May 24, 2018

William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058,
Marilyn Cochran-Smith: (617) 552-4591,
Great Lakes Center: (517) 203-2940,

Report offering recommendations for improving teacher quality has little basis in research, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (May 24, 2018) - A report published by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) examines nine teacher policy "goals" and 37 "best practices" related to teacher quality, and makes recommendations for policy based on these goals and best practices. The intent of the report is for these best practices to be replicated by state policymakers. The review found multiple flaws that undermine the report's validity, including little research evidence to back up the report's claims.

Marilyn Cochran-Smith, a professor at Boston College, along with three other members of Project TEER (Teacher Education and Education Reform), reviewed the report. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), is funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The NCTQ report, 2018 State Teacher Policy Best Practices Guide, makes sweeping claims about "best practices" in teacher policy. According to Cochran-Smith, a key problem with the report is that it offers no explanation about how the 37 best practices were selected and provides no justification for its selection of "leading" policy work. It fails to describe the original development of its nine fundamental goals and does not cite any supportive research evidence. Additionally, it makes no use of (or even reference to) the nuanced and complex research literature in this area.

The report focuses primarily on policies targeting the qualifications and evaluation of the teacher workforce. This ignores the growing consensus that many other factors matter in creating high-quality teaching that enhances students' learning, including supports that help teachers succeed, school contexts and cultures, state and regional labor markets, teachers' relationship-building capacities, and the social organization of teachers' work.

In the end, the reviewers conclude the report "lacks both the nuance and the detail required to be useful."

Find the review on the web:

Find the NCTQ report here:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

You can also find the review on the NEPC website:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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