Research News

New study takes hard look at National Council on Teacher Quality’s ratings of teacher prep programs

Peabody's Wyatt Center (Vanderbilt)

The study, conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, found that classroom teachers working in North Carolina who graduated from programs that meet NCTQ’s standards were more effective at raising students’ test scores in 15 out of 124 comparisons, less effective in 5 comparisons, and no different in 104 comparisons.

“For some time, education schools have argued that the methodology employed by NCTQ to evaluate teacher preparation programs lacks scientific validity—now there’s proof,” said Camilla Benbow, the Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development at Peabody. “It will be interesting to see if further studies in additional states bear out these findings, but Henry and Bastian have offered a compelling reason to regard NCTQ’s work skeptically.”

Gary Henry (Vanderbilt)

Gary Henry, the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy and Education at Peabody, is a lead investigator on the study.

“If teacher prep programs focus attention and resources on meeting standards to raise their ratings, their efforts should pay off in terms of better teachers and more demonstrated student learning,” Henry said. “Meeting many of the NCTQ standards does not appear to lead to higher performing teachers. Other standards, however, do appear to yield benefits.”

The premise behind setting consistent national standards and rating teacher preparation programs is simple: Programs that meet the standards and receive higher ratings should graduate more effective teachers. NCTQ, a nonpartisan research and policy organization, rates teacher preparation programs based on 19 input and process-based standards in its biennial Teacher Prep Review.

The Vanderbilt/UNC study, conducted in collaboration with NCTQ as a part of the University of North Carolina system’s ongoing teacher-quality research efforts, did not find strong relationships between the performance of teacher preparation program graduates working in North Carolina and NCTQ’s overall program ratings.

Henry, with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kevin Bastian, assessed the relationships between NCTQ’s overall teacher preparation program ratings, scores on NCTQ’s teacher preparation program standards, and two key measures of teacher performance—value added to student achievement, and evaluation ratings for all novice North Carolina teachers who graduated from a program rated by NCTQ.

The findings for these two NCTQ standards suggest potential directions for improving the performance of teacher preparation program graduates. First, there is evidence that teacher preparation programs that systematically and routinely obtain outcomes data and track their graduates’ performance produce more effective graduates.

Second, results suggest that setting higher standards for admissions into teacher preparation programs may help improve future outcomes for prospective teachers. This finding is aligned with the new admissions standards set by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

“Meeting the NCTQ Elementary Math standard was not associated with elementary teachers’ performance in raising their students’ math scores,” said Bastian, senior research associate and director of the UNC Teacher Quality Research Initiative. “On the other hand, programs that met NCTQ’s selection standards produced higher performing graduates, particularly those that required applicants to have SAT scores above 1120 or ACT scores above 24.”

The research was conducted as part of the UNC Teacher Research Initiative.

Read the brief, “Measuring Up: The National Council on Teacher Quality’s Ratings of Teacher Preparation Programs and Measures of Teacher Performance.

Read the NCTQ’s formal response to the research findings.