According to the Providence Journal, Rhode Island won plaudits from the National Council on Teacher Quality. The newspaper, which is notorious for its inattention to background, describes NCTQ as a “nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy group.”
This is not accurate. As I have described on this blog in detail, NCTQ was created in 2000 by the rightwing Thomas B. Fordham Foundation at a time when I was a member of the board. It was created specifically to harass teacher-education institutions and to advance an agenda in which untrained teachers could win certification by passing a test.
As I explained in this post, NCTQ floundered about, seeking a strategy and was rescued in 2001 when George W. Bush’s secretary of education Rod Paige gave NCTQ an unrestricted grant of $5 million to keep it alive. The teacher test it created, called the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, eventually was turned over to another company that sells online certification for only $1995.00. Is that a high-quality way to prepare teachers for the nation’s children?
The board of NCTQ is dominated by corporate reformers. It may have members from both parties, but it is certainly NOT non-partisan. It is hostile to teacher education and infatuated with the idea that test scores are both the measure and the outcome of education.
Its recent, widely heralded report on the nation’s schools of education–which found all but four to be inadequate–was based on a review of their reading lists and syllabi, not on actual visits to the campuses. This was supposed to show the power of “Big Data,” that is, making judgments without any personal interactions, but it really demonstrated that the NCTQ review was a hit job on teacher education. I always have been a tough critic of teacher education, but I also believe that you can’t grade an institution without ever setting foot in its buildings or interviewing its professors and students.
The Providence Journal should have done a few minutes of research on the Internet before lauding the findings of the NCTQ report on Rhode Island. What they have done here is journalism by press release. That’s not journalism. That’s lazy.