?

Benjamin Riley has started a new organization called Deans for Impact. The goal is to streamline teacher preparation to produce ever-higher student test scores. Members agree to be “data driven” and to use “common metrics and assessments.” Why, Deans for Impact are even considering incorporating value-added into their measures of “teacher effectiveness.”

And, oh, yes, member deans agree to be “transparent and accountable.” A bumper sticker for corporate reform. How novel.

Wait– there’s more:

These deans are going to “identify a common understanding of what educators should know and be able to do by the time they finish their training.”

Teacher-prep Common Core?

Sounds like Deans for Impact is decidedly on its way to becoming standardized– the clarion call of all that touches K12 education according to corporate reform.

read more… “Deans for Impact”: A Potential, “Teacher-prep Charter” Petri Dish?.

Is @TeachForAmerica Cloaking Inequity?: Discussing the Headwind

Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig, author of the blog, Cloaking Inequity, provides an important look into the nature of Teach for America, and why it is not the way teachers for our schools should be prepared, or hired.  He writes:

After several decades, Teach For America, a program that sends inexperienced teachers (typically only 5 weeks of summer training) before they are shipped off to teach on a temporary basis (primarily) in America’s toughest schools, is facing some headwind. Alumni are increasingly speaking out against the organization, many of whom who joined Teach For America…read the full story here:

Is @TeachForAmerica Cloaking Inequity?: Discussing the Headwind.

An Inquiry into the National Council on Teacher Quality

The Devil is in the Detail

This inquiry is an investigation into the behavior of two organizations that claim to have the inside track on understanding how teachers should be educated: The National Council on Teacher Quality, and it’s partner and founding organization, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.  The findings are published and available as an eBook that is available free on the Art of Teaching Science blog.

In this eBook,  I argue that the reports issued by these organizations on teacher preparation and science standards are nothing short of conservative propaganda put out by organizations with ties to each other, and a common sources of funding from the leading donors of corporate-styled accountability.

I have included the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in this report because it founded the National Quality on Teacher Quality to push forward its agenda of dismantling teacher education to its own ends.

The eBook is divided into four parts as follows:

[restabs alignment=”osc-tabs-center” pills=”nav-pills” responsive=”true” icon=”true” text=”More” tabcolor=”#ea3410″]
[restab title=”Part 1″ active=”active”]The NCTQ.  Starting with an analysis by Anthony Cody, we delve into the type of reporting that the National Council on Teacher Quality carries out in the name of research. You’ll discover that the NCTQ is nothing but a well-funded assault agent on teacher education. It’s research is a sham, and in some cases they’ve had to resort to the courts to obtain course syllabi and other documents, although so far they’ve not been successful with the legal system. Maybe they should take a course in social-science research methods?[/restab]
[restab title=”Part 2″]It’s Junk Science. Rather than beating around the bush, I’ve analyzed the reporting done by the NCTQ based on peer-reviewed research about what makes up junk science. The NCTQ comes out a winner. [/restab]
[restab title=”Part 3″]NCTQ’S Review of Georgia’s Teacher Education. Since I was a teacher educator in Georgia for more than 30 years, I looked at the NCTQ’s reporting of teacher preparation in the state. I found, among other things, that the NCTQ reported on only a few of the many programs available throughout the state, and that the reports were without depth and quality. [/restab]
[restab title=”Part 4″]The Fordham Connection. As a science teacher educator, the Fordham Institute got my attention when they issued reports on the state of the state science standards, and when they reviewed the Next Generation Science Standards. The authors of the Fordham Institute reviews of science education seem to be biased against any research in the field of science education. This is unfortunate since the science education community is a world-wide community of scholars who’ve developed research methods to investigate science teaching in classrooms globally. The Fordham authors are stuck in a 19th Century conception of what should be taught in school science, and lack the credibility to report on the nation’s science education community in K-12 schools.[/restab][/restabs]

By way of introduction here are some things you might want to know about the NCTQ and the Fordham Institute.

