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: The District of Columbia does not set meaningful minimum standards of performance. The District collects programs' annual summary licensure test pass rates, and requires that 80 percent of program completers pass their licensure exams. However, the 80 percent pass-rate standard, while common among many states, sets the bar quite low and is not a meaningful measure of program performance.
Program Accountability: As a result of the lack of minimum standards of performance, the District of Columbia does not articulate consequences for programs that fail to meet specific criteria. As per the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) website, "the State Superintendent of Education shall develop policies or directives setting forth objective and verifiable standards for the approval, renewal, and revocation of approval by the OSSE." Programs are measured against Organizational Standards and Subject Area Standards. However, it is unclear both how programs are measured objectively against these standards and at what point a program fails to meet minimum standards and therefore has its approval revoked.
State Report Cards: In the past, the District of Columbia published an annual report card that showed the data it collects on individual teacher preparation programs but the reports have not been updated since 2014. These report cards included the conditions for program entry and exit and the pass rates of program graduates on licensure assessments.
Program Approval Process: The District of Columbia maintains full authority over the teacher preparation program-approval process for non-traditional preparation programs only and conducts program renewal site visits for these programs every three years. The District shares authority with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation programs (CAEP) for its traditional preparation programs and conducts program approval renewal site visits for these programs every seven years.
Establish meaningful minimum standards of performance for each category of data.
The District of Columbia should establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data it collects to help clarify expectations regarding program quality. The 80 percent pass rate standard is too low to be a meaningful minimum standard.
Ensure that criteria for program approval result in greater accountability.
The District of Columbia should ensure that programs are held accountable for meeting minimum standards of performance, and that the District's accountability system is sufficient to differentiate performance among programs, including alternate route programs. The District 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, the District of Columbia should consider finding effective ways to disseminate best practices.
Publish an annual report card on the state's website.
The District of Columbia should continue to produce an annual report card that clearly displays program-level data it collects on individual teacher preparation programs.
Maintain full authority over the process for approving all teacher preparation programs.
The District of Columbia should not cede or share its approval authority for traditional preparation programs housed in institutions of higher education to a national accrediting body; instead, the state should ensure, as it does with non-traditional programs, 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.
The District of Columbia was helpful in proving NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
Regarding minimum standards of performance, the District of Columbia provided that it requires programs to collect data based on established guidelines for analysis set forth in the Organizational Standards and the applicable Subject Area Standards for educator preparation programs delineated on the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) website.
Regarding program accountability, the District stated that each District-approved educator preparation program must apply for accreditation and program approval renewal before the end of its accredited or approved program term according to its status as either a traditional or non-traditional program. The District added that after conducting the accreditation and program approval renewal site review visit, if the site review team finds that an educator preparation program (EPP) is not meeting minimum standards of program quality, the District of Columbia may revoke its accredited or approved program status.
Regarding state report cards, the District of Columbia affirmed that in the past it published an annual report card that showed the data it collects on individual teacher preparation programs. The District of Columbia further provided that in 2015 and 2016 data was collected, but these reports were not published due to staffing changes. The District added that new report cards will be published by the end of the calendar year in 2017 to include the conditions for program entry and exit and the pass rates of program graduates on licensure assessments.
Regarding authority over preparation program approval, the District further noted that it partners with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) to conduct joint reviews in order for institutions of higher education to receive dual District and national accreditation that facilitates the interstate reciprocity agreement for teacher licensure.
The District of Columbia also provided that in response to new ESSA and upgraded Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) standards, the state is currently revamping its policies and regulations surrounding educator preparation program (EPP) accountability and effectiveness to prepare educators. Specifically, the state is in the middle of accreditation regulations revisions that will address quality assurance issues for EPPs and add an extensive section on suspension and revocation of status based on program ineffectiveness.
Although NCTQ was able to verify that the District of Columbia requires the State Superintendent of Education to specify objective standards against which to measure preparation programs, it was unable to verify what specific data OSSE uses in order to make program approval decisions based on the District's Organizational Standards and Subject Area Standards. NCTQ was also unable to verify at what point the District considers a program to not be meeting minimum standards and, as a result, revokes program approval.
Regarding the District of Columbia's educator preparation program accountability processes, NCTQ looks forward to reviewing the District of Columbia'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.