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NCTQ Gets Caught in a Data Collecting Lie

May 23, 2014

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) will be “grading” university-level, traditional teacher training programs again soon.

Last year, 2013, they released this report on June 18. They “grade” in a superficial manner, relying upon program artifacts to form skewed judgments– judgments that they publish in US News and World Report and that are meant to damage the credibility of traditional teacher training in favor of the privatization of American public education. Just consider who ends up on their advisory board. (For example, in a profound irony, NCTQ’s board even includes five-weeks-of-training, temporary-teacher organization Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp.)

Georgia State University Professor Emeritus of Science Education Jack Hassard had this to note about reading NCTQ’s “report” on traditional teacher training programs:

When you read the NCTQ report it seems as if teacher prep institutions are the enemy. …All of the data come from paper or online documents. None involved interviews or discussions with people at the teacher prep institutions. As hard as this is believe, it is the pattern that the NCTQ has followed since it was formed by the Thomas Fordham Institute. [Emphasis added.]

Passing maligned judgment is what NCTQ does. And because their reporting is done with much fanfare and is backed by reformer cash (Gates alone has paid NCTQ $11 million since 2005), the public views NCTQ as a credible source for information on teacher education.

Why, NCTQ will even grade a program that doesn’t exist.

NCTQ is the creation of the Fordham Institute, a pro-privatization organization that is pushing hard for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), having itself taken over $6 million from Gates, $2 million of which is earmarked for the CCSS push. Fordham Institute’s VP Mike Petrilli is even willing to tell states with comparable or better standards that they should retain CCSS.

Back to NCTQ’s shallow “reviews” of teacher training:

The beauty of NCTQ’s grading teacher training programs based upon artifacts (as opposed to on-site observations and in-person, open communication with the evaluated programs) is that NCTQ is still able to complete its “evaluations” even when programs do not wish to participate.

As far as non-accredited, self-appointed traditional-teacher-training policeman NCTQ is concerned, programs are not allowed to refuse the NCTQ intrusion.

NCTQ insists upon gathering teacher training program artifacts, and it will resort to deceptive tactics to get those artifacts.

Consider this email sent to a Fordham University teacher education professor even today (May 23, 2014). The entire account was forwarded to me by Fordham University Associate Professor John Craven. (Note: Fordham University is not affiliated with the Fordham Institute):

Dear Professor **,

I was informed you would be able to assist me.  My daughter is currently looking at different grad programs.  Being a teacher myself, I have a question about the student teaching aspect of the program.  I was on the school website and couldn’t find how many formal observations are conducted by the university supervisor during the student teaching semester.  Could you please elaborate on this?

Thank you.

Emilie Baker [Emphasis added.]

An odd email: A teacher “parent” writing on behalf of a college-age “student” and singling out the number of formal observations??

The Fordham professor to whom this email was addressed wrote the following to Craven and others:

I’m pretty sure this would be an attempt to get information from us for NCTQ (or similar) purposes.  Have any of you received something similar?

Teacher training faculty are apparently alert to NCTQ’s tactics.

Craven responded to “Emilie Baker” on behalf of the initial Fordham faculty member:

Dear Ms. Baker,

As coordinator, I’ve been forwarded a request you recently made regarding our program.  Firstly, let me thank you for your interest in our programs at Fordham.  Secondly, I understand you are seeking to better understand our clinically rich programs (funded by NYSED) and scholarship opportunities for initial certification.  It would be my pleasure to mail you a copy of our scholarship program, student handbook, and requirements for field experiences.  Following internal policies, I need to send hard copies of these materials  to interested prospects and potential applicants.  Accordingly, can you please indicate where you would like these materials sent?  I’ll have my graduate assistant send out the information immediately upon our response to this email.  Again, thank you for your interest in the programs at Fordham.

JC

“Emilie Baker” offers the following response– including an address:

 

Great, thanks so much!  I’d like it all sent to the following address:

Andrew McCorry 

1823 W. Henderson St, #3

Chicago, IL 60657

 

Well, now. Who is Andrew McCorry in Chicago?

Craven investigated and uncovered the following linkedin bio:

Andrew McCorry

Andrew McCorry

Research Analyst at National Council on Teacher Quality

Greater Chicago Area 
Nonprofit Organization Management

Uh oh. Looks like NCTQ has been found out.

As for “Emilie Baker”: No information that clearly connects her to NCTQ is available. However, NCTQ is known for hiring students to collect teacher training program artifacts (as noted in these Central Washington University October 2011 meeting minutes).

In his review of the 2013 NCTQ “report,” Hassard notes the unorthodox “student solicitation” role:

…I’ve never read a study in which researchers demanded cooperation from the research participants. The NCTQ policy is very clear. If you don’t give us what we want we’ll use legal means to get it. They also “reached out” to a few students to supply materials that were requested from the administration.

The so-called NCTQ researchers not only resort to coercive strategies to get data (syllabi, curriculum, etc.), but you get the feeling that they snoop around universities, trying to find what texts are used by bookstore shopping. [Emphasis added.]

NCTQ has cleaned up its website; its solicitation of student (and other) “assistance” with collecting information used to force its judgments upon traditional teacher training programs is now not as obvious. However, I used “the way back machine” to perform a comparison of the NCTQ website in February 2013 to the site today.  Below is the overt appeal NCTQ used to have on its website (dated February 25, 2013):

We’re keeping no secrets; everything you want to know can be found on our website.

