A national survey that ranked Columbus State University's teacher education program on the lowest level used "questionable methodology," the school's spokesman said Wednesday.
John Lester, CSU's assistant vice president for university relations said in an email that Tuesday's release of the National Council on Teacher Quality report "confirms the fears and concerns we had long heard rumored about this process.
"We respect NCTQ's interest in assessing the quality of teacher preparation programs; however, Columbus State University joins the University System of Georgia and other private, independent teacher preparation programs who are concerned with the quality and rigor of this 'study.'"
Lester added, "We, like many other universities, did no participate willingly in the date-gathering for this report. That may be why in some areas we are rated with four stars and in some areas we are not rated at all."
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CSU's teaching program is one of five in Georgia to receive an overall rating of no stars with a consumer alert designation, along with Albany State, Armstrong Atlantic State, Augusta State (now known as Georgia Regents University Augusta) and the University of West Georgia.
Lester contends the standards used in the survey aren't aligned with federal norms for teacher education or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, "which recently reviewed our programs again and recommended zero changes."
Roger Hatcher, director of the CSU's Center for Quality Teaching and Learning, said in an interview that he hasn't read the NCTQ report, but he wondered aloud how that survey could rate CSU so differently compared to passing the national accreditation in February "with flying colors."
"I couldn't comment on the internal aspects of the report," he said, "but I do know there is concern expressed by many educators about the methodology."
Hatcher also knows the quality of teachers CSU develops from the inside and out. Before he started working at the university 12 years ago, he was an educator in Columbus schools for 31 years, including 13 as principal of Hardaway High.
"I can tell you from my experience as a Muscogee County principal that the product we got from Columbus State was exceptional then and it's outstanding now."
Hatcher noted an advisory group comprising area principals meets five times per year and gives the CSU program "excellent feedback from the field."
"They are pleased with the product," he said, "and they are letting us know that our teachers are helping them with their student achievement."
Barbara Buckner, the dean of CSU's College of Education and Health Professions, wasn't available for comment.
According to its website, the NCTQ "advocates for reforms in a broad range of teacher policies at the federal, state and local levels in order to increase the number of effective teachers."
The nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C., was founded in 2000 "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."