National Council on Teacher Quality

The National Council on Teacher Quality issues reports on teacher preparation, in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. The NCTQ reports are more of an assault on teacher education and not an honest and ethical evaluation of teacher education programs.

Like the Fordham Foundation, they are research challenged, and cherry pick statements out of context from educational research.  Their research methods are not only challenged, but avoid the most important aspect of research in any field, and that is peer review.  The only peers that review their reports are in-house employees.

They claim that their reports on teacher preparation are an “exhaustive and unprecedented” overall rating of 608 institutions.  Don’t be fooled by the extensive graphs and tables.   The method used to generate these is essentially flawed.   Its standards are lumped into four buckets (their term): Selection, Content Preparation, Professional Skills and Outcomes. And their reports include a very small sample of teacher educations program in the United States.

But here’s a big problem.

Instead of working with its subjects of study, the universities that have teacher education programs, the NCTQ relied only on a paper trail discovered online or in catalogues.  It did not visit these campuses to find out about teacher education on the ground.  In fact, many of the schools simply did not want to coöperate with the NCTQ.  As a result, NCTQ used the open records law to get much of their information.  And as the report indicates, most institutions did not supply the “necessary syllabi” to do an adequate job assessing the institutions.  They also had trouble getting the institutions to give information on student teaching and student teaching policies. Indeed, an appeals court ruled against the NCTQ which demanded that professors at the University of Missouri should give up copies of their course syllabi. However, the court said that course syllabi are the intellectual property of their creators and not considered public records under Missouri’s Sunshine Law, a state appeals court ruled this week. NCTQ is appealing.

Can you imagine social science researchers taking legal action against students because they wouldn’t answer any of their interview questions?

The NCTQ has taken the liberty of evaluating the nation’s teacher preparation institutions without making site visitations, interviewing professors, students, and administrators.

Yet, the NCTQ claims to have done an independent review of teacher education in America.


The reporting overwhelms in terms of charts and diagrams.  The problem is that the research method is limited in terms of making valid and honest evaluations of teacher education.

Fordham Foundation Reports on State & Next Generation Science Standards.

The Fordham Foundation’s gang of seven (hired consultants with little or no K-12 teaching experience) has released it “Final Evaluation of the Next Generation Science Standards.”  The same group evaluated the Next Generation Science Standards when they were first published in June 2012.  The gang of seven does not seem to have 20/20 vision when it comes to research.  Instead they have an unchanging fealty to a conservative agenda and a canonical view of science education which restricts and confines them to an old school view of science teaching. Science education has rocketed past the views in two earlier reports issued by Fordham about science education standards, as well as the NGSS.

The Fordham reports are analogous to the NCTQ reports. They write reports to fulfill agendas worked out in advance that advance their own corporate think-tank goals.

For The Fordham Institute to have the audacity to continue its effort to promote an honest discussion of science education is a sham.  According to this last report, the gang of seven used the same criteria is used to check the science standards in the states.  They graded the states using an A – F rankings system, and according to their criteria, most states earned a D or F.

They, like many of the other conservative think-tanks, believe that American science education “needs a radical upgrade.”  The gang of seven has consistently kept to this mantra, and in this last report of the NGSS, they find that we are in the same state, and that the NGSS gets a grade of C+.

Fordham has their own set of science content standards (General expectations for learning).  Follow this link and then scroll down through the document to page 55, and you will find their standards listed on pages 55 – 61.  When I first reviewed Fordham’s evaluation of the state science standards and the NGSS, I was shocked by the criteria they used to analyze science education.

I found that the Fordham standards are low-level, to mediocre at best, and do not include affective or psychomotor goals. Each Fordham statement was analysed using Bloom’s categories in the Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor Domain (See Figure 1).

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 6.06.12 PM
Figure 1. The Pie Graph Shows that nearly 90% of the criteria the Fordham Institute used to evaluate everyone else was at the lowest two levels of Bloom!

