It is no secret that Illinois State is a popular school for aspiring teachers. According to ISU’s website, the College of Education prepares more teachers and administrators than any other Illinois university, with one in four first year teachers in Illinois graduating from ISU. With such statistics, Illinois State has commonly been referred to as one of the best teacher preparation schools in the state.
Therefore it likely came as a shock for many when the National Council of Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a private research group, published a review of many of the nation’s top university education programs with ISU receiving a very poor score. In this review, ISU received a one star out of a possible four. While this may be concerning for some, this editorial board has done research and has found that the NCTQ’s findings are completely without merit.
The NCTQ published their review in 2013, with a majority of the universities reviewed receiving a poor score. However, the criteria that the NCTQ used to evaluate Illinois State and other universities are questionable at best. Even the Washington Post called the NCTQ’s review “nonsense.”
The NCTQ based their scores on their reviews of each university’s course catalogue. They looked for certain language within these catalogues that met their criteria and gave scores accordingly. The NCTQ did not take into account the effectiveness of teachers that graduated from these universities or the quality of instructors. As a result, the NCTQ’s findings are largely surface-level-based with little to no research.
In order to get more insight on the matter, this editorial board was fortunate enough to reach Dr. Perry Schoon, dean of the college of education. The editorial board asked him a few questions, one of which was why Illinois State education majors shouldn’t be concerned with NCTQ’s recent study.
“The study is severely flawed and is not credible. NCTQ grades, ratings and reports on higher education-based teacher preparation programs appear to be based on a common, predictable template that does not reflect a reliable or valuable rating system. Most programs receive a failing grade or score poorly, and a handful of star programs are highlighted,” Schoon said.
Schoon went on to explain why the review ISU received is not credible due to the questionable research techniques the NCTQ used.
“The grade that Illinois State received is severely flawed and is not representative of the quality of education that students receive.
The majority of NCTQ’s standards are not evidence-based, and appear to reflect the specific viewpoint of NCTQ … Rather than providing evidence, the rationale NCTQ provides for many standards appears to be opinion-based, and, in some cases, the rationale includes broad generalizations that many experts would recognize as untrue,” Schoon stated.
Overall, this editorial board has come to the conclusion that the NCTQ’s report is unreliable and should have no effect on how students view the education preparation program here at ISU. NCTQ’s criteria are highly subjective and overall have no real merit.
“We have no intention of adding credibility to this organization by replying to their inaccurate opinion,” Schoon added when asked how ISU intended to respond to the NCTQ’s score.
As Schoon state above, NCTQ’s grade of ISU is simply an opinion. Education majors here at Illinois State should continue to take comfort in knowing that they are in one of the best teacher preparation schools in the state, and that this university will continue to strive to give them the best education possible.