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September 19, 2023

NCTQ Analysis of Teacher Preparation Programs Relies on Flawed Research to Promote Its Agenda

An NEPC Review funded by the Great Lakes Center

Key Takeaway: This report is ambitious ideological advocacy, not a scientific analysis of teacher preparation suitable to inform policy or practice.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (September 19, 2023) - A recent report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) evaluates more than half of the elementary teacher preparation programs in the U.S., to gauge their effectiveness in reading instruction. A review finds, however, that the report lacks the rigor necessary to adequately inform policy or practice.

Paul Thomas of Furman University reviewed Teacher Prep Review: Strengthening Elementary Reading Instruction, and found it to repeat the patterns made in previous NCTQ advocacy reports, including cherry-picked citations, a failure to distinguish between scientific and non-scientific evidence, and misrepresentation and exaggeration of the research base.

The report claims to identify how well candidates are prepared to teach elementary reading based on NCTQ’s Reading Foundations standards for scientifically based reading practices. The evaluation, drawn simply from analyzing course syllabi and materials, concludes that “[o]nly 25% of programs adequately address all five core components of reading instruction.” Further, it outlines model programs and recommended actions for teacher preparation programs, state leaders, school districts, advocates, teachers, and parents.

As states increasingly prioritize teacher preparation for early reading instruction based on the “science of reading,” Professor Thomas cautions that policymakers should avoid creating legislation that stems from NCTQ’s narrow education reform agenda. He concludes that weak methodology, significant conflicts of interest, and ideological claims presented as “scientific,” have again resulted in a report that is more advocacy than sound analysis.

Find the review, by Paul Thomas, at:

Find Teacher Prep Review: Strengthening Elementary Reading Instruction, written by Christie Ellis, Shannon Holston, Graham Drake, Hannah Putman, Abigail Swisher, and Heather Peske, and published by the National Council on Teacher Quality, at:

NEPC Reviews ( provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice:

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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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Alex Molnar
(480) 797-7261

Paul Thomas:
(864) 294-3386