In my analysis I gave the Fordham science standards a grade of D. For them to use these criteria to judge the NGSS is absurd.

Yet, they keep saying that science education is inferior, and after a while, people begin to believe them.  For me, the gang of seven is not qualified to evaluate science education.  Yes, they have credentials in science and engineering, but they are woefully inadequate in their understanding of science curriculum development, or the current research on science teaching.

Many of the creative ideas that emerged in science teaching in the past thirty years represent interdisciplinary thinking, the learning sciences, deep understanding of how students learn science, and yes, constructivism.

The Fordham Institute and National Council on Teacher Quality appears to have had their eyes closed while conducting their crack research.  Don’t believe their reports.


If you found what you read here, then you might want to download a free copy of the eBook: Investigating the NCTQ.

NCTQ Review on Teacher Prep Replete with Significant Data Gaps

According to the NCTQ, teacher preparation in the U.S. is failing, and again according to them, there is a significant data gap on what’s working.

Their stated goal is to fill this gap by providing those who want to be teachers to become “strategic” consumers by providing them with a ranking of the teacher prep programs in the country.

NCTQ states that its strategy is based on the review of medical education in the U.S. sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and completed by Abraham Flexner in 1910, titled Medical Education in the United States and Canada (access to the original document). However, to suggest that in the year 2014 that the preparation of teachers is in the same state as was medical education in 1910 is to be misinformed.  The preparation of teachers developed and changed in ways similar to the preparation of physicians over the past 100 years.

In this post, I provide data to show that the NCTQ review of teacher preparation is a failed effort, and does not come close to helping anyone understand teacher education, unless you work for them, or the Fordham Foundation.

What is the Flexner Report and What Does NCTQ Fail to Tell About it?

In 1910, there were 155 medical schools in North America.  Flexner visited all 155 medical schools.  As Flexner points out in his study of medical education, many of the medical schools then were “trade” schools owned by one or a few doctors.  At the time, medical training was unregulated, and his report called on American medical schools to enact higher admission standards and graduation standards.

In 2014, NCTQ identified 1,127 institutions that supported teacher preparation.  The NCTQ did not visit any of these schools.  Table 1 shows the comparison of schools visited by Flexner and the NCTQ in their respective studies of medicine, and teacher prep.  There is something wrong with the approach taken by NCTQ.  In 1910, teacher preparation in America already had 70 years of experience, and many major universities were sites for the preparation of teachers.

Table 1. Comparison of the Flexner and NCTQ Reviews
Table 1. Comparison of Schools Visited in the  Flexner and NCTQ Reviews of Medicine and Teacher Prep

Flexner’s report was a thorough study of medical education in North America, and it’s unfortunate the NCTQ identifies its review of teacher prep as in the same league as the Flexner report.  It’s not.  The Flexner report was a scientific study of medical education in North America.  It includes a detailed review of the literature and history of medical education in North America.  Flexner examined early and historical essays on medical training going back as far as 1750 with the establishment of America’s first at the College of Philadelphia in 1765.

The NCTQ report is not a scientific study of teacher preparation The NCTQ ignores the history of teacher prep in North America, and has never published a review of the literature or history of the long history of teacher prep in the United States.  And, instead of learning from teacher educators about teacher preparation, they refused to visit any institutions and used strong arm tactics to get documents such as course syllabi.  They had to do this because many teacher preparations didn’t return NCTQ’s call!

Teacher preparation, like medical education has a rich history.

When I decided to become a teacher, I applied and was accepted at Bridgewater State Teachers College, in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1840 by Horace Mann as the second teacher prep institution in America, as the Bridgewater Normal School. (The first normal school was founded in 1839 in Lexington, MA, where I taught high school back in the day).  Bridgewater is the oldest institution of public higher education in Massachusetts, and is regarded as the “home of teacher education” in America.  It took its present name, Bridgwater State University in 2010.

