Maryland Teacher Preparation Program Put on Probation

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Five years into the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), it doesn't seem as if new reporting requirements of the law are ever going to achieve their purpose: holding teacher education programs more accountable. HEA requires states to collect data on the percentage of teacher candidates enrolled in each teacher preparation program who pass the state teacher exam. States are supposed to yank their approvals from schools with low pass rates. However, most schools of education have figured a way around the law, escaping the sanctions of their state by not counting any candidate who doesn't pass the exam as a "program completer." Schools that traditionally had half their students failing the exam instead report 100% pass rates.

One Maryland school played by the rules by posting its genuinely awful pass rates but may be regretting its decision. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) had a pass rate on Praxis of around 50%, far below the state requirement of 80%. Now UMES has been placed on "probation" for two years. In fact, according to the Education Trust, as of 2002 only one of the nation's 1,300 schools of education had earned the "low performing" label, while only 13 more were "at risk." Maryland acknowledged that UMES is being punished for being honest but "that there may be some gaming on at other colleges doesn't mean there isn't work to be done at UMES&[i]t was a laggard for years."