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In a reversal, education group gives UM's reading education program an 'A'

A teacher works with a pre-school student in a classroom.

A national education policy group has reversed course on its initial criticism of the University of Montana's elementary reading education program.

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) gives college reading education programs across the nation a letter grade based on how well they adhere to a type of instruction called the science of reading.

After initially failing the University of Montana’s program, the organization updated that to an ‘A’ after the school submitted additional information. Dan Lee heads the College of Education at UM, and said letter-grade ranking systems don’t tell the whole story.

“It’s just not: ‘we’ve decided you’re an ‘A’,’” Lee said. “I’m glad we’re an ‘A,’ but I also know that’s because we hit all of NCTQ’s particular points. There’s more to teaching reading than that.”

Lee said his department got a lot of questions about the ‘F’ grade when the National Council on Teacher Quality released its report in June. The national group bases its grades on a reading education program’s syllabus, and doesn’t conduct site visits.

UM now joins Montana State University and Salish Kootenai College with high marks in reading education.

In an email, the National Council on Teacher Quality said UM had an opportunity to review its initial grade and submit more materials at the start of the year, but did not respond.

The group said of the nearly 700 programs nationwide in the report, nine submitted additional materials that led to improvement by more than one letter grade.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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