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 is on the right track but could do more to hold programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.
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's new requirements and standards for approving educator preparation programs, effective January 15, 2013, require all programs to submit data related to these preparation program effectiveness measures.
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.
In Georgia, 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. Georgia conducts its own program reviews.
Georgia Rule 505-3-.01 Guidance and Implementation Plan http://www.gapsc.com/EducatorPreparation/Resources/Downloads/Rule_01_Guidance_V1_February_2013.pdf Report Cards http://www.gaosa.org/report.aspx www.ncate.org
Establish the minimum standard of performance for each category of data.
Merely collecting the types of data described above is insufficient for accountability purposes. The next and perhaps more critical step is for Georgia to establish precise minimum standards for teacher preparation program performance for each category of data. The state should be mindful of setting rigorous standards for program performance, as its current requirement that 80 percent of program graduates pass the state's licensing tests is too low a bar. Programs should be held accountable for meeting rigorous standards, and there should be consequences for failing to do so, including loss of program approval.
Maintain full authority over the process for approving teacher preparation programs.
Georgia 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.
Georgia asserted that beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, new systems for evaluating programs and the performance of their completers will be fully implemented. A two-year pilot period began in 2013-2014, during which available data will be collected and analyzed. Effectiveness measures include teacher performance (a statewide evaluation system comprised of student growth measures and observations); content knowledge (state content assessments and the edTPA in applicable programs); success at induction (retention in the profession after the three-year induction phase); and other annual program measures that include completion rates, yield, and completer and employer surveys. Teacher performance will comprise 50 percent of the overall effectiveness measure, and programs will be categorized into four performance levels: exemplary, proficient, at-risk of low performing and low performing. Approval status will be tied to the performance rankings, with low-performing programs placed on probation and given a specified period of time to improve or risk loss of approval.
Georgia added that although not yet published, one program provider was deemed "low performing" in 2011-2012, and, as a result, state approval and national accreditation were revoked.
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.