Statement from Dean Suárez-Orozco on Evaluation of National Teacher Education Programs

Courses taken by education students are not accurate predictors of content knowledge, teaching skills, or success in today’s challenging urban classrooms.

UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies has been at the forefront of leadership, knowledge, and expertise toward developing new ways of evaluating and strengthening classroom teaching and teacher education programs nationally. We believe strongly in identifying what works well, and then sharing and replicating those practices widely.

Toward that end, I am sharing with you these thoughts on the NCTQ Teacher Prep Review that was issued on June 18, 2013 by U.S. News and World Report and The National Council on Teacher Quality.  This NCTQ review is flawed and does a significant disservice to the public interest by distracting us from the real and urgent issues before us.

In my opinion this is an irresponsible report for a number of reasons. Most importantly, the metrics in the report do not fit our programs. Let me be clear – this report was designed to assess four-year undergraduate education programs, not post-baccalaureate certificate and masters programs like ours in GSE&IS.  Despite our repeated efforts to point out the fundamental methodological limitations, the authors chose to use the same criteria to assess vastly different post-baccalaureate and master’s degree teacher preparation programs.

A further limitation is that the report based the bulk of its findings on course syllabi reviews as well as a tally of the number and type of course offerings.  But evidence tells us that the specific set of courses a teacher education student takes is not an accurate predictor of content knowledge, teaching expertise, or success in today’s challenging urban classrooms. There are multiple measure of teacher effectiveness and multiple measures of quality teacher education programs that are not reflected anywhere in this report.

The report is so lacking that scholars at Teachers College Columbia University point out that they received the highest rating for a program that does not exist.

While we are aligned with the National Council on Teacher Quality in terms of overarching goals – to improve classroom teaching and learning by identifying the most effective practices for preparing classroom teachers – the review process chosen by the NCTQ for this particular report is one that we feel lacked validity and does not in any way contribute to shaping better teacher education programs for our nation.

Our concerns are outlined in this response from University of California Provost Aimée Dorr (former Dean here at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies).

We welcome a dialogue about this important topic of assessment and look forward to facilitating vital and ongoing conversations about the really critical issues of effectively measuring teacher quality, ensuring high quality teacher education programs, and reshaping our nation’s K-12 public education systems to better meet the needs of this new digital, global era.

We thank you for your ongoing support of our work to provide quality K-12 educational opportunities for all our children.

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco
Dean, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies