The NCTQ Review of Teacher Prep in the University System of Georgia is Feeble & Incompetent

The NCTQ Review of Teacher Prep in the University System of Georgia is Feeble & Incompetent.

In this post I’m going to explain why I conclude that the NCTQ Review of Teacher Prep of the University System of Georgia colleges and universities that offer teacher education is feeble & incompetent.

Figure 1. Map of Teacher Preparation Institutions in Georgia

Figure 1. Map of Teacher Preparation Institutions in Georgia.  The NCTQ Review of Teacher Preparation Did Not Even Come Close to Reviewing the Status of Teacher Prep in the Peach State.

I am Professor Emeritus of Science Education at Georgia State University. I was professor at GSU for 33 years, from 1969 – 2003. For the past 11 years I’ve blogged at The Art of Teaching Science, as well as written two editions of The Art of Teaching Science (Library Copy), and the second edition of Science as Inquiry (Library Copy).

While at GSU, I collaborated with colleagues across the university and with school districts in the greater Atlanta area to design several teacher education programs. The first program, the Phase Program for Secondary Science was a one year full-time certification program designed for students with degrees in science.

Starting in 1988, I worked with other professors in the College of Education to develop the first alternative teacher prep program in Georgia. The alternative certification program (ACP) was funded by the Professional Standards Commission from 1988 – 1993. Based on our experiences in the ACP, we designed a mathematics and science teacher preparation program for students with degrees in math, science or engineering.

In 1993, the Teacher Education Environments in Mathematics and Science (TEEMS) program was created as a four semester program beginning with an intensive summer institute followed by internships in a middle school, followed by a high school.  Students were assigned to schools in clusters of 10 – 20 students, and each worked with mentor teachers and professors and graduate interns for two semesters.  Students completed their graduate work in summer 2, and began their teaching careers in the fall.  In a few years, English education and Social studies education became part of the TEEMS teacher prep model.  It is the primary program for preparing secondary teachers at Georgia State University.

I also was involved in designing graduate hybrid courses at GSU for teachers that combined online learning with face-to-face.  In our earliest work, in the early 1990s,  we were using Macintosh SE 20 computers and very crude telecommunications system.

In the late 1980s, we began a collaboration with educators, researchers and teachers in the Soviet Union, and out of a long series of collaborations, developed the Global Thinking Project, one of the first telecommunications projects linking schools in the U.S. with schools in the Soviet Union.  We designed teacher preparation institutes and brought teachers from the U.S., Russia, Spain, Australia, and the Czech Republic to Atlanta for hands-on and face-to-face experiences using the Global Thinking curriculum materials, and the technology that was essential to global collaboration.

That said, here is my first analysis of the NCTQ Review of Teacher Prep.

NCTQ’s Numbers Don’t Add Up

The National Council of Teacher Quality released its review of teacher prep programs in the United States.  It has reported on teacher prep programs in every state in the country.  It’s review was based on examining course catalogues and course syllabi, when they could get them.

NCTC claims that its method will show the quality of teacher preparation programs around the country.  Although I don’t think their review has much to do with quality, let’s forgo quality, and take a look at quantity.  Do they present a valid display of teacher education options as they exist today in our nation’s colleges and universities?  I don’t think they do.

To find an answer to this question, I compared their report on teacher education in Georgia to what I could find on documents that are available to anyone simply by migrating to the University System of Georgia’s (USG) website, and from there following links to each state university that offers teacher preparation program.

Table 1 includes data that I extracted from the USG website, and the 21 universities that support teacher education in the state of Georgia.  Georgia state universities graduate about 4500 teacher each year.  I’ve listed the top ten producing universities in sequence in the chart, and then I’ve grouped the remaining 11 into “Other Teacher Education Programs.”