We are appealing to students on public and private campuses to help by sharing these basic materials in order that we can produce a fair and valid rating of program quality. We are paying stipends of $25 to $200 for the materials we need (much less than what many institutions are effectively charging).

If you can’t help us directly, send this notice on to three friends. Like us on FacebookTweet using the hashtag #teacherprep. See which institutions we’re rating and still need documents from.

So much for “keeping no secrets”; here’s the cleaned-up version of the the same link as it appears on May 24, 2014. No overt appeal.

I guess NCTQ is trying to keep some secrets now, after all. (Read more about NCTQ and its secret-keeping in my book.)

The NCTQ “snooping” apparently incorporates direct-yet-deceptive solicitation of information from university departments of education.

NCTQ should really better “train” its information gatherers in their would-be-deceptive practices.

Otherwise, they might reveal more information about NCTQ than they manage to gather– and that NCTQ “research analyst” Andrew McCorry might prefer.

 

17 Comments
  1. Hannah permalink

    It just gets deeper and deeper… and stinkier and stinkier. Tsk, tsk, tsk… .

  2. I’d say “unbelievable” but it is totally believable.

  3. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Anyone can be hired to help NCTQ put the screws on teacher education programs. They are paid $20 dollars an hour to gather course descriptions and syllabi, then use a checklist of all the traits Gates et al want to see in a program. The criteria are listed at the website, I found them an “echo” of test-em-til-they drop. Reading your book and enjoying it. Lots of competition for time. I will put alert arts education faculty in teacher education listserve.

  4. NCTQ gave a poor rating to our local university’s K-6 program– a program that didn’t actually exist (instead they were running k-4 and 4-8 programs). And, as has been widely reported, nobody from NCTQ ever spoke to anyone running the programs at the university.

  5. I’m SHOCKED at this. SHOCKED, I tell you.😛

  6. I am sending to the Louisiana Board of Regents and Dr. Jeanne Burns, Associate Commissioner of
    Teacher and Leadership Initiatives, Louisiana Board of Regents. She had offered to meet with me to discuss numerous issues about which I have corresponded, most recently my questions as to how entrenched our teacher education colleges were in CCSS. I had previously sent her your blogs on NCTQ. Supt. White had recently asked BESE to approve a policy change to allow programs outside of our unversity certified teacher Ed programs to approve teacher trainng. Dr. Burns testified recommending “caution.” Maybe now she will meet with both of us if you are available.

  7. A faculty member at a well-regarded teacher prep program in Massachusetts told me that NCTQ gave them a *choice* about participating in the *study.* If the program failed to cough up syllabi, etc, NCTQ would buy the materials from a student. In other words, *market-based*! Great work, Mercedes. I think NCTQ should plan a little college road trip with the whole family.

  8. Andrew appears to be “highly qualified” for his HB as snoop.
    Short but interesting background on Andrew. Graduated Notre Dame 2010, with a degree in psych, volunteer worker for Catholic Worker House 2010/11:
    “Our rule is the works of mercy,” said Dorothy Day. “It is the way of sacrifice, worship, a sense of reverence.”
    According to co-founder Peter Maurin, the following are the beliefs of the Catholic Worker:[8]
    gentle personalism of traditional Catholicism.
    personal obligation of looking after the needs of our brother.
    daily practice of the Works of Mercy.
    Houses of Hospitality for the immediate relief of those who are in need.
    establishment of Farming Communes where each one works according to his ability and receives according to his need.
    creating a new society within the shell of the old[9] with the philosophy of the new.

    Then 10 months with Wittigs Office Interiors (office furniture) before being hooked up with NCTQ in CHICAGO! as a “research analyst.”

  9. therlo permalink

    The fact that Wendy Kopp is involved, and “they” love to eat her up, what with all that 5 weeks of training that her operation offers as being the best training, as opposed to/versus traditional Ed degrees and months of internship/student teaching/clinical teaching, is the most telling of all. Such nonsense. They should all be sued.

  10. Rochelle Porto permalink

    Great information as always. This article is another reason why I’m terribly disappointed with Thomas Fordham Foundation. I can’t believe that they are buying into this corporate take over over of education. At one time I believed that Bill Bennett former secretary of Education under Reagan and his under chair – Checker Finn TF founder, were on the right track for education reform, but then I remember Bill Bennett is a former Democrat before he worked for Reagan. Bennett, like Jeb Bush are CCSS cheerleaders, although Bennett has stated he now has reservations. But his possible change of heart is due to the many listeners to his radio station who have rightfully reported the ideology that’s co-opted the original idea to improve American Education.

    While I believe in true school choice, I don’t believe misrepresenting the entire teaching industry is bad as the Fordham Foundation often reports that public educators aren’t educating the youth of today. Government needs to get out all together.

    Thanks for this article. I have a friend at a teacher’s college here in Phila area. She may know more. Her university received Gates $ to make sure Common Core is fully implemented in Philly schools around her University area. By the way, some of the links didn’t connect to the sources you cited.

    Again thanks for the great information.

    Rochelle Porto, M.Ed. ra.port@1791.com

    “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”-Margaret Mead

    • Rochelle, the only links not working are the links inside of the dead NCTQ web page. The page is only a picture of what used to be.

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