Latest NCTQ Report Blames Vague Assignments for “Easy A’s” in Ed Schools

AACTE Members Leading Efforts to Develop and Rigorously Assess Teacher Candidates

In its latest effort to cast the nation’s schools of education in a negative light, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) today released a report claiming that vague, “criterion-deficient” assignments in educator preparation programs result in too many high grades among teacher candidates, compared with students in other majors at the same institutions. The report, Training Our Future Teachers: Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them, rests on the same meager evidence—mere document reviews—as NCTQ has used in past reports. One of its underlying tenets, however, is important, if not new: that teacher candidates and their readiness to practice must be developed and assessed fully and accurately, an area that is already the subject of intense focus and innovation led by the educator preparation community.

“More than 500 institutions are currently using edTPA,” notes AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson. “This rigorous candidate evaluation and learning process is based on widely agreed-upon professional standards and utilizes a standardized, anonymous review process that ensures fairness through a randomized evaluator assignment. A number of states have also tied edTPA to teacher licensure requirements.”

Like other NCTQ reports, Easy A’s suffers from methodological flaws, inadequate sample sizes, and scant evidence in an attempt to prove that the field of education is subject to disproportionate grade inflation. The authors rely on the review of documents—syllabi and commencement brochures—from only half of the institutions with an undergraduate teacher preparation program to draw conclusions about teacher candidates’ academic performance. The authors concede that one of their primary hypotheses—that criterion-deficient assignments lead to higher grades—was not proven, and the “statistically significant” relationship they found is based on a sample of only seven institutions for which actual average course grades happened to be publicly available.

AACTE will continue to support its member institutions in rigorously and accurately developing and assessing their teacher candidates.

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