U.S. News & World Report/National Council on Teacher Quality Rankings

New! Dean Carine Feyten's op-ed on the NCTQ rankings

FAQ regarding the NCTQ rankings

Statement from Dean Carine M. Feyten: Carine Feyten

At Miami University’s College of Education, Health and Society, we understand that among the tools parents and students use in choosing a university are rankings that compare entire universities or particular programs.

Yet we must add a note of caution: Not all rankings are the same.

The most recent set of rankings of programs in colleges of education were compiled by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), and released by U.S. News & World Report on June 18. Numerous universities across the nation have received poor “grades” based upon the criteria of NCTQ.

In their four-star ranking system, Miami’s School of Education received a four-star rating in “selection criteria,” an area of very special significance to NCTQ. We also received what NCTQ terms a “gold cup” for “outcomes.”

But very concerning was our lack of ranking in the areas of classroom management and student teaching—both being areas that are strong for us, enhanced by our innovative TeachLIVE™ lab designed specifically to hone classroom management.

Most confounding is that our overall rating is in sharp contrast to the 2013 U.S. News & World Report that ranked Miami University 1st nationally among public universities for best teaching and in the top three overall, just after Dartmouth and Princeton. Our teacher education program clearly shares in that recognition.

So what is the cause of the discrepancy in rankings published by U.S. News & World Report?

As early as 2010, the Schools of Education Learning Collaborative, Eduventures, produced an in-depth analysis of the NCTQ methodology, followed by concerns raised by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Chronicle of Higher Education—and a host of others.

We strongly support the rigorous assessment of teaching and teacher preparation programs. We believe it is crucial that we be held accountable to our students, to the schools that employ our graduates, as well as to parents and taxpayers.

To ensure that accountability, we continually seek and undergo extensive review by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the most rigorous national accrediting program in our field. We are very proud of the results of this accreditation process and never stop assessing our programs to ensure that we prepare the best teachers for tomorrow’s schools.

Why, then, do we take issue with the recent reports released NCTQ? We challenge the value of these reports because we believe that the NCTQ rating process is fundamentally flawed. With its emphasis on inputs (textbooks, syllabi, course descriptions, etc.) rather than outcomes, the NCTQ data fail to report the most significant measures of our teacher preparation program: the quality and effectiveness of our graduates.  

The NCTQ does not consider graduate achievement as a reflection of a school’s success. Instead, they recommend increased testing as the direct path to education reform. We must question whether this path will only encourage teachers, as well as teacher candidates, “to teach and learn to the test,” as we’ve seen happen in the past in response to ill-considered policies.

The NCTQ also recommends alternate teacher preparation routes. Paradoxically, they advise lower standards for these alternatives than those required currently by schools of education.

For our part, we are confident that the accomplishments of our alumni and the vibrancy of our nationally accredited programs remain the best evidence of Miami University’s commitment: to develop caring, competent, and transformative leaders. Our students deserve no less.

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