If you are not familiar with teacher education in Georgia, the results might surprise you in that Kennesaw State University (KSU)  is the leader in graduating teachers each year.  It offers at least 19 teacher preparation programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  It is the third largest public university in the Georgia after the University of Georgia (UGA)and Georgia State University (GSU).  Yet, the NCTQ reviewed only one of KSU’s 13 programs, four of UGA’s 18 programs, and two of GSU’s 17 teach prep programs.

If you re-examine the data in Table 1, very few of the State’s teacher prep programs were reviewed.


Figure 2. Teacher Prep in Georgia in 2012 - 2013 in 19 University of System of Georgia Universities

Table 1. Teacher Prep in Georgia in 2012 – 2013 in 19 University of System of Georgia Universities

In fact, if we examine the teacher preparation programs in the University System of Georgia as a whole, there are 151 undergraduate programs, and 118 graduate programs.  This is a total of 269 programs, and the NCTQ reviewed only 39 of them (Figure 2).

What About the Other 6,000 Teacher Prep Programs?

If we extend this thinking to the nation as a whole, we find that the NCTQ has reviewed a minority of the programs available to people to become teachers. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) lists more than 800 member institutions (public and private) that offer teacher preparation programs.

If we do a little math based on data from the University System of Georgia, we estimate that there are more than 8,900 teacher education programs offered in the U.S. in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, special education, art, music, physical education, and gifted education.

The NCTQ reviewed 2400 teacher prep programs.  They claim that their review answers the question: How are the nation’s institutions that train tomorrow’s teachers doing?  Their report failed to mention that there are more than 6,000 programs that never were reviewed.

Figure 1.

Figure 2. Number of Teacher Programs Reviewed by NCTQ Compared to the Number of Existing Programs in Georgia and the USA

The results that NCTQ are touting as reporting on the status of the nation’s teacher preparation programs is a sham.  The NCTQ method is described here. According to NCTQ they posted rankings of 1,1612 teacher prep programs in 1,127 public and private institutions of higher education.  If my research, as reported above is correct, there are even more teacher prep programs in the nation than I had reported.  Using the NCTQ figures, a fair estimate would be that there are nearly 10,000 teacher prep programs around the country.  The NCTQ is very specific about what it defines as a teacher prep program.  Table 2 is a list of 11 programs that were reviewed by NCTQ.  But notice the specificity of each program.  For example, the first one is a Master of Arts in Teaching program at Clayton State in English education.  There are also separate programs MA in Teaching programs in mathematics, science, and social studies.

The NCTQ does not even come close to reviewing the state of teacher preparation in Georgia.  My assumption, based on data collected in Georgia, that the low rate of teacher prep review exists in each other state in the nation.

Table 2. Examples of Teacher Prep programs in Georgia reviewed by the NCTQ

Table 2. Examples of Teacher Prep programs in Georgia reviewed by the NCTQ

NCTQ Review is Junk Science, Not an Honest Review of Teacher Prep

Figure 3. Pie Chart Showing How Little of Teacher Prep in Georgia was reviewed by the NCTQ.

Figure 3. Pie Chart Showing How Little of Teacher Prep in Georgia was reviewed by the NCTQ.

Although I focused only on teacher preparation in Georgia, and have shown that the NCTQ Review is not representative of the range and depth of teacher preparation. The NCTQ method is a sorry example of “research.” I evaluated the method of the 2013 NCTQ Review, and found that the NCTQ was an example of junk science, based on M.S. Carolan’s research on junk science.  The NCTQ assumes that teacher prep is failing, and looks to support this view.  The data are circumspect.  The method involves using legal maneuvers to get data from universities, and not seeking data in a collaborative way.  It’s references are meager, and none of their work is based on the large body of work in teacher preparation.  Their review is non-peer reviewed.  There are only a few teacher educators involved in the NCTQ.

The NCTQ review is not a valid review of teacher preparation.  It is anemic and incompetent, as we see in Figure 3.

What are your views on the status of teacher prep in Georgia or in other states?

About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former high school teacher, and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University.