To the Editor:
In his letter to the editor (“Indiana Dean Questions NCTQ Research Standards,” Jan. 8, 2014) Gerardo Gonzalez, a professor and dean at Indiana University’s school of education, questioned the results of the recent National Council on Teacher Quality teacher-preparation study.
As educators in Indiana, alumni of three Indiana teacher-preparation programs, and current Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows, we felt compelled to respond. Rather than focusing on the methodology of the NCTQ study, teacher-preparation programs should voluntarily and publicly report the outcomes of their programs.
Arguing over methodology removes focus from what we, as practitioners, know is important: ensuring educators are adequately prepared from their first day in front of students. We know this is currently not the case.
Just as we are held accountable for our students’ performance, traditional and nontraditional teacher-preparation programs alike should be held accountable for their teachers’ performance. Accreditation councils should apply tighter standards on the programs they accredit.
For public colleges and universities, states should require public reporting of alumni survey data and evaluation outcomes for alumni of preparation programs. While programs resistant to accountability may claim that they have little control over outcomes once students leave, we as educators could make the same argument about our own students. We feel responsible for students’ performance in our classrooms and their achievement once they leave. Teacher-preparation programs should feel that same sense of responsibility for their alumni.
It is time for a tough conversation about teacher preparation, but it should not get lost in a fight about research methodology. We would like to challenge Dean Gonzalez to take the lead in creating a framework that holds preparation programs accountable for their graduates’ performance. Greater accountability for preparation programs is essential in ensuring that students have access to high-quality, effective educators. We know we can do better.
Natalie Merz, Jacob Pactor, Jennifer Rogers
Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows
Teach Plus Indianapolis
The founder and chief executive officer of Teach Plus, Celine Coggins, serves on the advisory board of the National Council on Teacher Quality.
A version of this article appeared in the January 29, 2014 edition of Education Week as Tough Conversation Needed On Teacher Training