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A&M-Commerce responds to NCTQ study

By Brent Lyday

Commerce – Texas A&M University-Commerce was named in the National Council of Teacher Quality's study findings released Thursday morning regarding the quality of university teaching programs in Texas. Despite the council's negative findings, A&M-Commerce remains steadfast in its commitment to prepare Texas teachers to the best of its ability as evidenced by its partnerships with area ISDs, educational organizations and the number of alumni selected annually as educators of the year.

"Texas A&M University-Commerce has a formidable, 121-year reputation in Texas for producing high quality teachers in every subject including science, math, special education, and bilingual education," said Dr. Brent Mangus, dean of education and human services. "Our teacher preparation programs are approved by State Board of Educator Certification, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. More than 98 percent of A&M-Commerce graduates successfully complete the state-mandated competency examinations required for teacher certification."

According to Mangus, the university's recent TEA evaluation of its teacher certification programs found the programs to be "in compliance" in all categories evaluated. The university received commendations in each area. Additionally, in 2009, the TEA awarded our elementary education partnership with Mesquite ISD the STAR Award, which is only given to one or two universities each year.

The methodology used in the NCTQ study, however, was vastly different than that used by TEA. In response to the NCTQ study, the TEA State Board for Educator Certification and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board indicated surprise that NCTQ did not contact either entity for input regarding the measures mandated by state statute for accrediting teacher preparation programs in Texas. Texas legislation and administrative rule make full compliance with NCTQ's criteria unattainable.

"The National Council of Teaching Quality is a non-federal agency that receives support from private foundations," Mangus said. "Their study is inherently flawed due to the criteria selected and the methodology utilized. The NCTQ study did not incorporate other measures commonly used by recognized accrediting agencies. A&M-Commerce was not asked to participate in the study, and no request for information was submitted to the university. The data for the study were compiled from syllabi and degree programs on the university's Web site."

While NCTQ attempts to legitimize its study by alleging that it conducted the study at the request of members of the Texas Legislature, Mangus stated the Legislature did not officially consider or authorize the commissioning of this study.

"At A&M-Commerce, we are in the business of education," Mangus said. "We are always striving to learn innovative ways to prepare teachers for their classrooms, and we welcome constructive criticism that comes from honest motives and proven methodology as provided by TEA and the State Board of Education. Unfortunately, there are those that choose to advance their own views about educational issues to the detriment of public education. The NCTQ report comes from what appears to be such a group."

About Texas A&M University-Commerce:

Founded in 1889, Texas A&M University-Commerce is a member of The Texas A&M University System. Located in Northeast Texas, A&M-Commerce is home to more than 9,000 students, three academic colleges, a thriving graduate school, and more than 100 degree programs. As the region's focal point of higher education, A&M-Commerce offers students facilities ranging from a world-class science building and new student center, to a fully equipped recreational facility and the soon-to-be completed music hall. The university also has convenient facilities in Corsicana, downtown Dallas, Mesquite, and Midlothian.