Rob Powers is a high school teacher of social studies in Massachusetts.

He read the report of the National Council on Teacher Quality and saw that it gave a low rating to his alma mater, Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, and he was shocked.

PSU, he wrote, “has been preparing teachers since 1871, a tradition that few schools can match. The institution is fully accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which holds incredibly high standards for its member schools. In fact, PSU has held continuous accreditation since 1954, when it was a member of the first cohort of schools to receive such status.

“Beyond ratings and labels, I can say without a doubt that I have been a successful social studies teacher because I received a top-notch education at Plymouth State. When I entered the classroom, I was completely prepared for all the challenges I faced because I took many practical courses and participated in hundreds of hours of supervised pre-service practicum work at PSU.

“My professors were highly respected experts in the field of education and they work tirelessly with practicing teachers and administrators to make sure that what we learned in our program was directly addressing the ever-changing needs of our K-12 students.”

What Rob doesn’t realize is that NCTQ didn’t visit any of the campuses it ranked, and that only about 10% of the campuses agreed to cooperate with their survey by voluntarily supplying their reading lists and course descriptions. But Rob makes an important point: NCTQ knows nothing about the quality of the faculty at any of the teacher preparation programs. Despite their rhetoric about great teachers, they acted on the assumption that the printed courses were an adequate way of judging the whole institution.