The state's approval process for teacher preparation programs should hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
Georgia's approval process for its traditional and alternate route teacher preparation programs could do more to hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
Most importantly, Georgia requires that preparation programs collect data relating to candidate performance and its effect on student learning, which requires candidates to produce evidence of a positive impact on student growth during student teaching.
The state also gathers other objective, meaningful data to measure the performance of teacher preparation programs, including content knowledge as measured by Georgia's assessment tool; content knowledge as measured by a program-level assessment; planning, which covers pedagogical content knowledge and general pedagogical skills; clinical practice, which must be performance-based and drawn from candidate work during student teaching; and dispositions, which include institutional assessment of the professional attitudes, values and beliefs demonstrated through both verbal and nonverbal behaviors throughout the program, including student teaching.
However, it does not appear that Georgia applies any transparent, measurable criteria for conferring program approval. The state collects programs' annual summary licensure test pass rates (80 percent of program completers must pass their licensure exams). 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. Further, in the past three years, no programs in the state have been identified as low performing—an additional indicator that programs lack accountability.
The Governor's Office of Student Achievement (OSA) publishes an annual report card that provides individual teacher preparation program data on state certification assessments.
According to the state's winning Race to the Top application, it plans to evaluate graduates' impact on student achievement by developing a Teacher Preparation Program Effectiveness Measure (TPPEM) for alternate routes and traditional teacher preparation. TPPEM will track the rate at which induction teachers move to the career teacher level. Georgia's application also calls for an examination of candidates' ability to produce student learning before they are allowed to graduate.
Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data.
Programs should be held accountable for meeting these established standards of performance, with articulated consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval after appropriate due process.
Georgia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state noted that additional information can be found in the state's Framework for Teaching.