Arthur Levine, former President of the Teachers College of Columbia University, has issued no-holds barred critiques of teacher training and school leadership training. This month Levine released an overview of researcher training in the nations colleges of education.
Levine surveyed deans, faculty, education school alumni, k-12 school principals, and reviewed 1,300 doctoral dissertations. Levine ultimately recommends that policymakers close many doctoral programs at education colleges. Instead, Levine suggests a two-year M.B.A. type of degree for would-be school administrators.
Just how bad is the quality of doctoral-level research in colleges of education? Levine's review doesn't pull any punches:
In general, the research questions were unworthy of a doctoral dissertation, literature reviews were dated and cursory, study designs were seriously flawed, samples were small and particularistic, confounding variables were not taken into account, perceptions were commonly used as proxies for reality, statistical analyses were performed frequently on meaningless data, and conclusions and recommendations were often superficial and without merit since they were based on the meaningless data collected, and the dissertations were written in cookie cutter fashion.
Universities have long tolerated education schools as academically lenient cash cows (many students, relatively low costs). Needless to say, they are not doing k-12 students any favors by continuing to do so.
Matthew Ladner, Ph.D., is vice president for research at the Goldwater Institute.