FAQs on New Teacher-Preparation Program Rankings

Frequently asked questions about the new teacher-preparation program rankings.

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U.S.News & World Report and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) recently announced a partnership to produce a rating of teacher preparation programs at more than 1,000 education schools across the U.S. Since the announcement, some key questions have been raised about the project. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

Why are U.S. News and NCTQ rating teacher preparation programs? U.S. News believes that teacher education programs are very important and have not been scrutinized in the past. There is a big push nationwide to improve teacher quality and the quality of schools at the K-12 level. These new rankings will be part of the national movement to hold teacher preparation programs accountable for their graduates. We hope these new rankings will help lead to improvements in teacher quality and better schools.

When will the rankings be published? The new rankings will not be published until sometime in the second half of 2012. NCTQ is all ready working on data collection and has sent surveys to the schools. NCTQ will collect all the data and produce the ranking. U.S. News will carefully vet the results before they are published to make sure they are up to our standards.

Will these new rankings replace the current U.S. News Best Education Schools rankings? No, these new rankings will be in addition to what we do now. U.S. News will continue to publish our current Best Education Schools rankings, which are not a ranking of teacher training programs, since its methodology only looks at Ph.D. programs and research output of graduate education schools.

Is this the first time U.S. News has worked with another organization to conduct rankings? No. Many of the rankings U.S. News publishes are the result of finding responsible and highly knowledgeable partners and working with them to produce rankings. U.S. News currently partners with Best Lawyers to publish the Best Law Firms rankings; with RTI International to produce our Best Hospitals rankings; with QS for the World's Best Universities rankings; and with a division of Standard & Poor's to create the Best High Schools rankings.

If schools don't turn in their data, will they be rated as failed? No, but they will all still be rated. As Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ, recently said in a letter to education schools deans:

"As for the consequences for institutions that choose not to cooperate, let me be clear that all institutions will be rated regardless of their decisions. There are standards which do not require cooperation, and we will rate those as planned. After hearing your concerns, we have decided, however, not to automatically fail institutions that do not participate. We instead expect to estimate for the remaining standards based on the material that we are able to assemble. Those ranking based on estimates will be clearly labeled. However, the public will be informed that the school refused to supply information needed and that alternative methods were used to develop the rankings. This is a format used by U.S. News. If you have an alternative method that will encourage cooperation, we are certainly open to considering it."

U.S. News fully backs this approach on how to handle schools that don't report their key data. We follow the same approach in some of our academic rankings.

How can I find out more information about these rankings? NCTQ has posted a considerable amount of information on the new rankings and details on the standards and indicators that will be used in the methodology in a section of its website called Review of the Nation's Education Schools.

See coverage on this issue:

Inside Higher Ed: Anger Over New Rankings

The New York Times: Teachers' Colleges Upset by Plan to Grade Them

Education Week: Grading of Teacher Colleges to be Revamped

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Education-School Deans Challenge Methodology of Planned Ranking of Teacher-Preparation Programs

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