March 24, 2016

P.L. Thomas, (864) 294-3386,   
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

NCTQ report makes broad claims, but fails to provide acceptable evidence, academic review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Mar. 24, 2016) – As part of a series of reports chronicling teacher education, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) attempted to investigate the textbooks used in teacher prep coursework. The report contended that textbooks assigned in methods coursework fail to provide teacher candidates with proper preparation. However, an academic review finds that the report is of little value in improving teacher preparation, selecting textbooks, or for guiding educational policy.

P.L. Thomas, Furman University, and Christian Z. Goering, University of Arkansas reviewed the report, Learning about Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know, for the Think Twice think tank review project. The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) produced the review with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The NCTQ report is based on six strategies adapted from a practice guide provided by the What Works Clearinghouse, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES).  The report offers recommendations for textbook publishers, teacher education programs, and state departments of education.

However, Thomas and Goering find, in their review, that the report is not grounded in a comprehensive examination of the literature on teaching methods. Moreover, the report relies on a single source, which itself was based on a narrow set of research studies.

The reviewers note that, despite posing an interesting question, NCTQ's report falls short because it uses a narrow set of criteria and applies it in a misleading and superficial way.

Thomas and Goering, both respected teacher educators, agree with the report's authors that teacher education programs, textbooks used in methods courses, and candidate preparedness are all important topics for further analysis. Nevertheless, they conclude: "this report in no way justifies taking the conclusions or recommendations seriously when determining policy or practice."

Find the review on the Great Lakes Center website:

Find Learning about Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know on the web:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, 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.

The review can also be found 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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