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July 11, 2013

Cleveland State rated low in NCTQ study

College of Education disputes teacher quality report

By Christina Sanders

Recently, the National Council of Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released a new teacher preparation study that, once again, educational leaders nationwide found to not be very useful.

As in the past, the methodology used to determine the results of the study are being disputed and brought into question by colleges of education around the country.

The recent report used data obtained from over 600 schools. The main controversial finding is that the majority of the teacher preparation programs in the country are not preparing their students to effectively teach in a 21st century classroom.

The council reviewed course descriptions, syllabi and textbooks used by teacher preparation programs to determine that the majority U.S. universities are not properly equipping future teachers to deal with numerous classroom issues such as diversity of students (race and socioeconomic), how to properly teach young children to effectively read, technological advancements and understand mathematical concepts.

Only four universities received three or four stars out of the four-star rating system. Ohio State University was the nation’s top performer, receiving four out of four stars for their elementary and secondary education programs.

The majority of the schools in the study – even top schools such as Harvard University – did not receive passing grades.

Cleveland State University was one the universities that received a failing grade. According to a representative from NCTQ, Cleveland State’s undergraduate and graduate elementary education programs did not contain content that was relevant to being an effective instructor in today’s society.

The council found that Cleveland State’s programs do not require students to meet rigorous enough standards to cause the programs to be considered programs worthy of even one star rating.

Cleveland State’s programs, undergraduate and graduate, were rated less than one star. Both programs received a warning symbol, which cautions prospective consumers against enrolling in the program.

According to Kate Moyer, associate director of teacher preparation at the National Council of Teacher Quality, the council rates teacher preparation programs on a number of factors such as the ease of entrance into a program.

One of the reasons Cleveland State scored poorly is because the graduate program does not require applicants to have at least a 3.0 GPA, and does not require standardized tests that help colleges determine a students’ readiness for graduate level coursework such as GRE and other tests.

Moyer also said that the study found that Cleveland State’s undergraduate education program does not properly instruct future teachers on how to teach young children reading using scientifically based reading components -- phonemic awareness, fluency, phonetic, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies.

Although the council rated Cleveland State’s programs poorly, Moyer acknowledged that Cleveland State’s special education program and undergraduate math education programs were strong.

Dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Cleveland State Sajit Zachariah found the councils’ study to be mostly baseless.

“The work overall was shoddy,” Zachariah said. “You can not determine a program by simply looking at syllabi.

Universities like Harvard and Stanford, us to be rated the way they did was shoddy”.

Moyer insists that the study isn’t meant to embarrass or cause harm to universities, but hopes that the ratings will inspire institutions to change their curriculum to meet the needs of today’s students and better equip future teachers with the tools needed to successfully manage a classroom.

“We are hoping that the reading will cause alarm and change,” Moyer said. “We’re hoping that they will look to each other to figure out ways to better train and equip future teachers.”

Cleveland State University’s upper level staff was taken aback by the rating because the College of Education and Human Services is highly regarded as one of the top programs, regionally and nationally.

In addition to its reputation, the college has worked extensively to be a leader in teaching future teachers how to use new educational technology.

A new teacher licensure program put in place at Cleveland State also requires students to complete a student teaching video that will be graded nationally.

In order to receive their teacher licensure, they must pass that test, which will be graded by faculty from universities around the nation.

According to associate dean Brian Yusko, Cleveland State isn’t the only one to be critical of the council’s methodology.

“The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) has been critical of the methodology of this study ever since the data collection was begun in fall of 2011,” Yusko said.

“As a result of these criticisms, many institutions refused to voluntarily submit information, so NCTQ sued some institutions and used public records requests to get additional materials.

Cleveland State complied voluntarily with their requests because we believe we have nothing to hide, even though we have also been critical of the study.”

The first of its kind in terms of the national scale of the study, NCTQ has conducted 10 other pilot studies over eight years at the state level.

According to the findings of the evaluation, which can be found on the council’s website, one of the main problems that is leading to under-performance by American students in the classroom has to do largely with the lackluster teacher preparation programs.

According to them, 99 percent of future teachers are enrolled at colleges and universities around the country.

Dean of Southern Methodist University’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development David Chard acknowledged some validity in the councils’ study.

Although he didn’t find the study to be completely accurate, mainly because of the lack of documents gathered by the council that was used to evaluate the institutions, he did notice a trend that he felt the nation’s universities need to acknowledge.

“Findings are that, as a nation, we are under-equipping new teachers for the needs of today’s classroom,” Chard said in a recent interview with the Dallas Morning News.

In spite of the council’s partnership with U.S. News Report, Cleveland State and other universities are not worried about the rating report impacting the rankings and reputation of the education program and the university as a whole.

“Because of the editorials, and just the reputation of the organization, I don’t think that it will that much of an impact,” Zachariah said.

“Many reviews and editorials agree that the work done by the council was shoddy.”

Zachariah believes that one of the flaws of the report by the council is that they failed to make a visit to any of the colleges that they rated to correctly analyze the programs.

“NCATE makes a visit and does an in-depth evaluation of the programs,” Zachariah said. “This council is just asking for syllabi. You can’t judge a program just by looking at syllabi.”

According to the deans, Cleveland State University’s website and NCATE’s website, Cleveland State’s College of Education and Human Services is accredited by the NCATE at two levels, Initial Teacher Preparation (ITP) and Advanced Preparation (ADV).

Ohio State University is also a NCATE accredited institution at the same two levels as Cleveland State.

The National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education uses performance based accreditation to ensure high teacher quality.

NCATE is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as a professional accrediting body of teacher preparation. The council accredits 670 institutions.

Zachariah pointed out that, in spite of the negative rating, Cleveland State students enrolled in the teacher preparation program often perform well on licensure tests.

Moyer argues that, in spite of high student achievement, the program itself is a weak one.

“It is absolutely possible that strong teachers might come out of a weak program,” Moyer said. the value of one teacher doesn’t add to the value of a program.”

The entire report can be found on the National Council of Teacher Quality’s website www.nctq.org