The lack of participation by many programs may have led to inaccurate data. Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at Stanford University, claims to have found numerous errors in the report. For example, Darling-Hammond was surprised to find that Columbia University received poor marks for its teacher preparation program. However, no such program exists at the school. When notified about the error, NCTQ responded that the school offers a minor in “Urban Teaching track childhood education.” Columbia administrators insist they have no such program, though there is one at neighbouring Barnard College.
Darling-Hammond also found errors with the NCTQ’s evaluation of the program at the University of California at Santa Barbara. UCSB was given a low rank in part because its elementary math courses failed to meet standards. But Darling-Hammond insists that NCTQ evaluators either missed the courses or rated them erroneously. “Their ratings are not plausible when the details of the [courses] are known,” she said.
An issue worth exploring
While many experts are not impressed with the substance of the NCQT report, they tend to agree that education preparation programs in this country need improvement.
"While I have seen many strong teacher education programs, there are many others that are very weak and need major improvements," said Darling-Hammond. She also acknowledged that the areas NCTQ rated are important areas of focus.
Fueur agrees, but cautions that more work needs to be done to create a better method for grading the programs: "Evaluation of teacher education is at least as complex as the evaluation of teaching and is worthy of the best and most rigorous methods. Reports like this one trivialize the task and undermine efforts to ensure that our future teachers acquire the skills and knowledge needed for the lives in classrooms. There is surely room for improvement in the world of teacher preparation — as there is in all professions — but the NCTQ report provides an inadequate basis upon which to design and implement positive reforms."
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