McKendree University School of Education Lebanon, Illinois
Institution Comment Comments submitted by: Dr. Joseph J. Cipfl, Chairman, School of Education
As we review the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) evaluation of the McKendree University teacher preparation programs, we are pleased we received the highest rating for many of the criteria. Nevertheless, being a University that is fully accredited, highly respected and extraordinarily competitive, we are troubled by some of the conclusions drawn and recommendations provided by NCTQ. As an Illinois teacher preparation institution, McKendree University is required to adhere to the state teacher certification standards as developed and approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). NCTQ has concluded that the ISBE standards are flawed and inadequate and in turn penalized McKendree for implementing those required standards. It should be noted that the ISBE is the governing body that regulates and authorizes operation of the McKendree University teacher preparation program. The program cannot exist nor recommend teacher candidates for licensure unless it functions in accordance with ISBE rules and regulations. To penalize the University for operating in accordance with state rules and regulations is unfair. NCTQ states that McKendree’s teacher education students should be required to take additional credit hours, extend the length of their four–year degree programs and incur additional tuition costs. NCTQ suggests that McKendree’s teacher preparation program, currently approved by the ISBE and accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), should add general education hours and additional courses within the student’s major field of study. NCTQ indicates that all education students should be required to complete an additional area of study independent of education so they could qualify for an additional college degree in case they were unsuccessful in their student teaching. To assume probable failure and require education students to seek fall–back majors seems inappropriate and unnecessarily costly. In fact, most McKendree University teacher education candidates complete their student teaching, secure teaching positions, and demonstrate success in P-12 classrooms. Specific recommendations were made by NCTQ regarding course and/or program modification in reading, math, science and social studies instruction based solely upon review of course syllabi. At no time in their review process was the McKendree campus visited; programs reviewed; student learning outcomes data collected; or students, faculty and administrators interviewed. Course syllabi provide course descriptions, learning objectives, overviews of course content, and references. Syllabi are not meant to provide complete descriptions of assignments, rubrics used to score assignments, or instructional activities included in each class session. The NCTQ made judgments about the quality of assignments, assessments, and instruction that simply cannot be gleaned from an examination of course syllabi. The evaluation process conducted by NCTQ is insufficient to yield valid information about the quality of our teacher preparation programs. Although McKendree University received several favorable ratings, we question the worth, merit, purpose and validity of the evaluation process. We are committed to providing a high quality educational experience for our students, and we use feedback, assessment data, and external reviews to ensure that our teacher education programs prepare knowledgeable, caring professionals.