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 2017.
Minimum Standards of Performance: Arkansas does not set minimum standards of performance for the data collected as part of the state's report card.
Program Accountability: As a result of the lack of minimum standards of performance, Arkansas does not articulate consequences for programs that fail to meet specific criteria. Recent legislative changes require that the Arkansas Department of Education and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education will develop a system for the annual reporting and review of educator preparation program quality, which may include without limitation, data on program completer employment, survey outcomes, student learning outcomes, as well as taking into account accreditation or state approval and program quality ratings. Currently, there are no clear minimum standards for these data, nor are there clear consequences for failing to meet minimum standards.
State Report Cards: Arkansas publishes annual report cards showing the data the state has collected on individual teacher preparation programs.
Program Approval Process: Arkansas does not maintain full authority over the teacher preparation program approval process. Instead, the state requires programs to obtain Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accreditation in order to receive state accreditation. The Arkansas Department of Education is now required to conduct audits of teacher preparation programs on a seven-year cycle.
Establish the minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
Arkansas 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.
Arkansas is taking steps toward holding programs accountable for meeting minimum standards of performance. While building out this accountability system, the state should ensure that the accountability system is sufficient to differentiate performance among programs, including alternate route programs. The state should also 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, Arkansas should consider finding effective ways to disseminate best practices.
Maintain full authority over the process for approving teacher preparation programs.
Arkansas should not cede its approval authority to another accrediting body; instead, the state should ensure that it is the entity that directly considers the evidence of program performance and makes the final determination of whether programs should continue to be authorized to prepare teachers.
Arkansas provided NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
The state also provided details on new legislation that requires the development of a system for the annual reporting and review of educator preparation program quality, stating that this legislation went into effect in August 2017, but that rules are still in the promulgation process.
NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the state's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.
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.