February 17, 2011 Dr. Paul Zionts, Dean School of Education DePaul University 1 East Jackson Blvd. Chicago, Illinois 60604 Dear Dr. Zionts: Your entry of February 10, 2011 on a listserv for teacher educators (attached) has come to our attention. I thought it might be helpful to share NCTQâ€™s own perspective on the issues that you raise, not just to you, but to others who might have an interest. As the tone and language in the attached emails from NCTQ to you illustrate quite clearly, we never gave you the sort of flippant response to your appeals that you now claim. That we do not always reverse our ratings based on an appeal by an institution does not mean that those appeals were not given the thorough consideration they were due, as the attached record of email correspondence clearly demonstrates. Though I doubt I can persuade you, perhaps others may appreciate this distinction. First, you suggest that NCTQ generally refused to change ratings based on new information, that we always had our mind made up from the start. In fact, as the result of an extensive conversation and consideration of materials submitted by DePaul, we changed its ratings on four standards. How do you reconcile our willingness to make those changes with your charge? Second, you also claim that we evaluated the only section of a seven-section course in reading instruction that used a "wrong text," when we could have evaluated any one of six other sections that had used better texts. The implication I gather is that NCTQ routinely hones in on the worst coursework, in order that we can give the lowest possible rating. As we stated to you then and we will again state to you now, when multiple sections were involved, we randomly selected one section of the course for analysis before we even solicited a syllabus. Any bias in selection was impossible. However, your complaint here begs the question: why does DePaul find it acceptable to have even one section of a reading course use an inaccurate, poorly conceived text? Our own view is that all teacher candidates deserve high quality preparation, not just some or even most of them. I would hope that you would share that view. Third, let me make it clear that we do not have a set list of "wrong" reading texts or "approved texts" which we check when examining required textbooks in reading courses. Each and every new textbook that we come across is sent out to experts to determine if it appropriately addresses any or all of the five components of effective reading instruction. We can easily prove this to be the case. When we did our first reading study five years ago, we listed the number of books that we had reviewed to be 227. By the end of our Illinois review, we were up to 630 books. This information is embedded in each of our reports, all on our website for anyone to see. I might add that we conduct these textbook evaluations in spite of the considerable expense involved, because we do not believe it is fair to take any shortcuts. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you omit one essential finding about the DePaul program that I think others deserve to know. DePaul was notable among the Illinois programs we evaluated in that it does not require its graduate teacher candidates seeking an early childhood certification (distinct from the undergraduate preparation for K-9 certification discussed above) to take any coursework in reading
instruction. Though there are two courses with "literacy" in their titles, neither addresses in any way, shape or form reading instruction. That finding should be as shocking to others as it was to us. We have no objections to honest debate about our work, but I would ask that in the future you refrain from making accusations so easily disproven by the record at hand. Sincerely,
Kate Walsh President
Kate Walsh, of the National Center for Teacher Quality, responds to DePaul after receiving a forwarded listserve email.