The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
Recent legislation in Florida now requires that for approval, programs must collect data regarding placement rates of program completers, retention rates, performance of students who are assigned to in-field program completers on statewide assessments using results of student learning growth formula, and results of annual evaluations. Additional data may include program completers' and employers' satisfaction. Prior to program completion, teacher candidates must also demonstrate the ability to positively affect student learning growth in the area of program concentration during the field experience.
Also, preparation programs must guarantee high quality of its program completers during the two years following completion or initial certification, whichever comes first. Any program completer who is employed during this two-year period in a Florida public school and earns an evaluation result of developing or unsatisfactory on a district's evaluation system must be provided additional training by the program at no additional cost.
However, Florida does not apply any transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval.
The state posts an annual report on its website that includes satisfaction data; completer, employer and mentor surveys; and demographic comparisons.
In Florida, there is some overlap of accreditation and state approval. Members of NCATE/CAEP and the state make up the review team and decisions are made jointly; state members must complete NCATE/CAEP training. Florida conducts its own program reviews.
Establish the minimum standard of performance for accountability purposes.
In order to make use of the data Florida collects and publishes for accountability purposes, it is critical that the state establish minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data. Programs should then be held accountable for meeting these standards, and there should be consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval.
Distinguish between alternate route programs and traditional preparation programs in public reporting.
It would be more useful to the public—especially hiring school districts—if Florida's reports on teacher preparation program performance included specific data at the program level.
Maintain full authority over teacher preparation program approval.
Florida should ensure that it is the state that considers the evidence of program performance and makes the decision about whether programs should continue to be authorized to prepare teachers.
Florida recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is in the process of revising its state board of education rule governing the approval of all educator preparation programs—including alternate routes—with rule development workshops beginning in August 2013. Proposed revisions include setting performance levels/targets for the performance metrics that were recently passed in legislation for the continued approval of state-approved programs.
States need to hold programs accountable for the quality of their graduates.
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 can be used to provide objective evidence of the performance of teacher preparation programs. States should make such data, as well as other objective measures that go beyond licensure pass rates, a central component of their teacher preparation program approval processes, and they should establish precise standards for performance that are more useful for accountability purposes.
Teacher Preparation Program Accountability: Supporting Research
For discussion of teacher preparation program approval see Andrew Rotherham and S. Mead's chapter "Back to the Future: The History and Politics of State Teacher Licensure and Certification." in A Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom. (Harvard Education Press, 2004).
For evidence of how weak state efforts to hold teacher preparation programs accountable are, see data on programs identified as low-performing in the U.S. Department of Education,The Secretary's Seventh Annual Report on Teacher Quality 2010 at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/reports/annual/teachprep/t2r7.pdf.
For additional discussion and research of how teacher education programs can add value to their teachers, see NCTQ's, Teacher Prep Review, available at http://www.nctq.org/p/edschools.
For a discussion of the lack of evidence that national accreditation status enhances teacher preparation programs' effectiveness, see D. Ballou and M. Podgursky, "Teacher Training and Licensure: A Layman's Guide," in Better Teachers, Better Schools, eds. Marci Kanstoroom and Chester E. Finn., Jr., (Washington, D.C.: Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 1999), pp. 45-47. See also No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America's Education Schools (NCTQ, 2008) and What Education Schools Aren't Teaching About Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren't Learning (NCTQ, 2006).
See NCTQ, Alternative Certification Isn't Alternative (2007) regarding the dearth of accountability data states require of alternate route programs.