The teacher preparation that I received at Bridgewater was based on the laboratory school model in which the university supported a laboratory school which provided clinical teaching experiences for its students.  As prospective teachers, we taught in the lab school as interns during our 3rd year, and then did a full internship (student teaching) in a Massachusetts public school.  The laboratory school (Burnell Campus Laboratory School) at Bridgewater began in 1840, and except for a few years in the mid-1880’s, it remained open until 2010.  The laboratory school, which was promoted by John Dewey as an environment for teacher development and curriculum reform, substantiated the importance of teaching students as main focus of teacher prep. My experience at Bridgewater would influence my approach to teacher preparation at Georgia State University in the years ahead.  Clinical and experiential learning would be focal points for my work in teacher prep at Georgia State University.  Combined with theoretical application and integration with the works of  John Dewey, Maria  Montessori, Abraham Maslow, Margaret Mead, Carl Rogers, Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, and the rich body of research in teacher education and science education, we developed humanistic and progressive models of teacher preparation.

The history of teacher preparation in the United States rivals the precarious history of medicine, law and theology in American universities.

NCTQ failed to explain this.

The Flexner report provided recommendations for the improvement of medical education in North America when there was a real need to do so.  The establishment of “professional” schools in American universities had just begun, and there was resistance by some academics as to the viability of trade professions like medicine and law.

But Flexner was a research scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Flexner’s view was that medical education should follow the same path as the kind of thinking in the natural sciences, and suggested that medical training be as intellectual for doctors as it was for physicists.  Flexner criticized deeply the profit motive that dominated medical training in the U.S. at the time.  Flexner believed that the university hospital setting was ideal for medical prep because research would arise out of patient care and these teacher-medical-educators would thus teach their students.  He even had a motto, “Think much; publish little.”

Within the same time frame as the Flexner Report, élite universities moved into the business of teacher preparation.  The University of Iowa, The University of Michigan, Columbia Teachers College, University of Chicago, Standford, Ohio State, Harvard, and Berkeley entered the field, in that order.  Although Normal Schools primarily prepared elementary teachers, these universities focused on the preparation of secondary teachers and school administrators, and production of educational research.  Just as Flexner believed that medical education should focus on patient care, normal schools championed the same belief by focusing on practical preparation methods.  Teacher preparation at élite universities, however, took a different path, one that focused on research.

By the time I entered the field of teacher preparation, I had already studied science and education at Bridgewater State, Boston University, Illinois Institute of Technology, and The Ohio State University.  I became a faculty member in the first year of the College of Education’s existence at Georgia State University (GSU).  It was 1969, and by this time, normal schools had evolved into regional state universities with their own colleges or departments of education, and larger and élite universities had formed colleges of education on the same par as colleges of arts and sciences.  GSU was breaking ground with its first college of education in an urban environment and in a public school environment that had just begun to integrate its K-12 schools.

During the period of 1970 – 2010, American universities had incorporated teacher education into its structure, and for the most part, no professional schools (medicine, law, education) existed outside the university as a stand alone institution.

For at least 100 years, teacher preparation has experimented with different models to prepare teachers.  Colleges of education have provided universities with many students, most of whom take courses in other colleges across the university campus.  For example, nearly all the teacher education candidates that I worked with for over 30 years arrived at GSU with degrees in science, mathematics or engineering.  Their course work was based on the content domains in colleges of arts and science, or engineering.  In fact, a number of our students came from Georgia Tech, which just a few miles away from GSU.

NCTQ Did NOT Review Most Teacher Preparation Programs

Figure 1. Percentage of teacher education programs NOT reviewed at University System of Georgia teacher prep schools.
Figure 1. Percentage of teacher education programs NOT reviewed at University System of Georgia teacher prep schools.

