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29 February 2016 @ 08:05 pm
Quality Check  
NCTQ has once again issued report cards for teacher preparation programs. Here are the criteria for their grading:

The report cards assess programs on seven criteria:

*Admission selectivity, such as grade point average expectations and other requirements, such as auditions or tests;
*Content knowledge, such as concentrations in the subjects the teacher candidate will be teaching and the depth of quality of the topics covered in those subjects;
*Teaching the subject area, to see whether students are required to take methods courses specific to the subject they've chosen to teach;
*Student teaching, rated especially on how often the student teacher is given feedback;
*Classroom management, with a focus on how the student teacher are taught strategies for managing student behavior;
*Assessing classroom learning, including how to interpret and apply data from different kinds of tests; and
*Rigor, which compares the number of teacher candidates who graduate with honors against the number of all students in the institution doing the same.

Most of these criteria are assessed through documents. There are no si visits, no trips to classrooms where students are honing their skills. Instead, there is a reliance on syllabi, course catalogs, and more. I have a sneaky feeling that if NCTQ were to evaluate my course based solely on the materials they can access online (and they cannot access all of my course materials unless they are IN my class), they would probably award me an "F." Here is why.

Admission to the program is a simple 3.0 GPA for the final 60 hours of undergrad work. We want to be as inclusive as we can, so we long ago eliminated GRE requirements. We are more likely to maintain the high level of enrollment from underrepresented groups if admissions is kept simple.

Content knowledge? We meet the standards and elements of our accreditation agencies. The fact that our students pass the certification exams should be testament to this. But where is this mirrored other than the syllabus and the test results? What organizations such as NCTQ will not see are the elements of our classes: screencasts, FTF asynchronous meetings, checkpoints, and even benchmarks.

As for RIGOR, I think it would be almost impossible to measure with the materials they have at hand. The fact that my YA student red an average of 2 books a week and children's lit requires they read about 10 books a week on the average. But it is not just the expectation of reading quantity that makes something "rigorous." There is so much more. No outside organization will see what adds up to "rigor" (though how I hate that term,

So, I wil ignore the grades assigned by an outside agency. I will, instead, focus on what students learn and how they apply that knowledge on the job. If I do that, I know what the final product will be: more lifelong readers being encouraged and supported.
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