The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a private organization stating that it "advocates for reforms" on its website, released a controversial report on June 18, evaluating college and university teacher preparation programs. The report's conclusions were met with skepticism by colleges and universities across the nation because of the methodology for data collection and interpretation employed by NCTQ. Some institutions have pointed out that the study ranked programs that are non-existent. Such major errors indicate there was little or no quality control or fact checking of the data and results.
Holy Family University was one of many institutions invited to take part in the study but chose not to participate because of these issues and, additionally, because the NCTQ used standards that differed from the rigorous Pennsylvania State Department of Education (PDE) instructional certification requirements that Holy Family follows.
The university's lack of participation resulted in the NCTQ ranking aspects of the elementary education program poorly. In the interest of transparency, Holy Family would like to address numerous issues with the report.
1. NCTQ's study results for Holy Family are invalid.
Since Holy Family chose not to participate in this study, the NCTQ could not have had sufficient materials to support their claims. To date, it is not known what information they used to determine their collected "data" as they have refused to provide such information (and also did not furnish their report to Holy Family before it was released on their website).
2. NCTQ was mistaken in its poor rankings for Holy Family's program.
The elementary education program was ranked poorly for selection criteria while other institutions' programs with similar criteria were ranked highly. The NCTQ selection ranking runs counter to the fact that the university requires education graduates to maintain a 3.0 GPA to receive their Holy Family education degree, and it is mandated that they achieve passing scores on the Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) to be admitted to the School of Education in the first place.
Early Reading/ Common Core Mathematics/ Common Core Elementary Content
Education students take multiple courses to ensure competency in these fields. For example, all education students must take three courses in reading instruction-two in their sophomore year and one in their junior year. Additionally, they must take six credits in mathematics and pass the state required test in mathematics as part of their degree requirements. Finally, academic core requires students to take six credits of science, six of composition and literature, and nine credits in American and global history.
3. NCTQ did not measure outcomes of any program.
Holy Family education students have excelled post-graduation. Just this past year, four alumni were honored with Lindback Awards in the Philadelphia School District.
"Council Rock School District has enjoyed an outstanding relationship with Holy Family University. The difficult task of preparing new teachers for their complex roles in classrooms today requires a dynamic partnership between school districts and higher education. Holy Family provides well-prepared student teachers to our school district, and we collaborate with Holy Family in providing a comprehensive induction process for our new teachers. Despite the report that we have seen in the past month, our experience with Holy Family-the Education Department, their preservice teachers, and their graduates-are evidence, to us, of a program of the highest quality," said Mark Klein, Esquire, Superintendent of Schools, Council Rock School District.
Holy Family University welcomes constructive, thoughtful, and well-researched evaluation of academic programs. Just two years ago, it successfully completed the Middle States accreditation process and is compliant with the PDE's program requirements for certifying teachers, requirements that are constantly evaluated and updated on the state level. Additionally, the university recognizes that the education system in the United States needs to be studied and course-corrected in many instances on all levels, from teacher-training and continuing teacher education to school curriculum and school programs. Holy Family appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with researchers who seek these goals in an ethical and responsible manner and to thereby participate in continuous improvement of the training of teachers at all levels and in all university programs. Unfortunately, the NCTQ study does not meet these criteria.
Holy Family University is a premier Catholic university offering more than 40 undergraduate, graduate and accelerated degree programs. The University’s main campus is in Northeast Philadelphia, with additional locations in Bensalem and Newtown, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1954 by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth as a private, not-for-profit, faith-inspired community, Holy Family University propels graduates to purpose-driven, values-centered lives through outstanding academic programs, flexible delivery options, manifold experiential learning opportunities, supportive career development and deep personal connections. Visit www.holyfamily.edu for more information.