Across the country, teacher education has done a balancing act between academic research and clinical teaching.  Powerful teacher education (Library Copy) programs are rooted in clinical experience for teacher candidates and are based on high standards in the context of a strong curriculum.  In 2006, Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond released a report that rivals that of the Flexner report.

The NCTQ would have you believe that it has identified high-caliber teacher prep programs, along with rating others to form a rank ordered system.  The truth is that they have little to no idea about which programs are of high quality because they never visited any, and they failed to investigate at many as 80% of the programs that are offered in higher education institutions.

Figure 1 shows the percentage of teacher education programs that were not reviewed by the NCTQ.  The chart shows the top 10 producing state universities in Georgia, as well as the remaining 11 universities clustered as a group.  The NCTQ review on teacher preparation is replete with significant data gaps.  The fact they reviewed very few programs in Georgia is a testament to their anemic review.

Their review is nothing compared to the report issued by Abraham Flexner more than 100 years ago.  Shame on them for thinking that they can associate with Mr. Flexner (who, by the way, with Louis Bamberger founded the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton).

What do you think about the NCTQ review?

Resisting the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Propaganda

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has published in recent review of teacher preparation.  The NCTQ is well-financed (Gates, Walton, Broad, New Ventures Fund, and many more), and the Fordham Foundation’s creation.  Together, their goal is destroy teacher prep by convincing the nation that teacher preparation in the nations public and private colleges is failing.  And to prove it, they’ve developed a set of standards, that Dr. Tom Slekar, Dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College (Madison, WI), says are so bad that “if our teacher education programs were evaluated “highly” by NCTQ we would be violating our mission/values and all the research on child development and teaching and learning.” (Interview published on Living in Dialog by Anthony Cody, May 27, 2014).

The NCTQ’s effort is an assault on teacher education, and there is a need for a resistance to their propaganda.  In this blog post, I’ve rounded up a few articles that call the NCTQ out, and show how their method is nothing short of an assault on the nation’s teacher education infrastructure.


NCTQ’s Assault on Teacher Education.  According to the head of the NCTQ, Ed schools don’t give teachers the tools they need.  Whose tools?  What tools?  The NCTQ is stuck in a 19th century version of teaching, and a 21st century push to quantify learning about student achievement tests.  To the NCTQ, if teacher preparation is not focused on academic achievement, then it is not giving teacher candidates the tools that the NCTQ thinks it needs.


Those Nonsense Annual NCTQ Ratings Are Coming on June 17. In this piece, the author reminds readers that the NCTQ ratings are coming (they are here now).  Dr. Schneider has written several articles on the NCTQ which you can reach here.  Schneider, M.K. Deutsch29 Blog, June 16, 2014.

Why the NCTQ Teacher Prep Ratings are Nonsense.  Dr. Darling-Hammond explains that “NCTQ’s methodology is a paper review of published course requirements and course syllabi against a check list that does not consider the real quality of instruction that the programs offer, evidence of what their students learn, or whether graduates can actually teach.”  As she pointed out in her article, those states whose students score high on NAEP had teacher prep programs with the lowest ratings, while states like Alabama, that scored low on NAEP, had high NCTQ ratings.  She also says that the NCTQ is out of sync with current teacher education programs, most of which are graduate level. Darling-Hammond, L. National Education Policy Center, June 19, 20123.

Response to the New NCTQ Teacher Prep Review by Peter Smagorinsky, The University of Georgia.  Dr. Smagorinsky briefly responded to some of the claims that the NCTQ makes which rely on rhetorical characterizations about “success” and “achievement” that spuriously elevate their belief that standardized tests reflect the whole of learning, a claim that few teachers or teacher educators endorse. In contrast, most teachers and teacher educators believe that the NCTQ’s narrow focus on standardized “achievement” tests undermine an authentic education that prepares students for work or life.  Smagorinksy, P. The Becoming Radical Blog, June 17, 2014.

