Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rethinking Evaluation of Teacher Colleges- New Evaluation Running Into Some Controversy

Excepted from an article in Education Week by Stephen Sawchuk entitled, "Grading of Teacher Colleges to Be Revamped"

The organizer of a plan to review all 1,400 schools of education and publish the findings in U.S. News and World Report is altering several key aspects of its methodology—an attempt, officials for the group say, to respond to mounting complaints about the study.

The National Council of Teacher Quality posted its grading criteria online Wednesday morning to address concerns among education school deans that the review wouldn’t be transparent or accurate. It also plans to supplement the content-based analysis at the heart of its methodology with information on candidate classroom performance culled from “value added” data.

The report’s methodology is largely based on pilot reviews conducted last year of education schools in Illinois and Texas, and as such, its methodology differs markedly from that used in other U.S. News projects.

Rather than rankings, the council will rate all programs on an A-to-F scale on up to 17 standards. They include whether teachers are adequately trained in the science of reading and math; the length and coherence of their field experiences; and whether their programs include training on working with English-language learners.

After the council sent initial requests to education schools in late January, two distinct groups of deans organized and publicly objected to the review in letters to U.S. News.

One of them was signed by about 35 education school deans belonging to institutions within the Association of American Universities, an organization of elite research institutions. A smaller group of education school deans at institutions that have received teacher-training grants from the Spencer Foundation, sent another complaint. Additional letters could be forthcoming from state-oriented groups of deans in New Jersey and Illinois, but none was confirmed at press time.

Among other complaints, the deans alleged incomplete standards, a flawed research methodology, and scoring criteria that were not transparent.

Many deans are in the position of Richard De Lisi, the dean of the education school at Rutgers University, in New Jersey, who is still weighing whether to take part in the review.

“It’s unfortunate that this can be painted as shying away from evaluation,” Mr. De Lisi said. “But that’s not what it’s really about. You have to have judgment criteria that are clear and evidence everyone can see.”

Ms. Brabeck of NYU echoed that sentiment.

“I don’t know what NYU will do,” she said.

Picture: "Parade- Hoboken, New Jersey" (1955) Robert Frank