Preview of NCTQ's "rating clearinghouse" for our national review of teacher prep

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With last Thursday's release of Student Teaching in the United States, there's been a barrage of criticism from teacher educators. Borrowing refrains from their previous critiques, they claim documents are "reviewed by people we do not know, against rubrics we are not privileged to see" or "we don't know how they arrive at [ratings]" or "[they conduct an evaluation that] is not in the least transparent" or "[we were rated poorly] because we didn't use the magic words they require."

We've defended our evaluation process until we're blue in the face, and have decided that an example here from one of the 1,086 ratings in the student teaching review would demonstrate the integrity of our rating process beyond any reasonable doubt.  An example would also provide a great preview of the "rating clearinghouse" approach we will be conducting in our national review of teacher preparation.

For this example, we've picked a rating on Standard 2 in the student teaching review, which requires that the teacher preparation program select the cooperating teacher for each student teaching placement.  This is an important standard:  What little solid research there is on student teaching confirms that the selection of cooperating teachers by the teacher preparation program is associated with the candidate's ultimate effectiveness as a classroom teacher.

Contrary to the claims of our critics that we are demanding "absolute control over the selection process" , an institution can meet this standard if it simply plays an active and responsible role in working with the district in selecting the cooperating teacher. And for evidence of such a role, we would, for example, accept an institution's form that it gives to principals to nominate cooperating teachers — so long as the form included criteria aside from years of experience.

The teacher preparation program in this example sent us a student teaching handbook stating that the school district, not program itself, makes the final selection of the cooperating teacher:

"b.) The assignment of Student Teachers and Pre-service Candidates shall be made by the District after consultation with the potential Cooperating Teacher and Principal with whom the assignment is made." (emphasis added)

NCTQ gave its preliminary rating — "does not meet the standard" — to the institution and asked for additional information.

In response, the institution pointed us back to clause b.) in the handbook and claimed that it meant that "if the District agrees with our selection of cooperating teacher (sic), the placement process is complete."

A series of interchanges ensued, but in none of them did the institution provide documents that substantiated its selection of the cooperating teacher — a process which would, in any case, contradict the clear meaning of the clause cited in the handbook. NCTQ concluded that the institution failed to meet the standard.

Here's the full account of the rating process, which should give our readers a good sense of how we gather and evaluate data to rate on a standard. And when the national review is completed, we'll share how we arrived at our ratings so the public can judge our fairness and accuracy for itself.