A statement from members of the Reading Hall of Fame on the report of the
National Council on Teacher Quality*
As elected members of the Reading Hall of Fame with broad and diverse perspectives on reading and reading instruction we want to raise strong objections to key aspects of the NCTQ report on teacher preparation programs.
1. NCTQ was founded by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundationi to “provide an alternative national voice to existing teacher organizations and to build the case for a comprehensive reform agenda that would challenge the current structure and regulation of the profession.” NCTQ would control the education of teachers by asserting its authority to rate teacher education.ii Teacher education programs are now regulated by state certification and state education agencies and by their university administrators. They also comply with standards of their professional associations. NCTQ seeks to insert itself above these authorities.
2. To achieve that end they frame “existing teacher organizations” as vested interests opposed to reform.
3. This attempt to control teacher education follows the attempt to control schools through NCLB and Reading First. Reading first, a major part of NCLB mandated a narrow direct instruction phonics curriculum and method. And it banned whole language. That has been the law since 2001 and it has not improved reading comprehension and it has certainly not improved schools.iii .(Gamse, et al., 2008),
4. NCTQ, with the advice or Reid Lyon and Lousia Moats, key players in Reading First, asserts that the National Reading Panel provided the answers to, “many fundamental educational questions” establishing a single scientific reading method.
5. So with one stroke NCTQ limits the teaching of reading to teaching the “scientific “ reading program, the same one which failed for 13 years in NCLB and it limits teacher education programs to training teachers in this one true method.
And who needs reading research if the fundamental questions are already answered?
6. NCTQ has rated teacher education programs through rating their courses in teaching beginning reading repeating the tactic used in NCLB’s Reading First mandates that there are two approaches to teaching reading: the scientific approach (direct instruction phonics) and everything else.
7. NCTQ’S assertion that “teacher educators choose to train candidates in “whole language” methods rather than scientifically-based reading instruction” indicates that NCTQ’s evaluators had so broad a definition of whole language that it is
anything other than what NCTQ would mandate. After thirteen years they are still claiming that schools are failing because of whole language.
8. NCTQ would deskill teachers: they would be “trained” as technicians with limited knowledge and authority by teacher educators constrained to a single “scientific” method of reading instruction.
9. The texts authored by over 60 members of the Reading Hall of Fame were listed as unacceptable by NCTQ. Few were rated acceptable. The issue is not our texts. It is that anyone or any group can impose their judgment and become arbiters of books or methods.
10. NCTQ ridicules the view that prospective teachers should confront their attitudes toward “race, class, language and culture” in their teacher education programs. This is but one example of the NCTQ view that reading is an autonomous skill that can be taught out of context without regard for who the learners are and what they are asked to read.
11. NCTQ sees “Academic Freedom run amok” in teacher education. Yet the concept was created to protect teachers and other academics from just the sort of political interference in their teaching and research NCTQ is attempting. As professionals in the field of literacy education, we understand, appreciate, and accept the responsibility for improving teacher education. Our teachers need to know much more about the processes and practices of reading, writing, and thinking. To that end, we commit ourselves individually and collectively to promoting broader and deeper knowledge of literacy processes and practices. In contrast, however, to the message of NCTQ, we will accomplish these improvements not by tearing down, but respecting dedicated teachers and by building with them, on the rich knowledge base for literacy that has taken so long to develop.
*This statement represents those members signed below and should not be construed as an official position of the Reading Hall of Fame
Members signing this statement (Affiliation for identification only)
Kenneth S Goodman** Professor emeritus University of Arizona
James Hoffman Professor University of Texas
Jane Hanson Professor Emerita University of Virginia,
Team member, Central Virginia Writing project
Richard Vacca Professor Emeritus Kent State University
Richard Allington** Professor University of Tennessee
Yetta M Goodman*** Regents Professor emerita University of Arizona
Brian Cambourne Professor Wollongong University Austrailia
David Olson University Professor Emeritus OISE/University of Toronto
Dorothy Watson Professor Emeriita University of Missouri , Columbia
Carl Braun** Professor emeritus University of Calgary, Alberta Canada
Denny Taylor Professor Emerita, Hofstra University
Donald Leu Professor University of Connecticut
Patrick Shannon Professor Pennsylvania Sate University
P. David Pearson Professor University of California, Berkeley
Robert Calfee Professor Emeritus on Recall, Stanford University
Roger Farr ** Chancellors Professor Emeritus, Indiana University
Victoria Rizko** Professor Emerita Vanderbilt University
Victoria Purcell-Gates Professor Emerita, University of British Columbia
Robert Tierney Honorary Professor Sydney University Australia,
Professor University of British Columbia
Linda B. Gambrell** Distinguished Professor Clemson University
Co-editor, Reading Research Quarterly
Patricia L Anders Professor University of Arizona
Donna Ogle** Professor, Natonal Lewis University
Jerome Harste*** Professor Emeritus Indiana University
Taffy Rafael University Scholar University of Illinois Chicago
Tim Razinski Professor Kent State University
Peter Johnston Professor State University of New York at Albany
** Past Presidents of the International Reading association
*** Past President of the National Council of Teachers of English.
i Ravich, Diane says: “NCTQ was created by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in 2000. I was on the board of TBF at the time. Conservatives, and I was one, did not like teacher training institutions. We thought they were too touchy-feely, too concerned about self-esteem and social justice and not concerned enough with basic skills and academics. In 1997… TBF established NCTQ as a new entity to promote alternative certification and to break the power of the hated ed schools.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/ravitch-what-is-nctq-and-why-you-should-know/2012/05/23
ii Teacher Prep Review (2003)P 93
iii Calfee,R (In press)Knowledge, Evidence, and Faith: How the Federal Government Used Science to Take Over Public Schools in Goodman,K, R.Calfee and Y Goodman Whose Knowledge Counts in Government Literacy Policies (Routledge 2014)