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School of education's graduate program fails evaluation

Published: Monday, February 28, 2011

Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08

When students receive bad grades, professors often say they are the ones to be blamed by the students. But when the student gets a good grade, they take full credit. When the tables turned and it came time for DePaul's school of education to be graded, the faculty cooperated-- that is until their undergraduate elementary program received a C+ and their graduate program earned an F. Then the fights broke out.That was last November. Now, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), the advocacy group responsible for the investigation, has geared up for round round two of evaluations, this time in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. Many colleges, DePaul University included, have reacted with public outcry claiming the report's methodology is unfair and inaccurate.

NCTQ collected information such as the curriculum, admission standards, and textbooks used from colleges across the nation. The department chair of teacher education at DePaul, Roxanne Owens, said the program, which collected only a sample of data from each category, did not collect enough information in each area to be deemed as credible.

"They said we didn't prepare the teachers for the challenges of having bilingual students," said Owens when claiming why DePaul's graduate program failed the evaluation. She said that because the NCTQ did not collect all of the information, they were unable to see that students actually receive bilingual endorsements.

But contrary to Owens' claims, DePaul's F had nothing to do with the bilingual information they provided, said Arthur McKee, the managing director at NCTQ. "DePaul was notable in the Illinois education programs in that it does not provide any courses in reading instruction" he said. "We are giving DePaul a failing grade because there are a number of standards they failed to meet."

DePaul tries to keep it hidden that they do not require graduate students to take courses on how to teach reading, McKee said.

"There are some things we know are really, really important and that's teaching reading, which DePaul's graduate program does not teach," he said. "That's why we feel so strongly about DePaul."

While Owens, along with other school of education faculty members, said the NCTQ's methodology was inaccurate, according to McKee, the NCTQ presented DePaul with their preliminary findings last year. DePaul, who McKee said was cooperative at the time, informed them that there were a couple of things wrong in the report.

"We actually changed four of our ratings in response," McKee said.

The DePaulia obtained a listserv email conversation between DePaul's Dean of Education, Paul Zionts, and the NCTQ (left). In response to the listserv, the president of NCTQ, Kate Walsh, sent an email to DePaul's Dean of Education (right):

In one of the classes NCTQ looked at, the adjunct professor used a textbook that McKee said didn't cover the essentials.

DePaul responded by saying that basing their grades on just one section of a class taught by an adjunct professor is unfair and shouldn't be used to represent the entire school of education.

"The U.S. News & World Report methodology proposed is sort of similar to a student coming to a class to submit a ten page paper and the professor says, 'okay--just give me page two, page five, and page eight, and that's what your final grade will be based on for the course," Owens said.

Owens was not the only member from the school of education to argue their grades were unfair.

"Poorly collected data rarely contributes to the improvement of quality," said Education Professor Ronald Chennault.

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