The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce. This goal was reorganized in 2021.
Minimum Standards of Performance: Alabama does not set minimum standards of performance for the categories of data that programs must report.
Program Accountability: As a result of the lack of minimum standards of performance, Alabama does not articulate consequences for programs that fail to meet specific criteria. Educator preparation programs that choose the Continuous Improvement in Educator Preparation (CIEP) program review have five approval options: initial approval of a new program, continued approval of an existing program, conditional approval, probationary approval, and denial of approval. However, these accountability measures are only in place for programs that choose the CIEP program review.
Alabama also indicates that, "approval of an educator preparation program may be rescinded for just cause, including failure of a significant number of program completers to receive satisfactory ratings based on performance evaluations established by the Alabama State Board of Education." However, this does not indicate that program approval will be rescinded by the state, just that Alabama has the option to do so.
State Report Cards: Alabama publishes educator preparation institutional report cards that contain program-level pass rate data and candidate and employer satisfaction survey results at the institutional level. The reports also indicate whether programs are approved and accredited.
Program Approval Process: Alabama allows overlap of national accreditation and state approval. Educator preparation programs have the option of obtaining CAEP accreditation in lieu of state's own program review for the purposes of continuing program approval. Regardless of whether programs choose CAEP accreditation or the state's Continuous Improvement in Educator Preparation (CIEP) program review, programs must meet both because the state has adopted CAEP standards as part of state's own standards.
Establish the minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
Alabama should establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data it collects to help clarify expectations regarding program quality.
Ensure that criteria for program approval result in greater accountability.
Alabama should ensure that programs are held accountable for meeting minimum standards of performance, and that the state's accountability system is sufficient to differentiate performance among programs, including alternate route programs. The state should establish clear follow-up actions for programs failing to meet these standards, including remediation or loss of program approval as appropriate. For programs exceeding minimum standards, Alabama should consider finding effective ways to disseminate best practices.
Maintain full authority over the process for approving teacher preparation programs.
Alabama should not cede any of its approval authority to another accrediting body; instead, the state should ensure that it is the entity that directly considers all the evidence of program performance and makes the final determination of whether programs should continue to be authorized to prepare teachers.
Alabama recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis; however, this analysis was updated subsequent to the state's review.
1D: Program Reporting Requirements
The state should examine a number of factors when measuring the performance of and approving teacher preparation programs. Although the quality of both the subject-matter preparation and professional sequence is crucial, there are also additional measures that can provide the state and the public with meaningful, readily understandable indicators of how well programs are doing when it comes to preparing teachers to be successful in the classroom.
States have made great strides in building data systems with the capacity to provide evidence of teacher performance. These same data systems can be used to link teacher effectiveness to the teacher preparation programs from which they came. States should make such data, as well as other objective measures that go beyond licensure test pass rates, central components of their teacher preparation program approval processes, and they should establish precise standards for performance that are more useful for accountability purposes.
National accrediting bodies, such as CAEP, are raising the bar, but are no substitute for states' own policy. A number of states now have somewhat more rigorous academic standards for admission by virtue of requiring that programs meet CAEP's accreditation standards. However, whether CAEP will uniformly uphold its standards (especially as they have already backtracked on the GPA requirement) and deny accreditation to programs that fall short of these admission requirements remains to be seen. Clear state policy would eliminate this uncertainty and send an unequivocal message to programs about the state's expectations.