Market Forces

How Will Market Forces Transform Teacher Preparation?  This is an article by Anthony Cody gives meaning to the context within which the NCTQ has appointed itself as the purveyors of truth about teacher preparation.  As Anthony points out, teacher preparation is being challenged by corporate reformers who have backed a group of non-educators called the NCTQ.  Financed by the same groups that are pushing test-based accountability and charter schools, the NCTQ has started the ball rolling to crush teacher preparation as we know it.  Anthony has written many articles about teacher preparation and NCTQ and you can reach them here.  Cody, A. Living in Dialog, May 29, 2014.

Shaky Methods, Shaky Motives: A Critique of the National Council of Teacher Quality’s Review of Teacher Preparation Program by Edward J. Fuller.  In this peer-reviewed article, Dr. Fuller states that the NCTQ’s review of university-based teacher preparation programs concluded the majority of such programs were inadequately preparing the nation’s teachers. The study, however, has some serious flaws that include narrow focus on inputs, lack of a strong research base, missing standards, omitted research, incorrect application of research findings, poor method, exclusion of alternative certification programs, failure to conduct member checks, and failure to use existing evidence to confirm the report’s rankings. All of these issues give the NCTQ report less than useful in efforts to understand and improve teacher preparation programs in the United States. The article also suggests alternative pathways NCTQ could have undertaken to work with programs to actually improve teacher preparation. The article concludes by noting that the shaky methods used by NCTQ suggest shaky motives such that the true motives of NCTQ for producing the report must be questioned.  Fuller, E.J. Journal of Teacher Education 2014, Vol 65(1) 63–77 © 2013 American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

Feeble and Incompetent

The NCTQ Review of Teacher Prep in the University System of Georgia is Feeble & Incompetent.  An analysis of the NCTQ Review in the context of teacher preparation in Georgia’s 21 state universities that offer teacher education programs.  The NCTQ claims to have a handle on the state of teacher preparation in the nation, but the results of this investigation show that they have reviewed a very small percentage of teacher prep programs offered in America’s colleges and universities. Hassard, J. The Art of Teaching Science Blog, June 22, 2014.

National Council for Teacher Quality Review: A Stacked Deck?  In this study, we analyzed the make-up of the NCTQ people, and discovered that it represents a “stacked deck.”  Only 2.5% of the participants in the review were teacher educators–active professors out there doing teacher education.  The NCTQ was stacked with corporate executives, foundation executives, and employees of NCTQ.  It was far from representing the field of teacher education.  Hassard, J. The Art of Teaching Science Blog, June 20, 2014.

Figure 3.  The Stacked Deck of Who Performed the NCTQ of Teacher Prep Review
Figure 3. The Stacked Deck of Who Performed the NCTQ of Teacher Prep Review

Results Are In: NCTQ Report on Teacher Prep Rated with Four Cautions.  In this article, the author analyses the 2013 NCTQ Review of Teacher Prep in the US, and using a junk science model developed by M.S. Carolan, concludes that this NCTQ study scored high on the junk science index, and therefore warrants 4 cautions–the highest rating possible in the model.  Readers should be extremely cautious about using the results of the NCTQ review of teacher prep. Hassard, J. The Art of Teaching Science Blog, July 1, 2013.

NCTQ Report on Teacher Prep: the Devil is in the Detail.  In this article we dig deep into the so-called methods used to evaluate university teacher prep programs.  The “methods” used include sources including: syllabi (when they can get them), textbooks, catalogs, handbooks, evaluation forms. We show that the NCTQ report on teacher preparation is junk science.  The method that they employed in their study avoided data from the very sources that could help uncover the nature of teacher preparation.  These sources are faculty, administrators, students, and cooperating school districts and educators.  Without interviewing and observing teacher preparation programs directly, and without establishing a cooperative relationship with the these institutions, the NCTQ condemns itself to false claims, outright opinions that have little bearing on the nature of teacher preparation.  Hassard, J. The Art of Teaching Science Blog, June 23, 2013