With the release of the NCTQ ratings of teacher preparation programs, this is a propitious time to review its origins.

It was created by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute. It floundered, then was rescued by a grant of $5 million from Secretary of Education Rod Paige in the early days of the Bush administration. It is not a research organization. It is an advocacy organization.

Its judgments about Ed schools rely heavily on course catalogues and reading lists, not site visits. Its criteria for success include evidence of teaching phonics and preparing to teach the Common Core. If Mr. Smith and Ms. Jones are preparing to teach in a state that did not adopt the Common Core, why should they be prepared to teach it?

When I spoke to the AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education), I advised them to insert the words “Common Core” and “phonics” liberally in their catalogues. The key to higher ratings.