Lack of Public Reporting on Differences in Teacher Preparation Quality Fails to Safeguard Public Interest

49 states do not publish critical data on program pass rates, leaving aspiring teachers in the dark about programs where they are unlikely to qualify for a standard teaching license


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Washington, D.C. -- A new Databurst from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Maintaining Strong Elementary Content Requirements for Prospective Teachers, documents the fact that 49 states do not publish the elementary content state licensing test data that the public needs. These data would reveal programs' varying first-time pass rates, which would provide important information to aspiring elementary teachers about program quality. States instituted these tests to ensure that aspiring elementary teachers have a firm grasp of mathematics, English language arts, science, and social studies and candidates who do not ultimately pass the test will not qualify for a standard teaching license.

While federal law requires that states report licensure test pass rates for their teacher preparation program completers, programs may define "program completers" as those candidates who have both finished the program requirements and passed their licensure tests—disregarding the sometimes significant numbers of candidates who fail their tests. The result is that programs and states are able to accurately report extremely high "pass rates", even though their actual pass rates may be a fraction of what they report.

Recent NCTQ analysis of ETS data for the most common elementary content licensure test revealed that fewer than half of aspiring elementary teachers pass this test the first time they take it, and the pass rate after multiple attempts is still only 72 percent. Failure to publicly report first-time and final pass rate data for all test takers—not just "program completers"—in elementary teacher preparation programs has meant that insufficiencies of teacher preparation programs remain hidden from the public.

"The lack of transparency in the data states and programs report obscures the reality of variation in program quality," said NCTQ President Kate Walsh. "This is a consumer protection issue. Aspiring teachers deserve to know which programs are most likely to help them be prepared both to pass their licensing tests and for the classroom."

In addition to details on each state's pass rate reporting, the NCTQ analysis includes a review of the quality of each state's required elementary content licensure test. These tests vary significantly in quality, with fewer than half of states (22) requiring aspiring elementary teachers to pass separately scored subtests in each core content area. Without such subtests, strong knowledge in one core content area may compensate for deficiencies in another.

See the full NCTQ data, analysis, and recommendations for all 50 states and the District of Columbia here:


To schedule an interview with NCTQ, please contact Nicole Gerber at (202) 393- 0020 ext. 712.

About the National Council on Teacher Quality:

The National Council on Teacher Quality is a nonpartisan research and policy group, committed to modernizing the teaching profession and based on the belief that all children deserve effective teachers. We recognize that it is not teachers who bear responsibility for their profession's many challenges, but the institutions with the greatest authority and influence over teachers. More information about NCTQ can be found on our website,

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